Coming Home


It is here.  The day it happened.  My stroke one year ago today.  The time is still looming as it happened in the late afternoon.  It is a day I will never forget, but I am home with my family.

Today we are continuing our garage sale, purging things we have collected and saved that may be of value or use to someone else.

The boys were into it Friday and Saturday, today we are all somewhat over it.  We still get excited when a car pulls up and we make a sale.  We were at eight dollars, now ten, after the woman with her dog came to our door this morning while we were watching CBS Sunday Morning.

This episode had many stories, but the one about the Japanese flags hit home.  The son who looked at his father’s WWII footlocker in the basement, not able to play in it and later not able to return the flags per his father’s haunted memories of war still making his decisions.

He then met a man in his father’s infantry who spoke of forgiveness and letting go of hate. He became educated about the flags and how the writing on them was from loved ones to their soldiers headed to battle for protection.

He returned a flag to an older daughter and son who had not met their father and here it was with blood stains, their father’s flag.  He came home after all.

That is what Memorial Day weekend is about. Coming home and being with your family.  It can be ceremonial and it can be a humble garage sale both honor heirlooms and the stories associated with them.  The items are shared, honored, and returned or passed along to those who feel they mean something and should be kept.

The items bring family and strangers together in a communal exchange that goes beyond the object’s external value, down to the perceived value of the new owner.  The story shared is transferred along with the title of it and the history lives on.  It really is Memorial Day weekend when memories of the people and their personal items we value are shared, returned or passed on.

To a writer it’s their words. To these two servicemen the flags meant two very different things and to these two children this particular flag of their father’s meant everything.  He was now home with his family.

Thank you to all that serve our country today and everyday for giving more than any of us will ever really understand.  I hope you all come home very soon.




Booked Chateau de Divonne

de Div

Chateau de Divonne

This afternoon included sitting on the deck lakeside with the sound of boat motors and the occasional leaf blower in the distance as camps come to life on the lake.  The leaves are almost full and blowing gently creating a soft warm breeze and beautiful light green color of fullness around the back of the deck after a light rain morning.

My rock garden has a canopy that developed while we were away in Baltimore for my nephew’s graduation.  My father’s chair and my wind chime are now part of the scenery not standing out as they had been before we left.

The sun, now hot and brightly shining on my deck chair invites me to sit as the occasional car passes by.  I let myself settle into my lounge chair to take it all in while sipping my signature unsweetened ice tea with lemon.  We are home.

Baltimore is behind us and Geneva is in front of us.  Who could have ever imagined, certainly not me.  My nephew spent the last year in Italy studying while I was sick. I am recovering and he is now off to Geneva for the summer for an internship.  When we were together for Mother’s Day I blurted out,“I’m going.”  My family looked in shock; it was my mother who finally said, “You should go.”

That’s all I needed to put it on my radar.  Step one:  passports, which I have in progress.  Step two:  where to stay and that had me puzzled.  I did hours of research and came across Chateau de Divonne and felt a connection.

-9 miles from the airport

-They pick you up

-A pool

-Fabulous food

-A shuttle to the village

It is beautiful and reminded me of my experience in Europe over twenty-five years ago when I was in college.  I booked it and then panicked “What have I done, what am I thinking” and worried about it, looking for a sign it was the right thing to do while awaiting the passports.

Then the email came from the Chateau yesterday.  They granted permission to me to feature them on my blog and were gracious with their reply.  It was wonderful to receive and exciting to know I made the right choice of where to stay.

CBS Sunday Morning, once again came through with stories about Newport and Dior’s chateau in France along with Joanna Gaines getting recognized from her blog among other things.  Once again, signs to me that it’s ok to want more and pursue bigger dreams to show my son that when opportunities come you take them without fear.  You just need to make a plan to get there once you make a decision on where you are going.  It’s not always obvious and you need to look for signs along the way, but stay persistent and resilient.  Over, Under and Through that’s how we do!



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Today at the office, my office being my side deck that includes a can of paint, deck painting in slow progress, and my shell laden workbench.  I noticed the leaves pushing their way open to feel the sun.  I first saw them this morning and wanted to take a picture for social media, scrapping the idea to enjoy the moment.   Later, that day I saw a post capturing that same moment and thought “if it wasn’t  for the internet I would not know that someone else had that same thought”.  I am sure many of us did today as it has been raining and cold for the past few days in the Adirondacks.

The social media cliff I have recently jumped off, with the start of a blog, has led me to think about the first generation to grow up solely on social media.  I caught a piece by Anderson Cooper earlier this week about tweens. One of the points he made was that parents need to embrace social media in order to understand what they are going through and its lure.

It has been on my mind as my son is a tween.  The book I chose off my father’s desk today was Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media by Susan J. Douglas, circa 1994.  It hit the nail on the head discussing the idea how tweens are fighting to grow up as fast as those leaves want to bloom out of the branch and get to swaying.  I watched the leaves as they contended with the breeze today and the pretty birds that weighed them down from time to time with the branch supporting them.

