Tag Archives: family

Tidal time

Just back from a quick trip to the Cape and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the speed of life. It was a three-day trip and we packed in a lot of time outdoors, a couple of beaches and bike rides and a few margaritas. There were friends in Provincetown to drink with and the weather was just what I needed – 2 days of sunshine followed by a day of on and off showers mixed with sunshine. There was a tremendous moonrise and hours spent working on a 1000 piece puzzle that I’m still obsessing over from more than 250 miles away. It was delightful.

I’ve been doing this Cape Cod thing for 20 years now and it never gets old. There’s always a new beach or restaurant or shop to visit and a different house to make home. Despite all the new spots to explore, there are traditions to be honored, favorite running routes and swimming spots, dinner joints and ice cream flavors. It’s a wonderful place and, even when things don’t go perfectly, I’m always appreciative of the time spent in this special place. 

38530306-4D8A-4CFF-8359-597BE360EB23-8404-000005C35C37E501                                                                         On this trip, though, I was struck by a thought I couldn’t shake – it seems that I have as many memories of time spent on the Cape as there are grains of sand on the beach. When I revisit places, eat particular foods, smell distinct aromas, hear certain sounds, I feel as if I’m sometimes doing those things with company. Over the years, in addition to my own family, I’ve spent Cape time with dozens of friends and when I see or taste or smell or hear something that reminds me of a previous, similar experience it’s almost like those folks are once again joining me. I hear their voices and laughter over the roar of the ocean and see their smiles through early morning fog and feel so incredibly fortunate to have the memories of so many times spent with people I love, in a place I love. I simply can’t wait to get back there next month with my guys!

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, friends, Observations, road trips, Summer, Uncategorized

The burgermeister

They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, however that hasn’t been my experience. When you don’t meet your first relative (other than your mother and brother) until you’re 22 years-old, having family is very much a choice. With complete honesty, I can say that finding and getting to know my family has been without exception the most personally gratifying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I think that’s why I’m so devastated by the loss of my uncle, the man I’ll always think of as the burgermeister

From the very first time we met, me an undergraduate student and the daughter of one of his oldest sisters kicking around Europe, he, in his midthirties and a father to two young children, he always made me know I was family. There was never an instant that wasn’t apparent in the subsequent years and the times we shared.
Between that initial introduction and his recent death we probably were together on a dozen different occasions. He and his wife visited Albany, we met in NYC on the very day my own cancer was determined to require additional treatment, we traveled together in Europe. Three of my last four trips to Europe involved spending time with him and those are some memories that I’ll take out and shine until they gleam gold.

We stayed in the town where he lived twice in recent years and it was truly wonderful to witness the affection with which he was greeted everywhere we went. It was so obvious that he was a beloved member of his community – from the bakery to the Italian restaurant where he still occasionally worked when they needed a hand, he was met with humor and warmth and I was honored to claim him as my uncle. I always felt safe with him and I’m convinced there was nothing in this world with which he couldn’t contend. Except cancer.

As I was proud of him, he was proud of the life he had created. He had been a competitive athlete representing his country in the biathlon. Since learning that part of his history, I’ve loved cross country skiing even more, like it’s our family’s sport. During our visit in April he shared the medals he had won and his unabating love for winter sports was apparent. His home actually overlooks a ski jump used in international competitions, (which he helped with, of course) and we toured a local museum dedicated to the history of Nordic skiing.

My uncle, the unofficial burgermeister, was a great man and the loss of him, despite the thousands of miles between us, feels almost unbearable. How incredibly lucky was I to have seen him so recently? How kind of the universe to have cooperated by putting so much of my family in one place to celebrate Easter just two months ago. I know the ache in my heart will dull and the tears will dry but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. As the marker on his final resting place states, he was a gift from Heaven.

Hug your dads, uncles, husbands and sons and know how fortunate you are.

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Filed under aging, cancer, Europe, family, Germany, love, Uncategorized, x-country skiing

Are your ducks all in a row?

IMG_2019Have you ever chaperoned a field trip? At this point in my life, I’ve accompanied quite a few bus loads of students to destinations like NYC, Montreal and, as of today, Boston. I take the responsibility pretty seriously and spend an inordinate amount of time counting my charges, hoping to consistently arrive at the same number. Today my magic number was four.

It was a beautiful day for a field trip to Boston. We left before the sun came up knowing we were in for a long day. After contending with typically hideous traffic as we approached the city, we arrived at our first destination, the Museum of Science. I’d never been there before and my small posse was a great group. We had fun exploring the hands on exhibits, checking out the dinosaurs and stumbling upon the lightning storm demonstration as a perfect finale to our visit. On to the next stop – the Duck Tour.

I herded my group, feeling like Mrs. Mallard from Make Way for Ducklings, to our meeting point and we boarded our amphibious vehicle to learn about Boston’s history and get into the river. I checked my email as we sat at yet another red light and gasped at what I read. There had been a very unexpected death in my family. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. The day changed and memories washed over me in waves larger than any we would see on the Charles.

