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Things to be Thankful For….

Nov 30

In Thoughts at 11:50pm

Anybody who knows me a little bit knows this is my favorite picture. Its my oldest daughter Caitlin, about six months old, trying to walk. She couldn’t quite get the hang of it right then, but trust me, she already knew walking was where it was at. She saw that people who could walk could get places faster, and she was definitely interested in that, even as a tyke. Heck with this crawlin’ shit! I’m gonna walk!

Wasn’t too long after this she indeed was walking, and very soon thereafter, running. She has pretty much lived her life (she’s 23 now) with the pedal to the metal.

Much to her old man’s consternation. She has had, well, a tumultuous early life, let’s put it that way. She pushed the envelope, her’s and mine, and we have had some tough, angry times. But its not all on her. (Never is, right?) I’ve been a here and there dad, being a roving photog. We used to use the term “magic daddy” sometimes when she was small. She would go to bed and I’d be there, and wake up, and I’d be gone. Or vice versa. Sometimes when I would be home, I really wasn’t. Tired or distracted, we’d snuggle for a bedtime story, and once, I just said, “You know, sweetie, dad’s so tired tonight I don’t think I can get through even one story.”

She reached over a tiny hand (she was about two) and patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry daddy, just do the best you can.”

I put alot on her, of course. Between being gone, and also kind of making her my daughter and my son. Got her scuba certified when she was 12. Took her on her first night dive three dives after her cert. Trust me, when the ocean gets inky black, it can freak even some experienced divers. She was unfazed, and fascinated.

She rode a horse like a bat outta hell. Coming back from camp, she allowed that she had won the competition where you stand on the horse’s back, barefoot, holding the reins. I didn’t really want to know. She once broke her arm snowboarding, and sawed off the cast after about a week cause it was “bothering her.”

She kind of just knows. She can sit at the tiller of a boat and know how to drive it. I let her drive my pickup on the NY State Thruway and points everywhere when she was 15. (Yes, its true. I’ll never be the cover subject of Parenting magazine.) I put both her and her sister Claire on a dog sled years ago for a joyride and Claire got seriously cold. Caity opened her jacket, untucked her shirt, took Claire’s boots off and stuck her sister’s feet next to her skin, and then just folded herself on top of Claire. She just knows.

She’s a pretty good grip. She can handle a c-stand and ratio a pack. She’s been to the Eddie Adams Workshop at least seven times. But she has no interest in photography. She kind of grew up in a photo hothouse. Her mom is the DOP of the New York Times. Her dad is, well, her dad. She has chosen a different path. Can’t say as I blame her.

But she’s a tough kid. Cool under pressure. She’d be good to have in the foxhole with you when the chips are down.

Two days before Turkey Day, she was leaving her boyfriend Ryan’s house early in the morning, and she hit black ice. Her car slid right off the roadside where there should be a guardrail and plunged down a 40′ ravine, rolling over twice. It came to rest upside down. Caity was left hanging in her seatbelt, also upside down, and covered in blood. She was lucky to still be conscious. There is no sight line from the road to the ravine, and no one saw her go over. She could have easily bled to death at the bottom.

She unbuckled her belt. And was collected enough to grab the oh shit handle above the passenger door and with both feet, bust out the passenger window. She clambered back up to road, still spilling blood everywhere. She doesn’t remember walking back to Ryan’s house.

At the hospital, she got 3 stitches in her hand. All her cranial wounds were left to close on their own. Cat scans were negative. She was stiff and sore, but told me she was thinking of going to work that day. Wiser heads prevailed.

As I told her tonight, maybe the best genetic gift I gave her was a hard head. I’m very thankful for that.

More tk….

132 Responses to “Things to be Thankful For….”

Pablo says:

on November 30, 2008 at 11:56 pm

thanks for sharing this.
Thank God! your daughter is “0k”.
great cranium genetics!

Jay says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:01 am

Woah, real life is always more dramatic than fiction. Pleased to hear she’s doing OK.

Laura Wootan says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:05 am

Caitlin sounds like an extraordinary woman. I’m so glad she’s okay! What a brave girl!


trunkmonkey says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:07 am

please send my best to Katie. our prayers are with her for a fast recovery.

Annemarie Mountz says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:24 am

Joe, as the mother of two teen-agers, I got chills reading your post. I’m so glad Caitlin is going to be OK.

