last week, i started a weekly series in telling “the story”. You can find that story here if you missed it or feel so inclined to read it again.
as a reminder, we spoke about my dad, our relationship and hopefully i gave you a pretty good idea of what he was like. now, the background on my family. a few years ago, i gave my mom a plaque that hangs in her bathroom that has the phrase “Home is where Mom is”. that little sentence says it all. moving around as much as we did, mom made wherever we were home. she instilled consistency where there was none. think about moving your family to a whole new city at least 8 times during very formidable years for a child. think about what that entails. think 3 kids!
new house, new bills, new mailing address, new schools, new neighbors, new carpet coming this week, class project due next week, new girl scouts, new indian guides, dinner on the table, katie wants a hamster, husband is traveling, son is upset, daughter #1 needs new shoes, welcome wagon is here, don’t know where the store is, there’s a hurricane, new ballet, swim, karate, tennis and baseball classes, tutoring, shopping, get the doorbell, no you can’t do that, yes please pass the pancakes
mom always had it going on. she made new friends easily, she was always home for us no matter what. we typically moved at the start of summer, so the only people we knew was US. this is the main point i want to you understand. summer didn’t come and we all split in different directions, most of the time – we didn’t know anyone.
we would always take a family vacation to kick off the summer and the new city home. from the time i was in third grade until well into my 30’s our vacation place of choice was hilton head island, south carolina. all 5 of us drove in a van we called “Vanna White” because the van was…white. driving was sometimes grueling but looking back – what memories!
Some of my favorite ones are of my mom and dad together. hearing them talk in their room late at night and laugh, holding hands, joking with each other. as a family, we had a ton of phrases and inside jokes like i’m sure all families have. we could expect that when “the devil goes down to georgia” came on the radio in Vanna White that dad would crank it up, roll down the window and play air guitar and make us all crack into non-stop giggles. we knew that we could play what we would deem “riske'” songs in front of mom because she never listened to the words, just the beat and would snap her fingers and shift her head back and forth. i knew if i woke up on a saturday morning and mom and dad were gone, that they had woken up earlier, gone for a walk and then for breakfast. they always got the same thing: two eggs, basted, hash browns, bacon and toast. except the summer they were on “the diet” together and lost a boatload of weight.
lastly, there is a scene that sticks out in my mind. it was long after my whole family moved down to texas and left me to start my career in chicago. i flew down for a summer break and visit. i had a gin and tonic with dad on the back porch looking at our pool sparkle in the twilight and the horses in the field next door. he had steaks on the grill and smooth jazz on the outdoor speakers. mom was making a salad inside. he seemed so content. so happy. he tapped at the window toward mom and said to me: “everything i am, i owe to your mom. she has been so supportive, i could not have done it without her. we make quite a team”. At 25 years old, that had such an impression on me. I thought, wow – if he could feel that way after 27 years of marriage – that is pretty cool. That is the kind of relationship i want to have someday…
flash forward 5 years from that point. i picked up the phone in chicago and heard my sister utter words i never thought i’d hear: “dad left mom, please come down here”.
Stay tuned for more “the story” – Finally! next Wednesday! have a great day today.