The uncle I lost was the relative, other than my brother, to whom I felt most connected. He was the first member of my German family that I met, years ago when he arrived at the Hauptbanhof to pick me up and bring me into the mountains where my family lived. He was the youngest of my mother’s brothers, closer in age to me than her, and from that very day he was never less than kind, generous and thoughtful to me and, eventually, my own family. Losing him has shocked me into sadness.

I have memories of him holding my babies, walking with us across the Brooklyn Bridge, sharing meals together in a half dozen countries, hosting us in his home…He and his wife had a marriage that never failed to make me smile. Their love for one another was evident and they enjoyed more adventures in their nearly 20 years as husband and wife than many couples will ever know. That’s the consolation, right? To have loved with passion, lived with spirit, taken advantage of the time given?

Our most recent trip together was less than two months ago. My youngest son and I spent nearly 10 days traveling around Germany with my uncle and aunt. We had what I’m convinced was the best Easter I’ll ever have, eating and drinking with five of my mother’s siblings and nearly a dozen cousins. I never imagined that he’d be gone just weeks later. Our last night together was in Berlin. We had dinner and then reconnected later in the night to have our final drink of vacation together in a little bar popular with the theater crowd. It was quiet and, as always, I felt a little sad to know that our time together was coming to a close, until next time, next year.

A day that began with counting my charges became an evening of gathering memories. I’m really going to miss being able to make more of those with him. Ensuring that all of my ducks are in a row may be something that will always require attention and work, but I’ll take some comfort in knowing that my efforts to know and spend time with my family have been the greatest use of my time, money and energy. Rest In Peace, WM.

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Filed under aging, cancer, family, Germany

Mythical beast baby

This kid has flow like a river. Maybe that’s what you get when you give a child a middle name like Hudson. He’s got such a wonderful warmth to him, always generous with the hugs, and people simply like him. It’s charm at its most essential.

In a hundred ways he reminds me of me, but I just keep thinking he has things so much easier, so much better. There’s a security in his life that I never knew at his age. That probably doesn’t matter, though, when you’re a senior in high school and on the verge of what’s next. Cusp is a four-letter word.

Out of all my children, he’s the one I worry about the most, at least these days. They take me on their emotional journeys individually, just like the Mom & Me trips I take with them. There are turns. Fair enough, I suppose.

As a mom, I want my children to live truthful lives. The sooner they learn that being honest and direct works best most of the time, the happier we’ll all be. It’s a milestone just like learning to walk, which Griffin did at 9.5 months. Some things he gets quicker than others, but he’s always loved.

If you see him today, wish him a happy birthday. Then tell him to go home. He’s grounded.

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, family, love, moms, musings, Observations, Spring

I travel to

Eat and drink
Get away
Gain perspective
Be alone
Find myself
See new things
Spend time with family
Experience a different way of life

How about you?

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Filed under Europe, family, Food, musings, Observations, road trips, travel, vacation

Deutschland, 2017

A69B9E6B-9F72-4581-AE2C-814616DEE529-13571-00000AC233BF55C6As our long awaited trip approaches, Quinn and I are both getting excited for our upcoming adventure. I’m kind of impressed with this kid’s pick for his Mom & Me adventure – the Black Forest and Berlin, with a 2 day pit stop in Nuremberg, on my request, to break up the drive.

This will be Quinn’s second trip to Europe, but his first to Germany where he’ll be meeting members of our family. We’re planning a holiday dinner reunion of sorts and I smile each time I imagine my youngest son being introduced to his great aunts and uncles and second cousins. It’s definitely going to be awesome and emotional for everyone.

Our time in the Black Forest will be busy with family, but I’m hoping to get to Freiburg for an afternoon and perhaps even over to Colmar, France for a few hours. I’d like Quinn to see as much as possible, naturally, and the area where my family is from is perfect for crossing over the Rhine and into Alsace, home of some of my favorite wines. It wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a day.

Nuremberg and Berlin will be both be totally new cities to explore. Nuremberg appealed to me because of its rich history and architecture and Quinn will be beside himself to see sites he’s only read about or seen in documentaries. I can’t wait to walk cobblestone streets with half timber buildings on either side and I can almost taste the beer already. Proust!!

I’ve heard so much about Berlin from friends who have visited in recent years. They use words like “cosmopolitan,” “artsy” and “edgy,” which could pretty much describe me, too, right? Seriously, there’s a lively arts scene, terrific nightlife and vivid history all waiting for us to experience. We’ve got what looks to be an ideal Airbandb with plenty of room for all of us (we’ll be with my uncle and aunt) and I’m hoping for good weather and lots of time outdoors. We might even make it to Potsdam to check out a castle, which is kind of funny since I’ve never even been to Potsdam, N.Y.  Maybe if there was a castle, I’d go there, too.

Have you been to these areas in Germany? Any must-sees you’d recommend? Please share any tips or suggestions!

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Filed under beer, Boys, Europe, family, Germany, holidays, Recommendations, travel, vacation

The right things

1F11A1B5-75F8-4D43-8056-96FC5FB61650-23130-00000FC14214CF59The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.

Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.

As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.

Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.

There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.

*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.

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Filed under Boys, family, love, marriage, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized