Family time! I was looking forward to it. We last saw each other in October when Hayden was confirmed; my broken arm preventing our annual haunted house. Emails, texts, and phone calls don’t take the place of an actual visit. There was one point, a few years ago, where I don’t think I saw my Dad for almost two years. Way too long.
It was nice to sleep in a bed only steps away from the bathroom. No late-night dashes during this stay.
My parents have a lovely home, much different than the one I grew up in on Long Island. It is larger, with much more property, and a pool. But this is their home, not mine, and going “home” to me, when not in reference to Hopkins, means Sag Harbor. I don’t think this is uncommon, at least not for people in my age group that grew up in the East. Long Island is expensive and pension dollars stretch farther the more you head South. For some, it makes sense to move after you retire.
They moved almost ten years ago and I thought the selling of the old homestead would adversely affect me as I am fairly sentimental. It didn’t. At the time, I had lived away from the Denise Street house longer than I had lived in it. Renovations had changed the house from what it was to something different, we jokingly called it “The Compound”, the garage and pool put in long after I left. The Boys remember it for Summer “Camp Nanny Dah Visits”. I remember it the old way, as home during my formative years, the smell of dinner hitting me as I open the front door after walking down the drive on a cold winter’s night. But reality outweighed sentimentality and I realized the move was good for them. No tears, but joy when a buyer was confirmed.
There are parts of the “old” house all over the “new” house and in typical Grandparent fashion, pictures are everywhere. I can see the family progress through the ages and the momentous occasions of their lives. My boys leap off the refrigerator at me, suddenly 12 or 10 or 5. The memories of my family life stare back at me and I realize how fast it all went. The boys are now men, no more bursting out from behind paper towel rolls or yelling at people from the milk cooler in Schiavoni’s IGA. But each year has its benefits, our relationship changing as they grow older. We get to do more adult type things together and their independence provides Sheri & me with opportunity. If they were still young I wouldn’t be on this trip; maybe it’s a little selfish of me to think like this.
After an egg sandwich breakfast and discussions on how you can’t get a good hard role off Long Island, I settle down in the screen room to start catching up on the blog. An envelope of discomfort hits me, the heat and humidity stifling or as I like to call it “deathly”. I am thinking people refer to this type of weather as “sticky” because it grabs onto your skin and won’t let go. The realization that I am on the “hot” leg of my trip is saddening and it will be a while before I again feel cool mornings. But the porch has a fan and a large table to spread out on and we can look out at the backyard and woods. It makes a good setting. Mabel is enjoying her freedom and pushes her boundaries like a typical 11-month-old puppy. She smells all over the yard and attempts to escape into the woods. Once again, we should have had more puppy training classes together.
Tonight, we will get together as a family and pay tribute to my Grandfather who passed away in his sleep late last year. His life started out with so much suffering; coal mine poverty, injury during WWII, countless surgeries and hospital stays, so it was fitting that he was spared any more pain when it turned out to be his time. Grandpa liked to work outside and one of his last projects was clearing a small part of the property for what he considered a little park. It gave him purpose, something everyone wants, so that is where we said our goodbyes. A BBQ later let the extended family (Kelli, Greg, & Melissa) catch up on the happenings since we last saw each other.
It's funny, no matter how hard I try to be “Ron” when I am with family and friends, I am always referred to as “Ronny”. I don’t even fight it anymore and just roll with it. This weekend was no different.
Over the course of the weekend we did a lot of visiting and I squeezed some writing in as well. The weather was not the best but I did get one day in the pool. Ice cream followed at Ben’s Ice Cream Shop on the outskirts of town. The waffle cone filled with homemade ice cream, too much for me, but I had to finish it, the heat sending streams of ice cream down my arm. The shop was a family affair and they displayed 8x10 glossies of this summer’s workers and where they were headed to college. Small towns are nice like that. Monday involved an oil change; hard to believe I have hit 5,000 miles already. The car wasn’t just suggesting one, it was commanding it and reminded me each time I turned it on. The Ford dealer gladly sold me a new battery, the car dead in the driveway before we even started for the day. The battery has plagued me since Wisconsin and I have tried to adjust, but it was time to get it fixed. I have gone through hang-nail type car problems on this trip, I hope it stays at that and nothing big happens. On the way back we stopped and saw my sister’s horses. I like horses as long as there is a fence between us
Since I see my folks maybe once a year, there are parts of their life that I know little about. They mention their friends on the phone, or who they saw at church, but I don’t get a glimpse into their regular days. So, it was nice to see their friend/neighbor Linda Dalton who is a potter living up the street. She was available for a tour of her studio and I thought it neat to meet a friend of my folks. We drove up to her house, my Mom bringing coffee cake to return the favor of fresh eggs from her chickens and I was amazed at her studio. Thinking this was a hobby instead of an industry, I expected a small shed, maybe the size of my cube (I had a large cube) where she made a few pots. The studio is larger than my house and segmented into work space and a gallery. Linda showed us around and spun a pot as she explained the process. The obligatory “Ghost” reference was made as she worked the wheel. It is quite a process to make pottery and a large investment in time and equipment. She told us they go through two tons of clay a year in making their pottery and her inventory was quite extensive. Linda and her husband are very well known in an area that is well known for their potters. Bus tours full of pottery enthusiasts will amble down backroads paying potters visits to purchase their wares. I moseyed over to the gallery, it looked like a main street store and browsed her offerings. A few pieces caught my eye.
We said our goodbyes, picked up my car, now with healthy starting and lubrication systems. I would leave tomorrow, heading to the North Carolina Coast but first we had dinner and visited some more. My Dad handed me my hat and showed me the door in three Gin card games. As I like to say you can’t do anything if the cards don’t come, and they definitely didn’t come. In one game, I won only one hand, for nine points. It was a slaughter. My dismal showing was an excuse to hit the hay, Mabel and I climbing the steps, our last night under a real roof and in a comfy bed.