Memorial Day 2020: The Family Gathers, an F150, and I Yelp about Social Distancing

Hey.

It’s the Tuesday after what has probably been a quiet Memorial Day weekend for many of us (if you, though, are reading this not from your living room couch but from a crowded beach, please know a] I’m mad at you because SOCIAL DISTANCING, and b] I’m jealous of you because BEACH).

  1. I noticed this weekend that I managed to mess up Cian’s buzz cut last week (shocked, are you?): there’s a strip of hair above the nape of his neck that’s noticeably longer than any of the hair above it. Which means that as it grows he’s going to get a mullet. Which means that I am never, ever, ever touching the hair on that boy’s head with clippers ever again. He’ll just have to learn how to braid.
  2. I made Mom’s deviled eggs again yesterday. They tasted more like how she used to make them, and that made me happy. (My sister-in-law made key lime pie. That, too = happy.)
  3. I’m reading Emma Straub’s All Adults HereI love her books, and this one is no exception–Straub works magic when it comes to making her characters real–but one of the main characters is a mom just a little younger than my own, and when she appears, the reading gets tough. It’s a strange feeling, to have a fictional character make you miss the everyday stuff, but there you have it. The book and I have been spending a lot of time on the front porch, and it wasn’t long ago at all that Mom and I would share a drink out here some evenings in the nice weather (and not-so nice weather: one of her favorite nights was Halloween watching the kids trick-or-treat here, which meant the two of us sitting together chatting with blankets over our laps, sipping from mugs of spiked mulled cider). David and I got new Adirondack chairs for the porch this spring. She’d love them.
  4. Paul and Sarah are spending their last full day with Mom before they head back to Wisconsin early tomorrow. They’ve been here since late Thursday night. Paul worries about arriving back home only to have to get on a plane to come right back, but we don’t know. No one knows.
  5. Speaking of Mom (something new!), a friend texted yesterday to ask after her. I didn’t know how to respond, so I said the truth: “It’s not the same anymore, but she’s holding on.” She spends a lot of time with her eyes closed now, is what I wanted to say. But I didn’t.
  6. We had a cookout yesterday at her house–me on high tension alert from outside in the yard, yelping “Social distancing! SIX FEET APART!” at the tiny group of family members there, because I’ve always been one to let my people enjoy themselves–and Mom was able to be in her wheelchair in her sunroom for about an hour. The grown-ups ran barefoot races with the kids and talked about Choppy and Schitt’s Creek and baking and books. It was good.
  7. Paul and Sarah rented a truck–a beautiful red F150–for their trip here. I think it’s a trial run for Paul’s next car. The kids were gleeful (“We can have BATTLES in the BACK!”) and begged Paul to take them for a ride. My dad had always wanted a truck like that. He would’ve gotten a kick out of seeing my brother drive it.
  8. The kids are finished with school for the year–how anticlimactic is that? It’s unofficially summer and we have no plans and no goals and we’re trying to figure out how to navigate this stretch of time ahead of us. Last year, when we spent most days with Mom, when the kids were asking when we could ever go on vacation, I’d think about this year, this summer, of how we could make it fun and magical and make up, in a way–I know that’s not real or possible or even healthy–for the sadness and weirdness of last summer. My poor mom. She’s been here for so much and has missed out on all of it.
  9. Quinlan turns ten this week. She’s not getting the sleepover she wanted (me: “Social distancing! SIX FEET APART!”), but has asked for noodles and ice cream cake and her own horse and some blue basketball socks, please.
  10. The sun is shining! It’s 9:38 a.m. and humid and warm and the kids want to play with their new enormous water guns later. I have paperwork to go through, and fresh strawberries to eat. Nothing is the same, but everything’s the same.

Happy unofficial start to summer, friends. I miss seeing your faces, and I would much like to go swimming in a large body of salt water again sometime soon. Life is weird and short, but at least there are still red pick-up trucks and glasses of wine and new books to enjoy.

I’ll save you the seat on the front porch.

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