19 Years

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I posted this last year and the year before at this time. I’m re-posting it. I will always repost it every year at this time…   I know what today is. I know what it means to our country. I remember every detail of 2001 in vivid detail…but since before 2001, this date has been difficult for me, for my family…in 1996 my family’s core was lost, the heart of us…my grandfather…so my post on 9/11 is for him. Oh, and at surface glance I hate this picture of me, but then I see the pure joy on my face dancing with my grandfather and aesthetics be damned, it’s my favorite picture.  It was his birthday. I was about four years old, and a very short kid…and he was TALL. I remember standing by as he put our coats in the closet. I leaned my head way back to stare up, up, up at him and asked, “How tall are you?” With his sparkling eyes and laugh he informed me that he was over 6′. My eyes grew wide, and all I could say was, “But you’re so close to the ceiling! If you have ANY more birthdays you’ll go right through!” His chair sat by the front door and the minute he sat the race was on – who would get the privilege of sitting on his lap, carrying on as deep a conversation as a child was capable of? Who would get to play with his round pot belly, and listen to his laughter? He worked for GM and he was proud of it, and so were we. When I close my eyes I can still smell his pipe and see the pipe carousel on his dresser. I can smell the cigarettes that he and grandma smoked. I remember that after he retired he would watch soap operas during lunch. And I remember the weddings – when my cousin and I would trade off and share him for the dance. “Grandpa” by the Judds. I remember his smile. I remember his belly. I remember the strength that he always carried in his soul and body. I remember the pain that shot through my heart at the word…”cancer”. Once it was uttered it was less than a year. 10 months. I remember the first time I saw him in the hospital-and how I had to run from the room because it made me physically ill to see my big strong grandfather lying in a bed weak and hooked up to tubes. I remember his fight. I remember when it was acknowledged in our hearts that the time to fight was over. I remember how he held on – hours past when we thought we would lose him – because he would not let go until he’d gotten to hear the good-bye of all of his grandchildren, and my brother had been in surgery for a shattered wrist around the world in Japan. Half an hour after the final phone call, Grampa was gone. I remember the sound of the tennis balls scattering across the hallway when my professor’s assistant walked up asking if she knew where I was…and all I could do was run to my car to get home as soon as I could. From there it’s a blur…a long car ride from NC to NY. The arrangements. The funeral home. The droves of people I didn’t know, but who all knew him, overflowing the room. The pain has lessened, resorted to a memory. For the most part I remember the love, the good things, the joy. But on this day every year the pain comes back to the forefront. The pain seems so much stronger now that Grandma has gone to join him. Refreshed and renewed now, they are together forever, but they will always be here in our hearts. We love you still, and will always love you, Grampa. Read more »

The Hummingbird

This hummingbird glass sculpture was purchased to be my cake-topper at my wedding to match the light hints of hummingbird throughout my wedding (like the hummingbirds mom embroidered on my dress).  Less than a year after the wedding my cat skidded across my dresser, knocked it to the ground and shattered it. I refuse to throw it away. It sits there, sealed in a plastic bag, for eternity. The symbol of the hummingbird means too much to give up. I dream of finding someone to fix this cake-topper, even though I know it’s not possible. *~* My grandparents used to take an annual trip to see my Grampa’s brother. They’d go out to Massachusetts and spend time with family, and then return home to Buffalo. One of their favorite parts of the trip was sitting outside and watching the hummingbirds buzz around. Then, my great-uncle passed away, and my grandparents went out for the funeral. On their last night there, in the cool evening air they spoke of my uncle. As he sat there talking, a hummingbird flew up near my Grampa’s shoulder and hovered. It lingered near his face for several minutes, flitting back and forth before flying off. They all decided that had been my great-uncle stopping by for one last visit. Almost nineteen years ago, after a year’s fight against cancer, my Grampa passed away. It was September in Buffalo.  Cold air had begun to move in. All summer things were fading.  I returned to New York with the funeral, and then went right back to NC to return to school. Three weeks later the family grapevine lit up with the story. At the end of September, Gramma was out on her porch to bring in all the chairs, etc. for winter. It was a yearly ritual when it just became too cold to sit on the porch. Since it was sunny, she decided to sit outside for one last afternoon. Wrapped in her sweater she sat, watching the cars go by as she always did. There. In the cold end of September. Hovering near a hanging plant. Buzzed a hummingbird. It flew under the porch roof. Hovered near Grandma. And then took off. * Every September for the past sixteen years. Even if I have not seen one all year. A hummingbird shows up. Every year. *~* I won’t let go of the cake topper. The hummingbird is still in one piece. And Grampa still visits. Read more »

by Sarah Cass

Multi-published author. Mom of 3 special needs kids. Wife to 1 good man.
Redefining Perfect every day.

Becoming My Father

Growing up, I always knew I’d become my mom. It ran in the family, after all. She was turning into Grandma, and I favored her over my dad, so it stood to reason I’d turn into her. I never expected to become my dad. My family had a tendency toward vacations that were road trips. My dad has a bit of a nomadic side to him, so I think those road trips really helped ease that need to go, go, go. My dad was also a control freak. I remember half-teasing that he had a tendency to plan our vacations down to the minute. Trips to Disney. To California. Hockey tournaments. Busch Gardens. The Henry Ford Museum. Everything was thoroughly researched and plans made that we weren’t allowed to deviate from. It was intense vacationing. I swore I’d never do that. And I haven’t… Exactly… When the word came down that Denver’s original wish was going to be a no-go, I knew what that meant. A return to Disney World (his backup wish). This time we’d have the experience of last year (and the handful of missteps we made, rides we missed, etc.) to guide us… Which meant planning was going to happen. Turns out the teen is as much my dad, if not more, than I am. We’ve gathered books (these are just two of the 6 we have), watched every single Disney special on TV we could find, and I got the free Disney vacation DVD. We’ve written down what we missed that we want to see, and things we saw we want to do again. Denver has even located a map w/ approximate walking times between attractions (seriously). I’ve made meal reservations (we sort of flubbed this last time), and Denver’s plans are revolving around those times and the parks we’ve mutually agreed we want to visit each of our three days. Since he’s been gone most of the summer we haven’t gotten down to nitty gritty, and I’m still insisting on complete flexibility (not minute-by-minute) in our planning because things happen, and my dad is ill, and my mom has a horrific back (they are going w/ did I mention that?)–so flexibility is key…but we are going in with some plans this year. It’s oddly soothing. Just don’t tell my dad I said that. Read more »