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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….”

Iggy says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:58 am

Joe, that is a story that could have had a tragic ending, but came out a different way. I am happy for the both of you..

Tony Pettis says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:01 am

Wow. Anyone who has kids had their heart skip a beat or two on reading that story. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter.

Michael Carney says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:07 am

I think she got her hard head from her father :)

I hope she has a speedy recovery.


Bob Montgomery says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:22 am

Thanks for sharing, Joe. It’s like reading about my own last week and grateful thoughts. My daughter just had an accident last week, too, this one on a slushy road that ended up with half her car sheared off by a telepone pole… thankfully the passenger side with no one in it. She’s also bruised, shaken and sore, but alive.

It’s a crazy world. Thank God for hard heads.

Tom Aellis says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:23 am

Joe, what is there to say? At first I did nothing but identify and then shock and then relief. Thank goodness she is ok. If there is a more powerful being then us, and I believe there is, then this proves that both you and Caitlin did something very right. No doubt that Annie played a big role as well as Caitlins Mother. I’m glad she is ok.

Marc says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:27 am

Hi Joe,

best wishes for your daughter!!

From the stories you told i guess she’s a tough young lady and i hope
the best for her!
I feel with you, i experienced something similar, just that it was my dad
being at the border to the next world…

Wish you well and i hope you will have a nice Xmas time with your family,

john waire says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:39 am

amazing joe! i’m really glad that your daughter is ok. as a dad who also has a little girl…there’s something pretty damn special about the bond between a father and a daughter.

i’m thankful. be well.

Alice Mullen Drake says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:41 am

Oh, Joe

I’ve got one just like her.

She hit this planet with her motor running and hasn’t stopped since. It has been all that I can do to keep up with her.

I know you must have felt like the Hand of God was squeezing your chest when you got the call, and “thankful” doesn’t begin to describe the cascade of feelings that must have followed. The one thing an adventurous daughter will teach a parent is gratitude and humility.

God may bless them and watch over them, but he has to take better care with their parents. Sometimes we need it!

It is good to know that she is going to be just fine, I am grateful along with you.


Andy says:

on December 1, 2008 at 9:42 am

Hey, I didn’t think you were just telling us that you were thankful for your daughter for not reason, but hey, that ending hits like a train wreck. I join the chorus in wishing her a fast recovery, and a return to life at warp speed. :)

Jay says:

on December 1, 2008 at 10:25 am

glad Caitlin is OK. The title of the post says it all…

“Things to be Thankful For….”


Jonathan says:

on December 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

Wow, this is something that begin a new parent (5 month old boy) scares the living mierda (spanish for poop) out of me. I am glad she is ok and she will get better and that you didn’t get a heart attack.

William Beem says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:08 am

Perhaps you and your wife SHOULD be on the cover of a Parenting magazine. It sounds like you both did a great job with a wonderful daughter.

Jeremy says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:21 am

I’m so relieved at how this turned out, Joe. You’re a good father to cherish every moment.

Definitely could have been worse, though. She could have woke up in a remote cabin, bandaged up in a bed, being tended to by her “Number 1 fan”.


Karen says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:44 am

Joe, you claim you’d never make the cover of Parenting, but I’ll tell you, as a woman who was raised much the way you raised your daughter that you did better by her than anyone who was too close and too careful. You raised a self-sufficient human. Someone who can take care of things. And that’s rare.

Glad she’s okay.

Frank McPartland says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:45 am

Joe: I am sorry to hear about Caitlyn’s accident — I hope she makes a full recovery soon!

Jack Miller says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:47 am

Joe, Those of us who lived a traveling career during our kids’ early years always wonder. I know that I do. In a perfect world, we wish we could provide for our families doing things that inspire us and the people around us and never miss a bedtime story or a soccer match. Good for our kids that we must make practical choices which force them to learn how to stand up on their own. God’s plan is far more sophisticated than our own. That is truly something to be thankful for.


David Tejada says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:50 am

Thanks for sharing this Joe. Thanks God she’s OK!

Fausto Rowlan says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:52 am

Joe, your daughter is a remarkable young woman. I’d say she was lucky, but from the stories you’ve told us and written about her, I don’t think luck played a big part in this. I’m very glad to hear she’s ok and wish you and your family a safe Holiday season.

Danielle says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Wow, Caitlin sounds like one tough girl! So happy it turned out well for you. You will all be in my prayers!

Piotr says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Geez you scared me to death, Mr. McNally! I keep my fingers crossed for Caitlin to recover quickly. Looks like she’s a really tough young woman – she will be ok sooner than anyone expects.

Earl says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I feel your pain, my brother. My baby girl’s 28 and very hard headed! I don’t know where she gets it.

Glad she’s okay.

