Four years ago today, it was just another one on part of my 15,000 mile “Odyssey” Road trip.
I was leaving Welland Ontario after a very special one week visit with Giulia Forsythe.
I called my Mom (in Florida) in the morning for our usual quick touching base calls, just another call where we teased each other and laughed.
I met Kim Gill for lunch in Oshwa, east of Ontario, after doing a little bit of walking around a lake side park that had a view of the Darlington Nuclear Reactor.
Before leaving Oshwa, I remembered to get a postcard and mail to Mom- I was doing a project of sending her a post card from every state and province I visited. Sure I had a lot of Ontario left (I was going at least to Montreal, with dreams of getting out to the Maritimes).
I actually stopped at The Big Apple in Colborne. How can you do a road trip and not stop to see a giant sized apple statue? I also had a booboo trying to back away from a gas pump, and put a dent in the side of my truck. The dent and blue paint from the cement pole are still there.
I arrived in Belleville at the home of ds106 friend and colleague Andy Forgrave. I planned for just another August 28 to be in Montreal, but in the evening we met with his colleague (Doug?) for dinner in town.
And that’s where this August 27 turned out to be like no other, because during the dinner I got a phone call from my sister, who was frantically screaming “Mom is gone!”
I’ve written the Cookielove story elsewhere, but here, four years later, the memory both feels far and close.
So what to do, except write Another Blog Post About a Deceased Relative. It’s for me, how I keep their story alive by telling them to myself. And so I reach into the old photos…
There they are in their 1960s clothes, Dad with his sideburns and bright tie, Mom with her “silver” hair color and heavy eye shadow.
From a visit to my sisters house in Baltimore, maybe 1994? Then I could count on the hugs being something on the eternal supply line. In the middle of your family times, you do not ponder them ever not being available. They are Just Always There.
Hah! How many people got hot tubbing with their Mom. She was not a fan of the tub here in Strawberry, this was one of a few times she obliged.
Yep a selfie before they had a name, in May of 2005. I had a small 35mm pocket camera this was taken with. I think this was the time my ex and I brought her Mom to visit mine on Sanibel Island, in Florida. Both moms are gone.
But I am not done with you, August 27. On this day in 2001, exactly ten years before Mom’s heart suddenly gave out on her, my Dad gave in to his dance with cancer. He was diagnosed in March, so invasive in his stomach and nearby organs there was no treatment. For his birthday in May, I visited in the hospital and once more in early August 2001. Dad was himself, but he was also decaying, you could see it in his struggle to pay attention. I cannot even begin to respect what families have to go through day by day in watching a loved one do this long dance to death.
I do not know what I am laughing like a goofball here maybe in 1968, but my memories of Dad are wallpapered with seeing him working with the barbecue grill, or pushing the lawnmower around the yard, or preparing the above the ground pool for winter, or washing his car religiously every Saturday or walking out of the big waves on the beach in Ocean City Maryland. I think about him doing this stuff, alone with his thoughts, intent on the task… and I find myself doing this while working a shovel in my own yard, or focused on my barbecue grill.
But I do not wear shorts like that.
I bet I do not need to tell you this was 1976, the proud Bar Mitvvah parents. The Big Party was a huge deal, likely the largest event they ever planned. I am sure I knew almost nothing about what it took them to organize it.
All I knew was that they thought of me unconditionally as maybe The Most Important Person in the World (I am hopeful they did the same for my sisters).
You do not get that from everyone, or anyone it feels like. “Unconditional”? That sounds so archaic. But it becomes as assured as the earth you stand on, as much as you know the sun will appear and warm the world every August 27.
It’s not a day of sadness, it’s just another August 27 where I thank them for everything.
Just another openly licensed photo I can use… Top / Featured Image Credits: flickr photo by mararie http://flickr.com/photos/mararie/6715436855 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license