It’s spring here in southeast Pennsylvania. I’ve been camping since before I was born (seriously — there are pictures of my mother camping while pregnant with me). In 2010, my wife and I bought a camper (the Forest River Sierra model 391QB) which is really an apartment on wheels. And we parked it at Colonial Woods Camping Resort. The place I’ve been camping since I was 8 — holy crap is it really almost 40 years ago?
So, the campground opens this coming weekend. I’ve driven up there (about an hour’s drive from home) to take our camp chairs (for outside) and the sheets and blankets. It was a cold and snowy winter, so I was happy there were no leaks or signs of mice in our camper. Our camper seems to be in perfect shape. The microwave oven didn’t even need to have the time reset — the electricity didn’t go out all winter up there! A good sign since I have had to reset the time from one week to another during the camping season.
Yeah, sorry, that is all background.
Tuesday was my first trip up. I was taking our camp chairs and some wood for when I make our first campfire. But camping — well, my mom spent many years as the manager of Colonial Woods. She was there almost year round. She set up the store in the lodge, she scheduled the workers, she handled the customers who wanted to come camping. And she did this from the time I was 10.
My mom was killed by cancer in 2011. The year after my wife and I and my kids got our own RV instead of sharing my mom’s.
The two worst times of the year for me are spring — opening of camping — and December 2 — the day she died. Those are the days/times she is foremost in my mind. And then I ran into this playing on my iPod set to shuffle my Heavy Metal tracks as I was driving up on Tuesday:
“And she said – don’t cry for me, because I’ll be
Riding the wind forever free
High in the wind forever free
I’ll ride the wind forever free
High in the wind forever free”
(Of all bands — W.A.S.P. – Forever Free. Really — the guys who wrote “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)” put this together? Yeah, after years of following Metal bands, they are deeper than they let on in most of their songs.)
OK, so it’s not easy to drive with tears in your eyes.
I miss my mom. Camping was the time I got to see her every week. And she got to see her grandchildren. And every year, that started now, in spring.
It was horrible, my mom’s last year — technically, my mom’s last 8 months. Pain while vacuuming became a tumor on her liver and her lung. Cigarettes were the death of her, in the end. If anything good could be said to come of it — my kids are well on their way to not smoking cigarettes. And I hate, yes hate, that my children will not know their paternal grandmother outside of the barest impressions.