July began with a series of homecomings…and a last send-off.
My nephew, niece and little grandniece arrived from Denver on July 1st. My son, his gal and her mom arrived on July 3rd. This was the weekend when our family was to gather at our cottage on Catawba Island to scatter the ashes of my brother and my father in Lake Erie. In addition to the above, my sister Wendy and her husband, my husband and I, along with our youngest son and his young lady, were on hand to honor our departed loved ones. My other brother and his family were helping Mom come to terms with her bereavement down in Charlotte. They and my eldest sister and her family in faraway France could only be with us in spirit.
Our group met at the lake that Friday, the 3rd of July. We boarded our neighbor and friend, Greg’s boat, with his son (and my Sean’s childhood friend), Tyler, at the stern, to venture out beyond the cliffs of Lake Erie. Greg and his wife, Cindy, have been friends of the family for more than 40 years. Geoff even worked for Greg at one point and they were quite fond of him. Some of Geoff’s favorite memories included the fun times spent at their Catawba Island Yacht Club…especially every Fourth of July.
Which inspired our idea to scatter the ashes in Lake Erie--anchored “out at sea”, but opposite the beautiful Club, preferably on the weekend of the Fourth. Although my Dad’s ashes (WW II Navy Lieutenant and LST captain in the Pacific) had been kept safe for over 20 years, it seemed fitting that father and son be scattered together.
The lake was very choppy that day, but once we anchored, I began reading the beautiful farewell to my father written by our absent sister, Judy, (who composed both poignant tributes), while Wendy scattered his ashes between the waves. Wendy then read Geoff’s farewell, while we added his ashes to the swirling waters. Cindy shared her beautiful prayer before Wendy closed the ceremony with Judy’s final homage. It was so moving. We then rode the rough seas back to our cottages. For those who have never seen them, the Great Lakes, much more like inland seas, offer passage to merchant ships and liners from all over the world, coming and going, from the Atlantic via the St Lawrence River. It was a beautiful and memorable burial of our cherished father and brother. As my sister Judy so eloquently stated, wherever there is a waterway, anywhere in the world, now any one of us can connect with my dad and Geoff.
The rest of the week-end was spent enjoying each other’s company. The highlights were: around-the-clock entertainment provided by my adorable 21-month-old grandniece, fabulous fireworks at our friend’s home in Marblehead, a ferry ride and golf-cart tour of the island of Put-In-Bay, swimming, walking our island, savoring fabulous meals, taking part in animated Yahtzee tournaments and, for some of us, a day at Cedar Point. The weather was perfect and it was a special time that will hold remarkable memories, forever.
Out-of-towners started heading back to Denver, LA, New Jersey, and Cleveland, on Monday the 6th. How we wished our other family members could have been present to make the circle complete!
Our eldest was able to stay on until the following Saturday, and we very much enjoyed having him all to ourselves. But all good things come to an end and he flew back to LA on Saturday to celebrate his sweet, gal’s birthday.
That same night I joined my friend, Abe, and six band members for a concert at Brook Park Homedays (an annual event celebrated in this Cleveland–area city). Friends and family attended and it was a fun night for all.
The following week, Abe and I, along with our favorite sax man, Jim Witherspoon, performed at Crop Kitchen, a fabulous restaurant at Cleveland’s University Circle. Again, family and friends were present, which always adds to the fun. It was a hoppin’ night! The restaurant patio made for a delightful setting, the weather was beautiful…and the crowd was fantastic! Many thanks to all who came out to spend the evening with us!
A week later, my mother, who had been staying with my brother and family in Charlotte for the past two months, getting lots of TLC, fresh air and sunshine, returned to a fully-renovated home. It was quite a surprise in which we all played a part, in ways large and small, with Wendy engineering the big job. The initial idea was to give the house a clean sweep and make it more practical and manageable for a young lady of Mom’s advanced years. But in the process of bringing things up to standard and making the place more practical, it seemed like a good idea to completely redesign certain areas.
The little old kitchen, for example--all dark nooks and crannies with a too-narrow doorway, was treated to a spectacular makeover. Wendy and her team of workers turned it into an open, light-filled place with lots of workspace, easily accessible cupboards, etc. She could even manage a wheelchair in there if ever she needed one. As to the rest of our old family home, to make a long story very short, all the rooms were repainted too and it simply looks and feels great. It took Mom a couple of days to get used to her new digs, but she is thrilled and so are we! She is a happy, healthy (except for a bad knee that slows her down) and sharp-as-a-tack nonagenarian, you know!
Apart from another outdoor gig with Abe, and getting down to the finishing touches for my new CD, I practiced my yoga, played a bit of tennis (I hadn’t picked up a racket since high school!) and we enjoyed a fun dinner with my friend, Silver Medalist Figure Skater Rosalynn Sumners and her lovely husband, in town for a short time. We also savored a scrumptious steak dinner at the home of another pair of old friends in Mentor this month.
But what I am bursting to tell you is that I really am very close to presenting my new CD to you…hopefully, in about a month!!!
In the meantime, may we all enjoy the last days of summer!