In the Good Olde Summer Time part I

 In the summer of 1976 my parents purchased a van.

 In 1976 vans were not the ubiquitous mini-vans we see today no, they were full on panel trucks with windows and two massive bench seats that took the strength of two men to remove them from the cavernous metal interior.

The van was purchased with the intent of taking the entire family camping and so curtains were made for the windows, in a lovely burnt orange/early American pattern fabric, and sleeping bags were purchased and borrowed. To this day I am never sure of the wisdom behind taking a young family camping in a van but my parents thought the idea was “groovy”.

A date was set for our first official camping trip, my brother who was 2 at the time was deemed too young to accompany us to Hershey Park so he was left with family friends and the van was packed and readied.

It was just as we were about to make the 5 hour trip that it was discovered that my sister and I had nothing to sit upon as the back-seats were now ensconced in our living room.  My father, with all the forethought of a man who had worked an 8 hour blue-collared job, packed a van and no doubt listened to much nagging from his three “little women” said, “Here! Let them sit on these lawn chairs!” and promptly unfolded two late model 1970s webbed lawn chairs. I believed they were squeezed between our sleeping bags and a laundry basket filled with firewood because god forbid one would pay for firewood!

Now, I’m going to let that soak in for a bit.

My sister and I plopped into the none-too-sturdy, slightly sagging chairs and off we went slowly pulling out onto our small country road. We were having a grand old time, my sister and I, looking out the windows and swinging our tiny little legs back and forth.

And then my father pulled into to traffic.

Needless to say that the chairs flipped over tossing my sister and I into the camping gear and I’m sure we wailed like well, like children who had just fallen into a laundry basket full of firewood.

My dad, being a dad looked in the review mirror AFTER we’d been thrown from the chairs and I clearly remember his saying, “Hold on!”

Good times!






I really shouldn’t be left alone with a cell phone

My eldest daughter works at a daycare/early childhood education center and, rightly so, they’re not allowed to use their phones during work. I applaud this and endorse it and I pretty much know my daughter wouldn’t break that rule so I was surprised when she phoned me during her work hours yesterday. I picked up the phone and it sounded like the typical “butt dial” but me, being the mother I am, shouted into the phone, “HELLO?! HEEEELLLOOO?!” about 10 times before I hung up. I was fine until it happened not three minutes later. I could hear her voice again as well as the voices of her charges and they all sounded upset so once again, “HELLO! HELLOOOO!! Is everything alright?!?!”  I shouted into the phone my heart beating rapidly. I hung up and tried to dial her but no answer. I contacted the director of her school, no answer. The phone rang again this time and I SWORE I heard MY child crying and by this time in  my overactive imagination terrorists had overrun the school and were holding the children and staff hostage and my daughter was desperately trying to contact me for help. I was starting to feel woozy and thisclose to dialing 911 when the phone RANG AGAIN, I snatched it up, “HELLO!”  “Mom! We’re not supposed to use our phones during work! WHY are you calling me?!”

I could just imagine the laugh the local P.D. would have had over that one. “Hey, remember that mom who locked her kid in the car by accident because she was afraid of car jackers?! Well, you’re not going to believe what she did this time.”


Powdered Ginger and Chocolate.

What they don’t tell you about grief, what they won’t tell you about grief, what they can’t tell you about grief until you’re soaked in it, until your fingers are pruned up and look like those pathetic white dusted raisins in that bran cereal is that grief is never ending.

Oh, after the initial “mourning period” you’ll have days where you’ll laugh and smile and then feel guilty because guilt is just as much a part of your life as the empty hole the passing of someone you love leaves but mostly grief is just a series of daily heartbreaks.  Well, more like fractures really. Fractures of your soul, tiny shards that don’t break off completely but don’t quite heal either. You’ll try to wrap your heart in a hard-shelled cast to try to keep it together and sometimes you’ll succeed and sometimes nothing stops the tiny tears to that delicate organ.

Grief is like that jar of powdered ginger that sits in the back of your spice cupboard unnoticed until you knock it over and it spills filling the air with it’s pungent bitter-sweet fragrance flooding you with memories and making your eyes water.

Unfortunately it’s all to easy to drown in it. To let grief open it’s giant maw and swallow you whole but you don’t for whatever reason, you don’t. You go on.

You go on because of the people in your life, you go on because the potential that was lost with the death of your loved one needs to be fulfilled in you. You go on because you wake up to find a huge ass streak of what you hope is chocolate cake smudged across your carpet. You go on because to give up is boring.  Who knows are truly cares why it is you go on as long as you do to prove to those who aren’t in the throes of grief that it’s possible to survive an experience as life changing as the death of a beloved.

They say grief is different for everyone, that everyone experiences it differently but the underlying common fact is that eventually we’ll all experience it and when YOU do maybe you’ll think of what I wrote and maybe it will help you soldier on.  Or maybe you’ll laugh at the fact that I have to play “Is it poop or is it chocolate?” nearly every morning of my life. Either way grief is survivable, the poop or chocolate game: not so much.