I gingerly turned the doorknob of the front door of my mom’s house, trying to be as quiet and sneaky as I could be. 

Nothing, however, slips past my mom’s ears.

There she was in the living room, sitting on the couch talking to her mom and my youngest sister — no idea that I was returning home for a few days to celebrate the first anniversary of my dad’s death. 

The night before, on the plane ride to Seattle, I envisioned how she would react, “Derek, you shouldn’t have spent money to visit for only a few days,” I could hear her say. My mom is frugal. I inherited that trait from her, but not in this instance. 

Boy, was I wrong. I found out my mom, at the age of 58, has an impressive vertical jump. 

She leaped off the sofa in excitement and before making it to me, fell to the floor and started crying. She stayed in that position for what seemed like a minute before getting to her feet and embracing me with a gigantic bear hug.  

Money well spent. 

The funny thing is, hours before I walked through the door, she told my younger sister that she wished I was there — she got her wish. 

When I first started at the Kodiak Daily Mirror in 2006, I was a young pup eager to cover everything. I never took vacations, which meant not seeing family. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been back to Washington since moving to Kodiak, and more than half of the trips have come in the last three years. 

Not making a point to visit my parents more often has haunted me since my dad’s battle with cancer ended last November. Family matters and I know now that. I would give anything to take a ride in the DeLorean to visit dad one more time.

His work hat and jacket are still hanging on the coat rack by the door, while his lunch pail sits on a shelf in the hallway. The chalkboard in the kitchen still reads “Nov. 2.” It’s like he never left. 

Memories of dad are scattered all over the house, and we celebrated all of them last Saturday. We stuffed our faces with bean dip, pizza bread, pineapple upside-down cake, cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. I gained five pounds. 

I didn’t eat the entire trip — however, mom’s sweet and sour meatballs were amazing. I met 5-month-old niece Harlo for the first time, played with my four nephews and lost at Skip Bo. 

The trip was topped off when I gave up my seat on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage for a $350 ticket voucher and 2,500 air miles. I took it as a sign from dad telling me, “good job, son.” 

 

NFL PICKS  

I’m going to pat myself on the back for correctly picking the Ravens upset victory over the Patriots last week. 

That game pushed my Week 9 record to 4-1. I head into Week 10 with a 28-17 season record. 

 

KANSAS CITY AT

TENNESSEE

Patrick Mahomes was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, which means he should be good to go this week. That is bad news for Tennessee. 

Clarkston: Chiefs

 

CAROLINA AT GREEN BAY

With Cam Newton placed on the injured reserve list this week, Kyle Allen will finish the season as the Panthers quarterback. 

Allen — one of three quarterbacks with the last name Allen who started last week — has been impressive this season. However, the Packers are looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss to the Chargers last week. 

Clarkston: Packers

 

MIAMI AT INDIANAPOLIS

The Dolphins will not go winless this season. Miami knocked off the New York Jets last week for its first victory of the season. 

The Dolphins will win a few more games this season, but it just not this Sunday. 

Clarkston: Colts 

 

MINNESOTA AT DALLAS

The primetime games are solid this week, and it starts with the Vikings and Cowboys. 

Minnesota needs a victory to stay in the NFC North race. 

Clarkston: Vikings

 

SEATTLE AT SAN FRANCISCO

In what could be the best Monday Night Football game of the season, Seattle travels to San Francisco for a key NFC West battle. 

The 49ers are 8-0 and in first place, while the Seahawks are 7-2 and in second place. 

With Russell Wilson at the helm, Seattle will never be out of a game. The Seahawks find a way to win against the 49ers’ stingy defense. 

Clarkston: Seahawks

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