Allegra says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Good lord! What a thing to be thankful for. :)

Dmitry says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Good to hear she is OK. Scarry things.

Marshall says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for the reminder. It’s a weird life we live, and it’s good to be reminded from time to time how much of it should be appreciated.

Best to your daughter in her recovery. And to your nerves as well.

- MG

John Milleker says:

on December 1, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Wow Joe, touching story and then the end! Glad she’s OK, here’s to a quick recovery.

Deji says:

on December 1, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for sharing Joe and glad she came through okay. Reminds us of what is really important in life. Blessings to you & yours.

Joshua says:

on December 1, 2008 at 2:54 pm

That was such an intense story. I am very thankful to hear that your Daughter is ok. Its a good reminder to appreciate all the time we have with the people we love never knowing what could happen tomorrow. There is so much to be thankful for!

Bill Young says:

on December 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm

I’ve got a 19 year old daughter who drives over Snoqualmie Pass in Washington all the time, and I can’t stop thinking about her since I read your post.

Joe, I think you’re every bit as good conveying emotions verbally as you are photographically, and that’s saying something.

I’m happy she wasn’t seriously hurt, and that you shared her story with us. Thanks.

Gabriel says:

on December 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I’m glad your kid is okay. That’s a scary story. Wow.

Bay says:

on December 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Wow Joe, Goosebumps. I’m so glad she’s okay.

Cassie Richardson says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Hi Joe,
I dont know if you remember me, but i’ve been a friend of caity’s since we were about 9 at camp sloane- i modeled for you a few years ago but havent seen or spoken to you since then.
i think i just cried my way through that entire story, partially because i, too was there for most of it. but also because i miss her terribly and i’m glad to know she’s okay now, but it sucks that this is the first thing i’ve heard of her aside from every once in a while “she’s doin’ alright” from claire.
i just wanted to send my love to you guys and hope that maybe you could ask caity to call me. and i’d really like to come see her if i could.
have a wonderful holiday season,

Jack McGinnis says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Joe, sounds like you raised an amazing young woman. I’am so glad she is OK. Looks like you were very blessed this Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.

Randy Cole says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm


Being the father of 3 boys (18, 18, and 16) and having travelled or worked late most of their young life, I can appreciate your situation. Thank God my kids have been blessed and not experienced something like this, only minor contact with trees, ice, and fence posts. Thank God she is alright. Things like this really make you appreciate what you have. Thanks for sharing.

Darrell Peterson says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I join the multitudes in wishing Caitlin, you and the rest of your family a speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing such a touching personal story. I think what happens frequently for parents who are away from their families is that because they are gone and miss out on a lot of the “growing up”, they make it a point to make it up to them and do a lot with them when they are able to. It sounds like your case, Joe. Those of us who are not away from our loved ones and are able to be home with them every night often take that time for granted and sometimes also miss some of the growing up. I know I have found myself guilty at times. You have caused us all to stop and think about things to be thankful for. Truly beautiful photo!

Blake says:

on December 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Thanks for sharing, and reminding us of why we are thankful. Best wishes and fast healing!

Billy Mitchell says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Sorry. We take care of them and then one day they are taking care of us.

Eric Lee says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Simply an incredible story, Joe. I’m glad to hear she’s doing well. All the best for her in a speedy recovery!

Tom Marriage says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm


So glad Caitlan is OK. I was really worried when you started talking about the wreck!

I sort of know what you were going through–I have 2 daughters that both gave me fits as they were growing up. They are 26 and 24 now and have both turned out OK but I really had my doubts at times. I have no hair now but other than that I have survived!

Again, so glad Caitlan was not seriously injured. Best to you and your family.


T Peterson says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Joe, you’re such a nutty guy…normally, then, every once in a while, you write something so elequent it stops people in their tracks. (your story about the 911 photos comes to mind. )

Had a similar experience with my older son, but instead of going down a ravine, he tried driving up a cliff and flipped his car end over end.

Glad to hear that Katie’s okay. Tell her people all around the world, who are fans of her dad, are thinking of her.

Richard Mallory Allnutt says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Really relieved to hear that everything was ok in the end. It must have been a gut-wrenching experience though. It just shows you how important seat belts are….. and letting the people you love know that you love them too.


Eduar says:

on December 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Wow, thanks goodness it was only the bruises!! I hope she will have a speedy recovery and she said it to you at age two, do your best and spend the most time you can with her.

Nick K says:

on December 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm


My dad and I have always been extremely close, and I consider him more then my best friend. Like you and your daughter, we’ve fought, yelled, cried, and loved over the years. Reading this made me realize how thankful and lucky I really am to have someone like that in my life. You yourself are very lucky to have a family like you have.

