Time for me to Fly


Patio parade: from kayaks to yachts. Many with soundtracks.

My sabbatical is coming to a close. It’s time to leave my boat parade and return to the home- front.

I have stayed away from blogging because I just wanted to be in my moments here: to think about where life has taken me,  where it is pointing. I marinated in the former, and am just as foggy on the latter.

My mom and dad bought their unit in 1977.  I dragged Steve here in 1978 and I have swooped back every year since. Visits are like pins in my life’s map. My time here is special, so I file the memories in a special place. In the time since I first hit the un-hip beaches here, I have evolved from a somewhat willful daughter to a wife, mom, grand mom.  I became a better daughter and immersed myself in parenting. Grew older. Not wiser, but quieter.


A new generation of babies dining on the forgiving surface of the porch. Mom and Dad would love it.

My life.

The years are stacked like the pages of a flip book; they make a stop action movie.  It’s not an action thriller, a mystery or a romance.  Just a little story, the ending still percolating. Only one take per scene. Locations: Detroit, Chicago, Pompano. I doubt if it will garner much attention: it’s like a Facebook movie.  It accurately reflects the scope of my life.

Pompano will be the sunny scenes. These are clips in my mini-opus:

Roman of Teenage Radiation reads me my bar results as I sit on the Pompano Pier with a 1 year old Pat Dahl.  He was terrified by the pelicans, I was wondering how to squeeze in another baby before I started to practice law. (Ha, and Ha!)

My parents getting to know their grandkids.  Taking them to Butterfly World, swap meets, TGI Friday’s and the Ocean.

Me getting to re-know my parents so they could wipe away the arrogance of my youth and the confrontational nature of my teenaged years.

The enthusiasm that the residents had for a visit by my baby sitter who wore a crochet bikini. (pre cialis)

The lack of enthusiasm the residents had for our purchase, since we owned the first children EVER. (we won them over)

The reverence for rules of parking spots, assigned laundry time and adult swim. (without compliance, chaos)

The tales of Steve and his cohorts taking over my parents’ unit and having a weekend so lost that they swam in the adjacent  pool despite the wall of shrubs. Repeatedly.

Steve driving into the corner of the building in Dad’s Buick with Jack Daniels as a Co-Pilot. Our resident fixer had it repaired before Steve recovered. God rest his soul.

Years of Spring Breaks with the kids. Steve’s furtive drinking, a first holiday without drinking. Progress.

Chasing geckos who dared to breach the condo with washcloths and vacuums. (while screaming)

Sober Steve’s well oiled Christmas getaway after my Mom’s death, with all gifts mailed down. Lights on a fake palm tree.

My extended vacation to help Dad cope with Mom’s absence, and his revelation that he would be bringing a lady friend down. (3 months, the man was a bounder) My immediate return to Chicago.

Millennium New Year’s Eve with the kids and their friends. Time spent with Steve, alone.

The kids sharing a week with us, Mary and Henry delighting us daily. DSCN1551

And of course, the last years with pops, made rich as he mellowed and I learned to engage only on essential issues. There are few essential issues between a loving father and daughter.This week marks 5 years since our last hug.

It was the first time he did not walk me out. I knew I would never see him again.

It was the first time he did not walk me out. I knew I would never see him again.

I wasn’t thinking of this landmark when I pitched a family vacation. Matt was unable to bring his new baby. But I wrangled Mike and Pat’s families into submission. We’re up, they were downstairs, stacked like pancakes.

They stayed in Dad’s space, using his towels, dishes, furniture.  The wall of mirrors and sliding doors had the same tattoo of sticky fingers that my kids left.  The place is dated; still, we cannot bring ourselves to tinker with it. It’s the last  creation of Tom and Elaine, well preserved.  No one can tip the first domino. Yet.

But life goes on, and Mom’s pink and sea foam blue world will someday morph into something beachy. There are subtle first steps: the Queen bed is now a king. Tile in the kitchen. Someday someone will take Dad’s repair graph off the furnace.  No one will EVER take Mom’s Laundry and Papers label off the juice glass holding quarters. I did peel the church bulletin from St. Gabriel’s from the inside of the cupboard. Mass times have changed. We do too. Bit by bit.

5 years ago last Sunday I went to Mass with Dad.  He would not let me drive the block, and he could not walk.  Legs tight.  We went early so he could park close. He rolled over the concrete bumper just a little.  Took 5 minutes to get to the closest seat.  Sat behind a woman who did not remove her Bluetooth, giving Dad a chance to make a “God calling” joke that was not funny. He took Communion. No wine. (the population here is fragile.) Laughed at Father Tony’s closing joke, and off we went.  I left, entrusted him to Steve and my sister Marie. He didn’t have the steam for his engine. Hospital on Monday, gone Wednesday. Missed the long gospels at the end of the Easter Season. Had his own Resurrection. Great exit strategy. Allelulia.

SO.. last Sunday I went to St. Gabriel’s with Mike, Kathryn and baby Mary. It was hard. I cried. But now I have another memory on my spindle, not replacing the Dad Mass, but augmenting it. I was ready to assail any crabby looks from my elders, since Mary is a bundle of chat without volume controls.

No one glared or sighed. They reached out their tanned hands to wish her peace and gave crinkled smiles.  Retrieved her dinosaurs. She called all gray haired men Nono (grandpa).  We got out before her charm and their rapture faded.

It was a grand escape.

I’m ready to return to a chillier reality.

Refreshed.  Looking back, facing forward.  Grateful for both.DSCN1695

I leave Steve to enjoy a scrap of peace before he rejoins our boarding house. I know he will miss us.   Three more weeks of beach walking and Blue Bell.

Then: Chicago scenes.

Join me when I am less verbose. I am just having a sentimental journey today, thank you for sharing. Sometimes I am curt and pithy. Well, no, I’m not.  But come back. I can nudge you if you subscribe. 

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