Today started as a normal Monday. As I dragged my butt out of bed, the dogs danced, urging me to go directly to their food bowls. Instead, I headed for the coffeemaker. After my requisite two cups, I led the way downstairs for their breakfast. Then, since the weather was gorgeous, I went along outside while they took care of business. I sat down on a step to wait. And that’s where the normal ended.
My mom grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It’s located in the Laurel Highlands of western PA, 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, and was a bustling city in the mid-20th century when the Bethlehem Steel mill provided lots of jobs and kept the local economy humming.
My mom lived in Johnstown her whole life, graduating from Ferndale High School and then Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital’s School of Nursing. She worked for a short time in town, and then decided, as young women tend to do, that she needed a new adventure. So she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It would be hard to overstate the differences between
The drive to my kids’ middle school can be absolutely magical. The road hugs the side of a meandering creek, and depending on the time of year, we see some spectacular wildlife. In spring and summer, we’ve looked down the creek to see five startlingly white Snowy Egrets gathered to fish. We see Great Blue Herons camouflaged in the shallows hunting their breakfast. Perhaps most striking to me are the plain old mallard ducks, still floating in the icy waters all winter long. I see them as I drive by, in my layers of clothes, still shivering though my seat heater is blazing, and I marvel at their ability to float all winter with a soggy bottom.
Right now, late fall, is miraculous for the variety of birds we see as they pass through on their way south. I can’t name any of them, but I enjoy their variety nonetheless. Large geese walking the bank. Tiny black and white bodies bobbing on the water’s surface in impressive numbers.
Last week, I was driving to the school at what was, for me, an unusual time. It was late morning, and I was returning my son, Richie, to classes after
Richie and Jillian were arguing as they walked in the door from school. Jillian was calmly saying something like, “It’s true, Richie…you should believe me.” And Richie was clearly irritated, talking right over her with, “That can’t be. That can’t be!”
I was thrilled the day my baby daughter, Jillian, climbed onto our slightly-raised fireplace hearth for the first time. Enormous brown eyes shining, she smiled brilliantly at my exclamation of surprise and praise. I knew right then, with the absolute certainty only new mothers possess, that she was
Two years ago today, they tore my kitchen apart. It was a remodel three years in the making, one that started with a broken garbage disposal, precipitated not one but two cross-country moves, and began, at last, on the day my mother suffered a catastrophic heart attack.
Not long ago, Richie and I were in a waiting room together for an hour and a half. He was (semi-)watching the movie Brave on his tablet, and I was reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Or I was trying to. Because when Richie has a long stretch of quiet to think, the thoughts that come into his head are varied and humorous and telling. And luckily for me, he seldom sensors them before sharing.