The branches connect to one another for support and continue to split off from each other.  The trunk stays stoic like my dad’s chair in the sacred rock garden burial site for our two beloved cats and hamster which leads up to a tree tagged with my son’s initials painted in bold letters.  He spray painted them in white. His first, middle and last initial one on top of the other, about a foot tall each.  He was supposed to be painting a school project and I had only walked away from the project for a short time.  Hellfire had erupted on my sacred garden with my father watching.

When I walked out onto the deck and saw it; I was horrified, upset and disappointed in his poor judgment.  It was done and I expressed my displeasure and we later purchased camouflage paint as a remedy.  The paint, purchased three years ago, never made it on the tree and today I noticed it has faded by nature’s healing powers.  It blends in now and if you did not know it was there you would never know.  We know, my dad knows.  He saw the whole thing from his chair, a ringside seat if you will.  He really has all he can do to keep track of the frat boy chipmunk who has taken up residency at the base of the tree.  “Chippy” as we call him, just ran by as I was typing, too funny.

The tree reminded me that #Thistoshallpass, as it forgave him over time, so why can’t I.  The leaves continue to push and expand to find their place on the branch, supported by all the branches that connect them to the trunk, rooted in the ground.   My son will do the same as he continues to find his own identity with his foundation intact.  We all will be there when the wind blows and he is taken by a pretty bird.

Mother Returns


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My mom comes home today.  She is on her first plane right now.  My “to do list” today includes picking her up at the airport with my son along, to carry things.  He is the man of our house, at only fourteen.  He is the only male in the house and has grown into that role as the years have gone by.  My mother lived with us prior to divorce.  We now live with her after divorce, on the same lake, thanks to her.

She became a widow when I was twenty and I returned home to be with her after college.  I was living in Los Angeles working after graduation in television.   It was an exciting time in my life and all the while home called me to come back and when the Northridge Earthquake hit I heeded the call.

I never regretted the decision and being with my mom and my family made it worth it.  When I got sick this past year, really sick, I was worried what would happen to her.  She did not deserve to lose me after giving up her life to be our mother and then losing her husband to suicide, no one deserves that.  She carried on through all of it, with her Chico’s outfits and lifelong friendships.  Our mother is one of the most loyal people I know.  She commits to something and does not falter.

She has a schedule that revolves around her community weight loss group that meets on Tuesday nights and travels to conferences.  It is super cute and consumes most of her topics of conversation.  What she is bringing to a meeting or where they are traveling.  She goes with her lifelong friend and winter traveling buddy.

My son and I crack up as they go out to eat each Tuesday after their weight loss meeting.  She brings him home leftovers and supplies from town (toilet paper being the important one).  She shares the night’s stories of what is happening over in town.  She is not a gossip, just a concerned fellow member.  She always sees the best in people and is happy for their good news.  She tells the bad, only to inform, not to belittle anyone.

When she travels for the winter I do not speak to her that often.  I consider it her break from us and our busy lives.  My goal is for her to separate and have her own space for those months, especially this year, after what I put her through.  Our running joke at the house is to keep ourselves in toilet paper while she is gone, as each year we run out at least once, without her Tuesday supply runs to town.

Her friend left early this year from Sanibel so I called her more as the time to come home approached and woke up several times tonight thinking about her coming home.  I usually drive her car back and last year we drove together.  We had a ball and she complained the entire way reading a draft of my book through the Blue Ridge Mountains as we left Charleston toward Virginia.  It was another “Chris” adventure that she went along for the ride.  I would have my stroke a few weeks later.

I am happy she will be home with me able to take care of her, not her take care of me.  Mother’s day is approaching and reading post about folks missing their mom I am excited to get her back.

When I told her about the blog she said, “Chris, do not include me.”  How could I not, when she herself had dreams of being a writer.  She never expressed them to me or acknowledged it when I asked her about the Readers Digest submissions I found in a box in my parents closet years ago.

I tell my students about that box as they need to look at their parents as people who had dreams not always realized.  They may have moved them aside to take care of their family and did other work to provide for them.  My point to them is to take the opportunities to grow in life when they present themselves without the fear of the future, as no future is guaranteed, but one is created by commitment.

When my mom flew home to visit me in December I could not drive.  When she saw me in Sanibel a few weeks ago I was better, but tired, still not able to drive.  I am happy today to pick her up and realize the stroke that started it all was a year ago this May.  She deserves to be the one taken care of now.  I am happy she is coming home and ready for “Nan,” as we call her to recant her winter travel stories as we prepare to head to Baltimore for the graduation of her oldest grandson.  Travel season extends this year with all of us included.

She has a tattered straw cowboy style beach hat that her friend said needs to go.  My mother in her style told us all the places it had traveled with her including: Brazil, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Greece etc. and the family stories that accompanied each place.  We purchased her a new one for Mother’s Day, but once again she displayed her commitment and love for family, places and special things.  She will always be included and needs to get home.  We are out of toilet paper as of this morning, perfect timing Nan.