Bruce says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:25 am

Stories like this just re-awake the fearful mortality feeling I’ve had when it is someone close to me who encounters a life changing moment such as Caitlin’s. I’m glad she is OK and your story will help you “get it out”. Life goes on… but never the same. Keep on and God’s speed, Caitlin.

willie says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:25 am

Indeed it is something to be thankful for.
Maybe you should dig out one of her childhood story books and read her another story — no matter how tired you are :-)
Precious moments indeed!

David Apeji says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:27 am

And all this happened just last Tuesday?! Man, this must have been a hectic time for you. I wish her a speedy recovery.

Greg Cook says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:34 am

I have been through this situation twice with my oldest son. It’s tougher on us Dad’s than it is on the kids. Glad to hear Kaitlin will be okay. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for both of you.

Michael Sebastian says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:51 am

Joe, you scared the shit outta me. That could be MY little daughter trying to walk in that photo. I thought you were going to give us terrible news.

I am so thankful your daughter escaped serious harm. God bless you both.

Ray Ketcham says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:51 am

I feel for you and your daughter. Been there. There is no sicker feeling than that call from the hospital about your kid, no matter what age they happen to be. I hope both of you recover quickly.

wango says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:56 am

Thank you for sharing, thank the creator she is ok and safe(ish), and thanks for the lesson in perspective.

Rob Byron says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:57 am


Very glad to know Caity is okay. God bless all of you. Thank’s for sharing this very personal and warm story about your family.


JVL says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:59 am

Joe, Amazing. As a new dad I have the gift to look forward and backwards in time over every unimaginable thing that could possibly go wrong. John Irving said it’s how he wrote the World According to Garp, and here you are, now telling your own story – though it’s real – there’s a happy ending here where we both know, for many other parents, there isn’t.

Your daughter now has a great story to tell her kids someday…

frenchy750 says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:02 am


Thank God Caity was OK, must’ve been a joyous Thanksgiving this year!

Steve Cherrier says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:19 am

So glad to hear that your daughter is OK, Joe! Thank you for taking time to visit our Strobist group in Vancouver during this trying time for you!

Ian says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:27 am


As a father of a daughter, and as somebody who sees accidents like your daughter’s everyday at work, please know my best wishes and thoughts are with your family. I’m glad Caitlin is ok.

It was a pleasure meeting you today.



Karen says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:28 am

Thank goodness she’s okay.

My daughter is just three and is at the age of wanting books read to her. I’ll be more patient now that I’ve read your post:)

Mark K. says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:34 am

Wow, rough holiday! For everyone! Glad to hear Caitlin is OK after all that. The Big Fella looking out maybe…..always loved this image and was happy to see it in TMIC. I’m still looking to shoot something similar of my little one…

Ally B. says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:38 am

She sounds like a strong girl:]
I’m happy she’s okay. I’ll be praying for y’all.

Kevin says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:39 am

Wow. Brave of you to put this out there. Wonderful writing, it really speaks to me and some events of my past. Thank God it didn’t turn out any worse! My best to you and yours.

Wonderful photo, by the way. I wish I had photos like that of my kids.

Gary Lane says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:40 am

I am very grateful that she is okay. Our family will keep her in our thoughts and prayers while she recovers. What a blessing that nothing more serious happened.
Kind of puts everything else in perspective. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

PXLated says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:02 am

Wow – Glad she’s ok – Scary stuff.

Jim Child says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:02 am

You are both blessed….with life and the many talents that is enjoyed by all of us.

Brad says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:04 am

It, life that is, reminds us what’s truly important sometimes doesn’t it. Sharpened perspective is a good thing. Thanks for sharing and remind us of our own. Carpe diem. Squeeze tight.

-april says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:04 am

I’m so glad that she’s alive, without any serious injuries. Thank goodness for a hard head!

Christian says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:17 am

I visited your blog again and wondered why you posted Katie’s old photograph again.

I am so sorry to hear what happened but then again, very thankful nothing happened to her. I am very glad she’s ok.

Send my regards to her and your family.

cheers from Dubai!

Jay Mann says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:17 am


I am most happy and relieved to hear that Caitlin is OK. 6 years ago, the day before Canadian Thanksgiving, my 19 year old daughter fell from her horse, she did not survive. We have many wonderful memories of a strong person who was similar to how you described Caitlin.

Treasure every minute with your girls.


Christian says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:19 am

I visited your blog again and wondered why you posted Katie’s old photograph again.

