With tender hearts, we appreciate the little things more than ever. A field of wildflowers. The jewels in the trees. More than anything, I know our late son would not want us sad.
We even appreciate the way our youngest son, once in a blue moon, actually puts down his precious phone.
I try not to make too big deal of it, yet I often can't resist.
"Ladies and gentlemen, did you see that?" I announce while standing and applauding. "The young man over here actually put down his cellphone! Let's have a big round of applause..."
He rolls his eyes, and just to torment me, immediately picks up the phone again. In losing our eldest son, Christopher, in a car accident last month, we may have lost the funniest Erskine. But we haven't completely lost the funny.
Life goes on, life goes on...
You know, there are trends and phenomena I will never understand – the popularity of tattoos or Shia LaBeouf's career, which isn't so much a career as it is a series of magazine articles lamenting lost genius.
These indecipherable trends defy rigorous thought – at least rigorous thought by goofballs like me.
Such is my deal with smartphones.
One hundred thousand years of human evolution and we are left with kids on a couch forever playing "Fortnite," the popular video game that is now a free phone app and apparently more addictive than nicotine.
I downloaded "Fortnite" the other day, just so the little guy and I would have something new to share, besides how annoying his sisters are, or how his mother can order him to do the same chore twice in a single sentence.
As in, "Didn't I ask you to take the trash out earlier, because I'm pretty sure I asked you to take the trash out?"
See that? Twice in one sentence. That's a gift. It's also a sign of what parenting will do – turn you into a crazy person who will incessantly repeat simple instructions, as if training schnauzers.
Yet, otherwise, how would you ever get them to take the trash out?
Back to "Fortnite," which I tried to download and got this message.
"ERROR: Not enough space on your device to finish downloading required content..."
Listen, if I had a buck for every ERROR message I get or rejected friend request ... well, I'd be a very wealthy and insufferable man. But I like to think I am wealthy and insufferable in other ways.
Like with daughters.
The other morning, I got a call from the lovely and patient older daughter that she'd been attacked by a pigeon while driving downtown.
She's older now and only calls when it's a legitimate emergency. Like when she needs a spider killed or hasn't had dim sum in more than a month.
"I haven't had dim sum in FOREVER," she texted recently.
"Sounds serious," I answered.
"So we can go to that ridiculous place?" she asked. "The one you love?"
Sure, so I can drop another 200 bucks on rice? As my buddy Bill noted the other day, our adult children now make more than we do. When do they start picking up a tab?
My prediction? Never.
But back to that poor pigeon. This is not my older daughter's first run-in with nature. She once hit a deer on the Angeles Crest at night. According to her, "The deer was drunk ... you could see it in his pupils."
Now it's this random pigeon that's crossed her path. What happened is that they flew into each other, the poor bird and my daughter's Accord. The pigeon lost and the remnants were now splattered all over her driver-side window and mirror.
She was too freaked to get out of the car.
So she drove around a while trying to figure out what to do, texting friends of her plight, posting on Instagram and Snappychatter, before realizing: "Oh, that's right, I have a father; he'll do anything for me! He paid for college and my braces and the deductible when I hit that drunk deer. He'll do anything!"
Which is not without a pigeon of truth.
Next thing she knew, she was heading for the house, past all those amazing L.A. car washes – like gushing Class V rapids – to the garden hose in the front yard, where she waited for me to show up, so I could rinse the gunk away.
You know, when you get married, or start a family, they warn you of a lot of the trade-offs: bankruptcy, self-sacrifice, mental anguish, to name a few.
What they don't warn you about are moments like this, where you're standing in the front yard on a Monday morning, hosing down a car for someone who now makes more money than you do, but will always – in the slightest and sweetest respects – still be your little girl.
Life goes on, life goes on....
(Email Chris Erskine at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @erskinetimes.)