green undies and what is missing

“You know,” he told Eddie as he dried him off and helped him into his Green Lantern underwear, “Papa Steve had green underpants too.”

A smile spread across Cort’s lips and the rare twinkle appeared in his eye as he shared this small piece of memory with his oldest son.

“He called them his Green Hornets,” he finished with a smirk tugging at his dimples.

As Eddie and I giggled, I saw that elusive twinkle in Cort’s eye gleam brighter for just a second it go out with a snap.

I swallowed hard as a lump caught in my throat and tears burned in the corner of my eyes.

It was ridiculous that a brief recollection about underwear would make me miss him so much.  Would remind me of what Cort was missing so much each and every day.

I know these things should make us smile.  And it does make us smile.

But it’s also a stinging reminder of what is missing.

Cort has fathered two sons…just like his dad.

I’ve heard him call Eddie his Number 1 son and Charlie his Number 1 Young Son…just like his dad did with him and his younger brother Cody.

He’s told Eddie lots of little things…like the green undies…about his dad and each time it is bittersweet.

He is a dad without a dad.

I take for granted the fact that I can call up my mom with funny stories about the boys and jog her memory about mothering littles.  I get to hear her tell me about her perspective from when she was in the trenches like I am.

Cort doesn’t get his dad’s perspective on raising boys.

I cry to my mom about the tough parts of motherhood and ask questions about how she and my dad did it.

Cort remembers as best as he can and gets his mom’s input, but he doesn’t get to ask his dad what was tough about being a father.

Last summer I sat back with my mom at a cottage my parents rented for the family. It was one of many cottages we had frequented as a family when my brothers and I were little.  She and I talked about how relaxing is different with small kids around.  We joked and cracked a beer as I watched Eddie run around with his uncles while Charlie entertained his aunts.

Cort doesn’t get to kick back with his dad and a beer on the family boat they spent weekends on when he was a kid.  He doesn’t get to recall the trips to various marinas up and down the West Coast of Michigan.

As children life looks a lot different to us.

I have found one of my favorite activities to do with my parents is remember all the memories we made.  My parents are always amazed at what my brothers and I remember…and how our memories compare to what they experienced alongside us.

Cort doesn’t get to do this with his dad.

My relationship with my mom changed when I became a mother.  It was subtle and slight, but there was a shift.

We had a new connection.  A new something-in-common.

We were both mothers.

She has much she can share with me and I have much I can learn from her.

Cort never had that shift with his dad.

He never got to share the sameness.

He never saw his dad as a Grandpa and, maybe more difficult, his dad never got to see Cort as a Dad.

Cortney is not a story-teller by nature.

I am still learning stories about his childhood–mostly from his sister and his mom, but sometimes from him.

When his memories are sparked,  the twinkle in his eye gleams, and the dimple in his cheek deepens, I know it will be a memory about his dad.

Even if it’s about the Green Hornets.


Cort and I have decided to start a Relay for Life Team in Memory of Papa Steve.  I have never done it before, but I think you can join our team, donate, or…um…I am not sure.  Our goal is $250 and my personal goal is $100.  So far it’s just me on the team, so I have some work to do.  Anyway, this is the link to my page if you are interested in helping out.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. You made me misty eyed.

  2. Dammit, Katie – how did you make it all dusty in my office?!

    This makes me long to repair my relationship with my own father . . . but, well, I don’t think I can.

  3. Awe! I love this post. I’m sure Cort’s Papa is looking down on him as one hell of a proud dad. Blessings to you all!

  4. This post, made me cry because the anniversary of loosing Jeff’s mom is tomorrow. There is a huge void in our lives because she is not there so I understand this post I so get it.

  5. I can feel the yearning in your words, for Cort. I’m so sorry.
    I’m sure he’s doing his Dad proud.

  6. This so made me cry. It’s hard raising kids without having ur dad or ur mom to turn to. But I love the days I get to shre with my biys all of the things I love and remember about my mom. One day my oldest asked me why he didn’t ever get to meet her and for a moment I didnt know what to say…with tears rolling down my face I told him because even though we all miss her so much God needed her to do special things. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer to that question but I know he was ok with the answer. But it looks to me u and Cort are doing an amazing job at raising those two adorable boys and Papa Steve is smiling down on you guys!!