Where has the summer gone? Wondering why my posts have been so few & far between?
This has definitely been The Amazing Summer of Road Trips and House Guests. Sandwiched in between going to work.
Since June we've clocked in 21 days on the road visiting friends and family in New York City, DC and Cincinnati--and of course, celebrating the birth of our first grandson.
Followed by 13 days of hosting New York City, DC, Cincinnati & Florida family.
Winding it all up with a 9 day road trip to Kiawah Island, SC.
Fourth of July in DC
A Few of Our Summer Visitors
Exploring Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The V-Spot in Park Slope Brooklyn
Summer in Brooklyn
Cincy Weekend with My Sis & B-I-L
My B-I-L's Mom Sylvia at 94. She's Amazing!
A week ago my husband and I took off for Kiawah Island, South Carolina. It was the perfect ending to the summer.
If you want to reset your brain--de-stress--Kiawah is the place! It's nothing but sunshine and miles of pristine uncrowded beaches and bike paths--jumping waves, boogie boarding, bike hikes, beach walks, books and board games. No night life. Plan on doing most of your own cooking.
It's the antidote to a go-go-got-to-see-it-all-and-do-it-all vacation.
Two days before we took off for Kiawah my neighbor Laurie left a copy of Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place in my mailbox with a note:
"I hope you haven't left on vacation yet. Enjoy!"
I devoured it in one delicious gulp. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed & was uplifted by a book as much as this one. No doubt about it--the uninterrupted time on the beach certainly helped.
So, I'm now an official Kelly Corrigan fan. This is the true story of a thirty-something mom-wife-daughter-sister-girlfriend with a gift for giving an unashamed honest voice to her life--with all her insecurities, flaws, whinings, jealousies, disappointments, slip-ups, joys, and triumphs. She's smart, caring, knows how to party, and is the kind of person you'd want to hang out with when life takes a turn for the worse.
Just when her life was cruising along with 2 adorable daughters and an adoring husband--oops--out-of-the-blue she finds a lump in her breast--and it's stage three. And then her dad's cancer recurs with a vengeance.
Make no mistake. This isn't the usual cancer survival story. It's so much more. But I'll let you discover that for yourself.
But here's my question. How did I happen to miss even hearing about this book before it landed in my mail box two weeks ago?
And one more thing. I fell for this book on page 3 of the prologue, when Kelly describes her Dad. If I had it in my power to choose how I operated in the world--I'd choose to look at it like George Corrigan!
"I think people like him because his default setting is open delight. He's prepared to be wowed--by your humor, your smarts, your white smile, even your handshake--guaranteed, something you do is going to thrill him. Something is going to make him shake his head afterward, in disbelief, and say to me, "Lovey, what a guy!" or "Lovey, isn't she terrific?" People walk away from him feeling like they're on their game, even if they suspect that he put them there."
Kelly wrote the following essay when she turned 40. I'm somewhere in the "middle place" age-wise, between Kelly & her mom--the subjects of this essay. But age doesn't matter a bit here. I know you'll "get" exactly what Kelly is talking about in this reprint of her "post-book" essay. Now, you have a choice here. Watch Kelly tell her story--or read her words--or both.
Transcending: Words on Women and Strength by Kelly Corrigan Click here to see the video
"I turned 40 a few weeks ago. I tried (twice) to make a toast about friendship but both times, I blew it. I wanted to say something about my mom and her friends, who call themselves “The Pigeons.”
There were once at least a dozen “Pigeons” (I believe the name was a self-effacing twist on Hens) but in the past few years, they lost two of the greats, Robin Burch and Mary Maroney, to cancer. On the pigeons go, though, like women do, limping one minute, carrying someone the next. They started in the 60s, in suburban Philadelphia, with bridge and tennis and chardonnay (ok, vodka) and, over time, became something like a dedicated fleet, armed ships sailing together, weather be damned.
For me and women of my generation, it started with playdates, cutting carbs and meeting on Monday mornings in workout clothes to do awkward moves with large colorful balls. And I can see exactly where it’s heading.