Through your photos, techniques, and stories, you’ve allowed my dad and I to become closer then we’ve ever been. We both have a passion for art and photography, and admire your work very much. The other day, we were freezing in the back yard taking pictures cracking up about how Joe would’ve tossed a couple SB900′s on the roof and a few on the fence to really make this photo shine.

Thanks for the story buddy, and I’m happy your daughters alright. Happy Holidays

Richard Cave says:

on December 1, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Well at least she is well, a bit bruised and battered, hope she gets better,

my dad is getting old now scarily old he is now slowing down and I dont get to see him as much as I could. She knows you love her, you are not born with mental courage, you are not born to succeed, those come with family love and what ever your mistakes of the past look at the person you nurtured and created.

I dont have a family of my own, something I regret but if I was to have daughter I would want like yours.


randy says:

on December 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm


God bless Caitlin. Thank God for hard heads — I too survived an accident with only a lump on the temple and a slightly sloshed brain. It’s a great excuse for me today!

This morning, because state of Ilinois passed a law where motorists have to stop for pedestrians IN A CROSSWALK, a young lady walked in front of my van, followed by two of her tots, headed for the Catholic school across the street. No crosswalk, didn’t matter. Chicago got a blast of icy snow last nite and roads were slick. I was going 5mph, engaged the brakes, slid, even with anti-locks and laid on the horn to warn her. The van fishtailed. She flipped me the bird. I rolled down the window and splained her a fact of life. “Please don’t do this anymore, you’re putting your kids’ lives at risk.” She was speechless. No name calling, just the truth. Hope the message sunk in.

Let’s all put the cell phones down, put both hands on the wheel and be careful, all right?!

haze says:

on December 1, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Hi Joe,

What a story! I just recently sighed up for you blog and this is the first time I’ve read it. It’s going to be tough for you to top this!

I’m about your age and have four kids that have given me 30 years of a crazy, tumultuous, sometimes frightening, but always interesting ride. But in the final analysis they are a tremendous blessing, and my life would be woefully lacking without them. I’m so glad to hear that Caitlin is safe and will continue to keep your life enriched and slightly panicked!


Daniel Hurtubise says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm

I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ve been a big fan over the years and you guys almost are almost family to me. You know how it is when we feel like we know you just because we read(watch) you :-)
Now it’s time for daddy to take some time off. Take care of the little girl (they always are to the eyes of a loving father) and get back on track whenever you feel like. Will miss you but it’s ok ;-)
Our toughts are withyou guys, hang in there and see you soon.

From a foreign men from a foreign country (as you would say about Dave Cross) takecare, we got your back ;-)

Ellen Adams says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:23 pm

So glad to hear that your daughter is all right. Tough cookie, I’d say, and very blessed! Thanks for sharing the story.

Bill Bogle Jr. says:

on December 1, 2008 at 8:26 pm


the telephone call is one you don’t ever want to get. Yesterday my daughter Emily was driving back to RIT where she is a sophonore Photojournalism student. The 5 hour drive to Rochester was in heavy holiday traffic, made more difficult by rain, freezing rain and snow. About 3 1/2 hours since she left, I got that call you dread. She had been in an accident on the NYS Thruway. As she cried and tried to speak, I got the words that she was not hurt, nor the other driver, but her car was off in the median. I shot out of the house, and made it through the rain and snow to Chittanango and the rest stop she was able to limp the car to with the help of a State Trooper. I gave her the biggest hug, and reassured her that everything was alright, and I would be there whenever and wherever I could if she needed me. We spent the night in Canastota, and got some cables, lashed down the bent up hood, tested the car, and followed her all the way to Rochester, stopping at each rest stop to make sure that she and her car was okay. We got to her to her apartment, and got her car to a local body shop, where it is going to take a fair amount of work to get it back together and safe. She was mortified, but we talked it out, and we both learned from this. I made the 5 hour trip back, having traveled over 700 miles in a little over 24 hours, but am able to say we are all safe and sound, and she made it to class.

I opened my computer this morning to read your post. I could not think clearly, knowing I had to get her to Rochester and myself back home in the rain and snow. Upstate weather is so difficult – I went to school at Colgate, just south of Utica and Syracuse.

Like any other parent, it is the toughest thing to let them go, and let them find their way when they stumble and get hurt. You cannot protect them always, but boy it hurts.

My heart goes out to you, your daughter, her mother and Annie. I hope all is well.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Pierre Vignau says:

on December 1, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I have two girls, 9 and 14. In their own individual ways they are like Catlin. I was reading your post and got scared. Man I love a happy ending. ‘Cause this is a happy ending. Take care of her (if she lets you) and of yourself,


John Leonard says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:07 pm


I’m glad she is OK. I used to be a cop and I have seen more than my share of bad accidents. Prayers and thoughts are with the both of you.

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