Monday, May 28, 2007


"Home is where your family is together." So spake Noah Bennett to his daughter Claire on the season finale of "Heroes".

Necessity has required that I drive to New York three times in the last two months. It is a six hour drive from where I live to where one of my younger sisters live in upstate NY - just under 800 miles round trip. I always wind up driving another 800 - 1000 miles while I'm in New York going here and there. Visiting Mom, other siblings, friends and relatives in an effort to make sure that those who are important to me know it. It makes me sad when I can't see everyone I want to.

In April, my older sister was hospitalized with symptoms of a heart attack. We have gotten closer since my divorce; united sometimes in pain over our ex-husbands, sometimes in frustration over our children, always laughing at our aging bodies and minds. It was important that I be there.

In May, my future daughter in law was being showered with gifts to start her new life married to my son. A different trip; laced with the joy of new things. New dishes, new microwave, new home, new beginnings. It was appropriate, I thought, that this was held the weekend of Mothers' Day. It was important that I be there.

This last week, my second cousin, Val, a 53 year old mother of two passed away, taken too young and too soon by cancer. To be honest, I didn't know Val well at all. She was in my Mom's wedding back in 1961 and I had seen her at various gatherings of my Mom's side of the family growing up. She was the daughter of my Aunt Winnie and Uncle Roy; two of the finest people to ever live. I imagine that at some point one has to feel that they've lived too long, having to bury a beloved only daughter. It was important that I be there.

AWinnie and URoy. As I said, two of the finest people on the planet. Uncle Roy, now at 81, was our mailman forever until he retired to work on the family dairy concern and care for his horses. A practical joker with ever a smile on his face. Aunt Winnie, my Gramma's sister, now 78, always ready with a smile and to pitch in to help. After my Dad passed, they were always there for my Mom ~ helping with my ailing Gramma, sometimes in the background, but if any of us needed anything, they were there. You could always count on them. I could do little, but just wanted them to know how sorry I was that they had lost their daughter and how much I loved them.

So we talked and talked. We had a wonderful visit. I spent three hours with them listening about Val, and when they were done they wanted to hear about my children and my life. Then I drove home.

But talking about old times I passed some major landmarks of my youth. I passed Gramma's house that Grampa had built for her. The weeping willow tree that we spent so many hours under ("It's a full ten degrees cooler under there!" ~ Gramma) swinging, dancing, climbing, playing, singing, stealing the cigarette butts Grampa threw away. We dashed behind her trunk and "smoked". I imagine the willow loved cradling us in her arms and listening to our laughter, cooling us in the summer heat, sheltering us from rain, protecting us as we slept on cots outside. The tree has since been thoughtlessly chopped down by the heathen owners of Gramma's house who didn't know that that tree was as much a part of the family as any person.

I passed "Robbie the Robot" - an electrically wired pylon or whatever it was that we named as children and one year when all of us were together, decided it was a good idea to try to climb it. The stupid adults yelled at us and made us get down. Fortunately they caught us before Shaun was killed (having been the swiftest climber) but still...stupid parents...they were so lame.

Then I passed a convenience store where the first true love of my life had gotten into a gang fight and was arrested...on made the news. I watched every single news cast that night and it was on every single time. *Sigh. How I loved Trace. I was all of 15.

I passed the farms, assailed by the scent of upstate New York farmland in summer. Uncle Roy apologized to me for smelling like a barn. I smiled; "No. I like it. You smell like my Dad. I miss that." I hugged him again and breathed in deeply.

I worried briefly that my life was in essence passing before my eyes - perhaps a bad omen. Naaaahhhhhhh. I go again to New York in June for the wedding. Beginnings. Middles. Ends. It's important that I be there.

"Home is where your family is together." So say I too.


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