This weekend found me motoring to Detroit for the kick off of the Joliat wedding season. Two nieces will wed in the next six months, and the first shower drew me East just as Steve returned from Florida. I guess if we can live separately for three months, a day of additional separation is nothing.
Our first adventure was a blowout courtesy of some metal road debris. Judy was driving, and my niece Emma directed us to pull over. The pilot had nerves of steel: I would have rolled into a ditch to be far from traffic. I commandeered a tow truck to save us with the AAA membership that my hub gifts the family for Christmas every year. It was 10:30pm, pitch dark, on a detour route just as 696 closed altogether. I was not about to deal with the tire, despite the fact that my dad made me change a tire before I got my license. That was the stone age, I was sure things had changed. (They had not) We pulled out the piles of reception vases we were hauling, our gifts, our suitcases and waited. Our dispatcher was calming, and he gave us a 90 minute window. The tow truck came on the scene in ten minutes. The spare was good, I used my phone as a flashlight (really, no spot or flashlight, Mr. tow truck driver?) and we were off. Jenny awaited us in Birmingham, Michigan. Bailey’s and cream was called for. Make mine a double. Then bed.
They say you can’t go home, and that is a lie. I love going home, swimming in memories of my childhood. I miss being enmeshed with my siblings. I will never live in the Detroit area again, but I will always feel connected to- and formatted by my time in Royal Oak. I kept pointing out places to Emma: the car wash Mom went to every Friday after her hair appointment, the school I taught at, the Taco Bell where Steve and I would buy beans and 17cent tacos when we were broke. The field we played baseball on, the firehouse I delivered my brother’s news route to, the barber shop where Mom convinced me Chet could cut me a gorgeous pixie cut. (Chet’s Hack-o-rama was what we called the place…even my Dad would not go there) Emma was not particularly impressed by the Tour of Janet World. She did perk up when I told her that her Mom ditched grade school and took a bus to Northwood Shopping Center so she could have french fries and a Coke at Woolworth’s. Judy may have wanted the cone of silence on that one.
My youngest sister lives in my childhood home, and she is in the process of redecorating the living room that we were never allowed to be in unless Dad had a fresh reel of home movies, or Ed Sullivan had an epic guest. In those cases Dad put up the foldaway screen, or rolled the TV down the hall from the den. Mom made fudge. Other than those rare evenings, the living room was an Early American museum, available to adults or upon holidays. Mom was saving it for God knows what, since no adult in his right mind would want to drop in on a family of six kids. We did have the rare Fuller Brush salesman displaying his wares on the good sofa…but really, who keeps a room unused for a backdrop for house cleaning supplies?
Marie followed Mom’s habit of using only the den, but now she will de-formalize her space to accommodate the broadening of her family via marriage. The prospective son in law is an athlete; his athlete’s body will push the den beyond cozy to claustrophobic. We spitballed floorplans and media placement and laughed at our inability to conjure up a casual furniture arrangement for the Forbidden Space. Mom programmed us to view the living room as sacred. Marie is on her own.
The two days there was a clot of visiting, shopping, eating, celebrating, tire replacing, blabbing and meeting new babies.(Welcome great niece Violet, 6 weeks, and great nephew, Brody 3 weeks ) Sleep was an interruption, and only available in 5 hour clumps. Sunday came too soon, and I surprised my family and my self by observing Good Friday abstinence and attending Easter Sunday services. Monsignor John Zenz said a lovely Mass at Holy Name. He read the Gospel where Peter and the disciples run to the tomb to find Jesus gone. They ran home, to be embraced and comforted by their families. Then their lives resumed. They could not stand still. Via the “running” imagery, he recalled the devastation in Boston last year, and the determination of the runners and supporters to go forward. ( “They said life would never be the same, and yet, tomorrow almost 40,000 will run on Patriot’s Day. Life goes forward. We join it.”)
He reminded the congregation that daily life throws tremendous obstacles at almost every person, and there is nobility in pushing to finish the marathon. He specializes in crises, of course. He mentioned ill people he had anointed at nursing homes, a funeral Mass for a young man with muscular dystrophy which featured a procession by Paralympic friends, and a catechism class he observed for the residents of Angels’ Place, a group home for special needs men. ( My cousin lives there) All in a week’s work. He draws strength and comfort from community, and shares it with this warm and welcoming parish. They are there for each other.
I miss being connected to a faith community; I miss my family. I can work harder on both platforms.
I felt communal rebar this weekend with my siblings, and I felt it in that church. This comforted me, because life keeps moving on, and it rarely gets easier along the way. I have had the blessing of parents who were there to lift me, and keep me on the path. I am close to all my brothers and sisters. My husband has propped me up when my parents died, and has steered me through hard times. My kids are a great third act, complete with grandkids to carry on when I am gone. I have great company on my marathon, girlfriends who are co-experiencing both joys and cruelties of life, and who guide and console.
This weekend brought me so many moments, so many memories.
And at least one resolution.
From now on, Mabel and Milly are welcome in the living room.
They are at least at the Fuller Brush Man level.
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Tags: AAA road service, Angel's Place, Birmingham, Boston Marathon, Easter gospel, Easter lesson, flat tires on the highway, Fuller Brush Men, Holy Name, janet dahl, Kruse and Muer, MI, Monsignor John Zenz, Royak Oak, Steve Dahl, Taco Bell, Woodward House