Hang on kids, it could be a long one.
It was a hot one in Seattle today. I know, 89 does not qualify as hot compared to the rest of the country, but for us it’s frickin hot. We are not well equipped here to deal with multiple hot days. A/C is lacking in most places and to be honest, as much as we complain, we love what is our normal weather. Just don’t let that get out.
After the brutal day, much like what this part of the country is known for, we got a wonderful evening. Temps fell and sitting outside became a joy. Clear skies, slight breeze and the smells. Man. Look, I’m being honest here. We have the best smelling air in all of the US. I’m not kidding. When we do go home, part of what I look forward to most is coming back and just smelling the air. It’s clean and crisp, yes, but there is… something else. It’s hard to explain. Most folks that come to visit say something about it, but they never really get it. You live out here for more than a couple of years though, and you can’t live without it.
So any way, I go outside on our “patio” and just sit. Bug light is on, a pale yellow light is cast over the grill and chairs. I sit. I smell. I start to remember. Boy, do I remember.
My family comes from back east, PA and OH to be exact. My parents grew up in a small town in PA called Union City. I have so many fond memories of both families, but for this I’m going to talk about my mom’s parents. Meme and BumBee. Actually, I’m not sure of the spelling, but you get the idea. Story goes I couldn’t say Grandma or Grandpa, so Meme and BumBee were ‘born.’
My grandfather used to take me fishing out to French Creek. He taught me patience, but more importantly, he taught me to love canned fish and baseball. You know what I’m talking about. Sitting by a small stream, line in the water while you listen to baseball on a radio. Get hungry, you open a tin of sardines and life is good.
My grandmother taught me…man. She made me who I am today. Which brings me to the point of this post. I remember sitting on Meme’s back porch on summer nights, bug light lit, playing Rummy. Not only did she teach me how to play the game, she taught me about life. She taught me how to be calm. She taught me what it means to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I was wrong’ and actually mean it. She taught me right from wrong. And she did all of this under a pale yellow light, sweet smell of slightly damp earth wafting in and treating me like an equal, not a goofy little 10 year old kid.
My brother Brian was even closer to her than me. Our dad left the family in August, I went into the Navy in September, and Brian was suddenly left alone with our mom. I love our mom, but that was a lot for him to take. Meme stepped in and gave him the anchor he needed. I’m glad to say it worked, because he’s become a man I am more than proud to call my brother.
So, I’ve come in from the patio. Left the bug light behind. But Meme? I felt you there with me tonight. I felt your unconditional love. I felt your joy that I’ve taken your habit of having toast and coffee for breakfast. I felt your disappointment that I didn’t get you a great-grandkid in time. I felt your pride that I recall your stories of being wooed on horse-drawn carriages. I felt that you understood how much in awe I was of you that you went from horses to bikes to cars to planes to seeing a man on the moon. More than anything though, I was reminded of just how much I miss you, and the wisdom you gave while playing a simple game of cards.