Category Archives: Family

Holiday Spirit

I hate this time of year.

I don’t hate the things I do this time of year. I don’t hate seeing family and friends. I don’t hate hosting the big family gathering and dinner between Christmas and New Year’s, though I admit the cleaning the house ahead of time is tedious. I really like seeing family and friends and feeding them and drinking with them.

My mom died early in December. Not long after Thanksgiving. This was her time of year. I like feeding people, and I got it from her. And with everything I do, every gathering I attend, every meal I host, she is no longer there.

I have no holiday spirit. I love my friends and family. I love hosting and feeding them. But I could have just as much fun doing it in May.

I Miss My Mom

As the title says — I miss my mom.

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Camping Pt. 2

I spent all summer at Colonial Woods from 8 years old — about 3rd grade in the US — until a few years after I graduated high school.  I met and made some of the best friends I have ever had during those years, even if they moved in and out of the campground over the years.  And every one of us lived about an hour from the campground and we were all of a similar age.

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Spring Camping — Missing Mom

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.

A Complicated Woman

Imported over from another lapsed blog.

Part the First: Dreaming

I still have dreams about my grandmother’s house. In my dreams, it still has white clapboard siding rather than red brick, and wood paneling with dark marks and circles and ovals and striations that my brain always ordered into faces. In my dreams, the only toilet and shower stall are still in the basement, open to all the world, and I can smell the mustiness. Not that the basement was a scary place when I was kid — all the grandkids loved it. My brother Yancey and I, and our cousins Maria and Crystal would go down there and play, chasing each other around and being chased by imaginary bad guys who would periodically capture us and tie us up with invisible chains to the support columns. The outside of the house had little in-ground hidey-holes that had windows looking out into them from the basement stairs; my grandmother’s cats would nest there, and have kittens, and we could watch the brood squirming and mewling from the other side of the glass.

When we weren’t playing in the basement, we were in the upstairs “bedrooms,” spaces built under the A-frame room, were there was an arc wall lamp with a shade that was perfect for maneuvering over someone’s head as a pretend brain-control device. Used, of course, by the imaginary bad guys.

And after we had escaped from the brain control experiments, the front porch swing was a space ship, and the railing on the front porch another place for the bad guys tie everybody up until we could be rescued. Or we’d go up to the top of the ridge behind the house and roll head-over-heels down the swatch cleared by my grandfather.

In my dreams, the crawl spaces leading off the attic are vast, the faces in the paneling move, the basement is dark, and the other side of the ridge edge drops off into the ocean.

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December 2011

December 2, 2011

My sister-in-law, J., cooked Thanksgiving dinner this year. In the days before, she asked for her mother’s recipes for pumpkin and cranberry bread, and for cheese pie, worn sheets of paper stained from years of use. She spent several days with trial runs, never quite happy with how things turned out. When it was good enough, she took the loaves and carefully wrapped them the same way her mother had, and when she opened them at dinner, at my father-in-law’s, the pumpkin bread was dark and moist and just like her mother’s. Abigail declared the cheese pie (made from cottage cheese) better than Grammy’s.

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