We’ll water each other’s plants, pick up each other’s mail, take each other’s Christmas card photos. We’ll confer about jog bras and contractors and pediatricians. We’ll gossip about babysitters, teachers, neighbors, in-laws. We’ll speculate about who had a shot of Botox, who cheats on their taxes, who cleans until midnight. We’ll implore each other to read this book or see this movie or listen to this song. We’ll persuade each other to bake, sell, recruit, fold, stuff, paint, clean and write checks for our favorite non-profits.
We’ll celebrate each other’s achievements –opening an exercise studio, a corner store, a jewelry business. We’ll celebrate our kids’ achievements – making the traveling team, singing in the choir, learning to use the potty or speak French or play the flute. We’ll borrow eggs, earrings, extra chairs, galvanized tubs for a barbeque. We’ll throw birthday parties for each other and stain the rugs and shatter the wine glasses and mark up new counters with the odd slice of lemon. We’ll worry about who seems down, who looks tired, whose drinking more and more. We’ll say things we wished we hadn’t and have to find a way to regain each other’s trust. Things will break, they always do. Many will be fixed.
We’ll fret over our children—too shy, too loud, too angry, too needy. We’ll brainstorm ways to help them become more resilient, patient, forgiving, light-hearted. We’ll protect them—fiercely—pulling little bodies from the deep end, double-latching windows, withholding car keys.
We’ll bury our mothers and our fathers—shuttling our children off for sleepovers, jumping on red eyes, telling each other stories that hurt to hear about gasping, agonal breaths, hospice nurses, scars and bruises and scabs and how skin papers shortly after a person passes. We will nod in agreement that it is as much an honor to witness a person come into the world as it is to watch a person leave it.
People will drift in and out. Book clubs will swell and thin. We’ll write someone off and they’ll reemerge later and we’ll remember both why we loved them and why we let them slip away but we’ll be softer and we’ll want them back, for nostalgia will get stronger.
We’ll admire each other for a fine crème brule, a promotion, a
degree, a finished marathon. We’ll commiserate about commutes, layoffs,
mortgage rates, bosses, unappreciated toys.
We’ll confide in each other
about feeling anxious or angry or uninteresting or uninspired or how
many pieces of Halloween candy we accidentally ate from our kids’ bags.
We’ll confess that our husbands don’t really listen to us or that we should be having more sex or that we yell at our kids every day. We’ll admit that we believe in God, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Hell, or that we don’t.
We’ll give up things together—caffeine, catalogs, Costco, social smoking. We’ll take up things too—morning walks, green tea, organic dairy, saying grace.
We’ll throw potlucks and take each other to lunch and give each other frames and soaps and bracelets. We’ll check each other’s heads for lice and examine new bumps and moles and listen to lists of symptoms. We’ll diagnose each other’s brown lawns, torn muscles, basement odors. We’ll teach each other how to set a ring tone, make a slide show, download a movie.
We will call and say “I heard the news” and whatever the news is, we will come running, probably with food. We’ll insist on taking the kids, finding second opinions, lots of rest and the best surgeon. We will face diseases, many kinds, and will—temporarily—lose our hair, our figures and our minds.
Eventually, someone whose not supposed to die will, maybe one of us, maybe a husband, God forbid a child, and all this celebrating and sharing and confessing will make certain essential comforts possible. We’ll rally around and hold each other up and it won’t be nearly enough but it will help the time pass just a hair faster than it would have otherwise. We will wait patiently and lovingly for that first laugh after the loss. When it comes, and it will come, we will cry as we howl as we clutch as we circle. We will transcend, ladies. Because we did all this, in that worst moment, we will transcend.
Anyway, that’s what I wanted to say."
Ditto!! We get by with a little (OK-a lot) help from our friends (and family, most definitely) Thanks for a wonderful summer and the help in the kitchen, artistically arranging my "party table", the flower arrangements, the "Classic Cookies", the shoulders to lean on, the listening ears, the understanding, the hospitality, the amazingly delicious vegan meals, the schlepping me around NY, the tours of Brooklyn, Wave Hill, DC, Cincinnati and gorgeous gardens, making caramelized onion pizza, going to see "Away We Go" when you'd rather not, foot rubs, playing "SingStar", washing dishes, the belly laughs, and just plain showing up. I love you all!