I am so sorry to hear what happened, but then again very thankful she’s fine. I’m glad she’s ok.

Send my regards to her and your family.

cheers from Dubai!

Mariano Kamp says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:45 am

All the best wishes and a speedy recovery.

Frédéric Klee says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:48 am

I wish Katie All the best !

heesoo says:

on December 1, 2008 at 3:17 am

glad to hear she’s okay… I love these little inklings we get about your life from your blog and lets just say you live an interesting life.

anyways good to hear an angel is on ur side… we’ve had some turkeyday accidents of our own down here in texas… some didn’t have a happy ending… Glad to see that there is alot to be thankful for during thanksgiving…

RC says:

on December 1, 2008 at 3:39 am

Jenn and I wish Caity a quick recovery. -Man- she’s good..


Mike Nelson Pedde says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:02 am

As a grandparent with little ones in the about to crawl stage, I can definitely relate to this picture!

So glad to hear Caitlin is doing alright.

Love and hugs to you all.


AlanL says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:12 am

Your daughter sounds like a very tough reslient young lady. Thank goodness she remained calm and given the situation things worked out well.

Ian Scotland says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:36 am

Thanks for the good news that Caitlin’s OK – every good wishes for a speedy recovery. This ‘parenting’ stuff’s really hard sometimes, isn’t it ?
God bless you.

Mike says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:41 am

All the best to you and your family during the Holidays, Joe! I’m so glad that things ended up alright. That is a scary story, and it definitely puts things in focus. Hope she feels better soon. ..mike

Harvey Chua says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:13 am

Thank God your daughter is okay.
Thank you for writing this piece. It’s very touching!

Michelle Jones says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:24 am

wow, I’m glad she survived, my stomach did a backflip when you got to the part where she goes over the cliff.

Hugs to you and yours, and I hope she gets well quickly.

Adam Swords says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:47 am

Sounds like the sort of daughter every parent wishes for. All things considered, I’d say you’ve been dealt a good hand in this life, Joe. I’d be thankful too.

I wish Caity a speedy recovery.

Ken says:

on December 1, 2008 at 6:17 am

Thank god and glad that Caitlin is okay. Don’t worry so much big guy!

Hope that she have a speedy recovery.

reg says:

on December 1, 2008 at 6:50 am

Ill hug my kids a bit tighter today joe
guess her dads luck radiates out

Brian C says:

on December 1, 2008 at 7:24 am


So so sorry to hear this. And very glad she is ok. As a parent, I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through these last few days. I hope I speak for all of us who read your blog regularly, when I say we are all thankful that Caitlin is ok.

All the best wishes for her and for you.

Brian C

Joe says:

on December 1, 2008 at 7:46 am

Good luck and Godspeed to both of you. Something to be thankful for indeed.

Bob Redding says:

on December 1, 2008 at 7:59 am

My dad was a newspaper photog and while he didn’t travel much he did work very odd hours, which changed every 2 months. There were long periods that I barely saw him. It tough, this thing about having a career and family. I remember being on a business trip and getting a call that my daughter was in the hospital, 2500 miles away. Nothing worse, even now that mine are grown…..

I’ll be praying for Caitlin and for you Joe. Hang in there. Thanks for the great post! She sounds like a great kid!

Gary says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:07 am

We ran across the term “spirited” as we tried to figure out how to be a good parent — basically spirited can summed up with the word “more.” 2 broken arms, fractured skull, totaled car and injured shoulder. I thought girls would be easier in those respects but glad to know I am in good company. Best for a fast recovery. Precious, precious picture.

Jon says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:08 am

Wow, what a story, Joe! I read this with mixed emotions – happiness, because Caitlin survived her ordeal with manageable injuries; and worry, because my daughter (who’s middle name is Caitlin) is currently traveling back to college on the snowy, slick Michigan roads.

gggwood says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:26 am

Woah. Things can change in the blink of an eye.
I’m happy for her AND you…

daveb_za says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:30 am

Tough doesn’t begin to describe it, obviously. Glad to hear she’s fine, but it’s stories like this that make me glad to be in a country without snow and ice.

arun says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:46 am

Joe – Thanks for the little snippet into your life. I am glad your “lil” girl is doing fine and I pray for her speedy recovery. There are surely a lot of Blessings that we ALL take for granted and certainly, family is one of them. Hope you had a blessed thanksgiving bro !!

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