I’ve met few folks born on February 29th, but the person who stands out is Howard. Howard was a 4th grade teacher whose classroom was on the other side of the partition from the one in which I co-taught my last year of teaching. I liked him a lot – we talked most days during lunch and after school. Not talk about school or the students we taught, but more about life and our personal philosophies on life, love, music and reading. Last I knew he and his gorgeous wife moved to another country to teach English.
Hope he had a fantastic birthday. He must be — what — all of 9 by now?
I’d heard great things about Andrew’s wrestling coach before Andrew was on the team. Then this summer Andrew received a wonderful & personal letter from him welcoming Andrew to the team. Andrew, Dean and I have all received emails from the coach on various matters, all of which have been delightful to read – both in content and form.
Yesterday the coach proved, once again, what a fine role model he is in an interaction with Andrew after an upsetting loss. I’m not going into details, they are private, but Derek Manon is one heck of a wrestling coach on a number of levels.
Today we’d planned on picking up Dean’s mom and taking a drive in the country. Because Ruth was not feeling well we just visited with her for an hour and then went on the drive ourselves.
Riding with my dad in the car reminds me of when we’d take his mother on drives along the same roads 40 years ago or more. She always told us who’d lived in each of the homes along the way – and was distressed if it looked like a home she’d lived in looked uncared for.
We had a mission – we were delivering flowers to my Grandmother and Grandfather Patrick and to my cousin Jim. Dad thought Jim would like blue flowers. We got Grandma Patrick some white ones. I like the cemetery where they are buried. It is quiet and small. They are surrounded by fellow farmers – some of whom were born in the later part of the 1700’s. I asked dad if he had a cemetery plot. He said he didn’t and didn’t want to talk about it. Funny – he spends a lot of his time talking about the dead. Those who’ve passed recently and those who’ve been gone for decades.
After the cemetery he wanted to drive past the last farm his father owned. The farm he could easily have inherited. He’s obviously somewhat regretful that he chose a different path in life – one that didn’t include farming.
We continued our drive, and then dad thought I’d like to visit mom’s friend Jill and her husband, Gordon. They are quite interesting. He does something technical (writes code for software?) for a living as well as helps Jill raise alpacas. Jill also creates hats and slippers from the alpaca wool. She showed me her creations. I would have bought a hat, but I look awful in hats. Maybe later this summer when we visit again I’ll buy a pair of slippers. Clare might like a hat.
The have A LOT of alpacas. At least 20. And they are beautiful. Two were just recently born – one was born on June 6th of this year. The mother stood next to the baby and chattered to her when we first got there. Cindy said it was because we were strangers. Whatever it was – it was so cool. Makes up for me missing the balloon fest on Saturday.
Dad got tired and I could tell he wanted to go home, so we left. He went to bed and I walked to a nearby restaurant for an Italian Beef sandwich – something I cannot get in Maryland unless I make it myself.
On the way to Paul’s I passed by a cacophony of memories.
The house that once was the huge pile of dirt where I would practice my Hollywood falls.
The house where the woman who sold me the cookbook told me she was living on borrowed time
The house where the mean old man lived who made beautiful Christmas decorations
Stephanie’s house, that once burned nearly to the ground, but the cats were found safely.
Paul’s parking lot, that once was The Red Barn, a fast food chicken restaurant. My dad didn’t like eating there because he swore they served fried pigeon.
On the way back I passed the five homes that were built as affordable housing. They still look like projects, but I noticed that the owners have tried to make them attractive. One house has a beautiful door with beveled diamond-shaped glass panes. Another has mansion style (and sized) pillars on either side of the driveway which leads to a carport.
This lot used to house a huge Victorian mansion. On the side was a mulberry bush that, as kids, we would pick and eat the fruit until we felt sick. That mulberry bush is long gone, but I saw evidence of mulberries on the property. I’ll let myself believe the bushes I know are still there, are distant offspring of the mulberry tree I remember.