Monday, July 21, 2014

these are my people

Once we left from New York, we continued our drive north to Massachusetts.  My nephew, Philip, who was once upon a time - nearly 20 years ago - the ring bearer in our wedding, was himself getting married this past weekend.  I've been thinking about this for several days and I'm not sure how it is really possible - but .... there you have it.  I'm obviously caught in some kind of Life Is Flying By At Lightening Fast Speed Time Warp.


Our first stop in Massachusetts was at my sister and her husband's house.  Earlier this year, Janet and Bob lost their beloved Golden Retriever, Bobby Joe Rockstar. Their sadness was so deep and so wide, that the only cure was for them to adopt a brand new puppy ... a beautiful Golden Retriever that they named Pearl.


Pearl is only four months old and she is quite possibly THE MOST ADORABLE PUPPY THAT HAS EVER LIVED.   For the two days that we were visiting, my children never left her alone and that is why, two days after we  left - she is still sleeping.


Four month old puppies simply do not have the endurance to handle the constant love and affection that is doled out by children who kept squealing with delight, "SHE IS SO FLUFFY!!!!" 


On our first night, we went out as a family to dinner and watched the beautiful sunset over the beautiful mountains...


The following day, Janet and Bob hosted several of our long-time friends and family at their home.  As it often happens, I was distracted and did not take pictures of everyone ... but in attendance at this fun-filled gathering was my mother, Mary, my sister, Beth, and my father's little sister, Peggy.  My sister-in-law Donna was there, along with her nine-year-old twin boys - Wally and William - and seven-year-old son, Wyatt.  There was my niece, Janine and her husband, Graham and their sweet three year old daughter, my GREAT niece, Rachel.

photo 3 copy

Janine, once upon a time - nearly 20 years ago - was the flower girl in our wedding, and seeing as Janine now has a toddler with another baby on the way ... it just further proves my Time Warp theory.  Honestly ... how do we slow down time?

There must be a way. 


At one time or another, or simultaneously, eight children splashed in my sister and brother in law's inflatable pool ...


And ran around in the full-sized basketball court on the top floor of their barn.


They played with sheep and of course, Pearl, and made awesome cousin memories.


My sister, Eileen, and her husband, Clark arrived from Michigan. And Janet invited her realtor friend, Merillyn, who was kind enough to show Charlie and I homes for sale in the area, because that's what we do every time we travel north. (It's just a matter of time!)  Janet also invited our dear friends, Donnie and Kathy.

The story goes that Donnie met my father more than 50 years ago, when he came in to a pharmacy where my father was employed (as a pharmacist of all things) in Groton, Massachusetts.  I'm not sure how it all happened, but my mother had three young children - under the age of three - at home, and Donnie - who was only a teenager - was hired as an extra hand to help my mother, who was expecting her fourth child, my sister, Beth.

Donnie soon met and married, Kathy, and the two of them would often come babysit. They obviously adored children, despite the time my mother left a colicky infant Eileen who cried for a weekend straight, because they went on to have two children of their own.  But the stories that my mother told about Donnie - and the soul grabbing laughter that shook the room was something I never want to forget.  Donnie has the most contagious laugh I've ever heard - you absolutely cannot listen to this man laugh, without busting your gut in laughter, too.   I LOVE PEOPLE LIKE THAT!


Mary, Oh Mary! Do you remember when we tried to make donuts?"  Laughter erupted as my mother and Donnie would reminisce, through their tears of hilarity, the time that they tried to make donuts and how they would eat all the donuts - and give the tiny holes to the children.  I can just see my mom as a young mother, overwhelmed with her enormous mothering responsibilities, and a young Donnie who loved the energy of our home, trying to convince my siblings, "It's time to go to bed!" so that they could eat ALL of the donuts, uninterrupted.


At one point, we Face Timed with my sister, Mary, who lives in South Carolina and is the mother of Janine, grandmother of Rachel, and was thrilled (and shocked) to see Donnie and Kathy.


She listened in and shared a few memories to supplement those that were being told.


We remembered the assortment of times that Donnie would accompany my father on his boat, "The Green Owl" which people referred to as "The Green Howl" because we were lost at sea and rescued by the Coast Guard more times than we could count.

Donnie recollected the time he was out with my father off the coast of Cape Cod and the fog suddenly rolled in so thick, he couldn't see his hand in front of his face.  My father gave him a fog light and sent him to the bow of the boat and said, "Keep an eye out for rocks and pots!" Pots meaning, lobster pots because you don't want to run over one of those and have the suspension rope hung up in your propellers. By the time they finally docked, hours later, my father - who had just bought the boat and didn't know how to dock it by reversing the engines - cut the engine completely and floated in to the dock at an accelerated speed.  Donnie said he tried to grab the dock pylons to slow the boat, but he couldn't do it and they nearly took the whole pier down.


"Oh boy did that Harbor Master light in to your father!" he roared.  "I remember he said something like, 'You need to know how to CONTROL this boat before you drive it!' But that never stopped our Walter, did it?!" 


My mother chimed in, "No, it sure didn't!  Do you remember the time we went out with the seven children and the dog {our German Shepherd, Acro} and Frank threw the anchor at low tide but Walter didn't check to make sure it was set properly?  The tide came in during the night, once we were all in bed asleep, and the boat floated 13 miles out to sea!  I woke up with the baby {me, who at the time was less than a year old} and couldn't see any of the lights from the causeway.  Janet woke up and said, "Mom, is that a whale?" and I thought JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH, we're lost at sea and we're all going to die out here!" 


As we sat enjoying each other's company, we all agreed that we really are lucky to still be alive. We are lucky to be alive in this moment: sharing wonderful memories and making even more.