Who's your papa?  

Mine travels the world, takes pictures, and writes books.  He likes to sail.  When I was older than my son is now, but not quite my daughter's age, we capsized a Sunfish.  A Sunfish is a small, personal sailboat.  I remember being under the boat, the sounds of chaos dulled by the rush of water.  It was probably only a few moments that I was under, but it felt longer.  My father's strong arm pulled me up, and he was smiling.  "We are a couple of crazy kids, aren't we?"

When I was in high school, we used to take out the Catalina 320 and listen to Buena Vista Social Club CDs.  I got really sick one time, out on Lake Michigan.  I pretended to be fine, because I didn't want to tell my dad I had motion sickness.  I loved being on the boat.

His mom, my grandma, came from northern Michigan.  She was valedictorian of her senior class, of which there were ten students.  


Tangible pieces of history excite me.  I like to visit original forts and outposts, examine authentic documents, stand in the places where famous events occurred.  I like to pore over old photos at my mom's house or pester my older relatives to tell me stories of their pasts.  These acts give me the illusion of holding time, of preserving something precious.  Since my diagnosis, the urge to preserve and memorialize has increased tenfold.


Today I dragged my family on an exploration of Walloon Lake.  I was determined to track down some of the Hemingway landmarks in the area.  I have already been to the Hemingway houses in Key West and Oak Park.  The northern Michigan Hemingway landmarks hold special significance to me not only because of the era during which he was there (and the corresponding short stories he wrote based upon these locations), but also because of my own ties to Michigan.  Walloon Lake holds mythical stature in my mind.  

I have been coming up here all my life and had never happened upon the somewhat hidden Hemingway haunts (alliteration unintentional).  Finally, with my family in tow, we spent the better part of the day orienteering, sleuthing, finding clues, and tracing steps.  I am sure I made it more mysterious than it needed to be, but isn't that part of the adventure?  

My kids might not understand the significance of what they saw today, at least not now.  But one day, I hope they have memories of driving down seasonal fire trails, knocking on the door of an old general store, stopping to let wild turkeys cross the road, and dipping their toes into the crystal clear lake of Hemingway's formative years.

"We are a couple of crazy kids, aren't we?"



No one wants to speak of the small paradise, because to acknowledge it would mean throwing a million embers of light into a dark world that swallows them up anyway.  But maybe, if everyone threw the glowing embers of paradise into a dark night, just maybe, it lights up somewhere along the galaxy known as our own.

The space in Michigan extends for lazy miles of soybean fields and highways that are split generously down the middle by grassy, tree-lined medians.  The kids walk out the back door and find their way, barefoot, to a garden where they can pull a dirt-caked radish from the ground or inspect the tiny bugs that clamor about the tomato plants.  The bright fuchsia of the radish lies in remarkable contrast against the muddy soil.  The kids proudly collect the alien-colored treasures, and my mind trails off to the latest fashion piece I read somewhere, "It's All About the Bright Lip for Summer," along with models wearing Wayfarer sunglasses and smiling fuchsia smiles.  My daughter pulls a mulberry off the tree that has wrapped its roots around a decaying fence.  She smiles at me, teeth dripping purple and blue.


The space here extends a few blocks in each direction, with clear demarcations noting where "ours" stops and "not ours" begins.  Our library is catty corner from our 7-11, which is not to be confused with the library and the 7-11 three blocks north.  We stayed at our park until 9pm tonight, past the time when the smart parents have already gotten the kids to bed and into the hour when the sun sets and the summer's record level of mosquitos (I read about it in the paper) start buzzing around little ankles.  I had run into a friend, another mom.  We talked about this and that, neither one of us wanting to acknowledge that bedtime had long since passed.  It's summer, let them run.  The kids ran around the park in a swarm, yelling excitedly about catching fireflies.

We came home and because I promised them a treat (even though our ice cream man was uncharacteristically absent tonight), I scanned the house for something that would suffice.  I got two overripe mangoes from the Aldi earlier today.  They were 59 cents apiece and I had every intention of secretly devouring them whole over the kitchen sink once the house was asleep.  Nothing like a mango on a summer night.  But I cut them up into little chunks for the kids, put them in ice cream dishes, and they jumped up and down as if I had given them ice cream.  I did a dramatic presentation: "NO!  You cannot have-a the mango!" and they laughed uproariously, even though they did not watch Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, which was kind of what I was going for.

I almost fell asleep next to my son, but was dragged back to life by the invisible lilliputians that pull a tired mother's body back into action when there are still dishes to be done and laundry to be folded. In a few moments, the chores were done.  I surveyed my sleeping kitchen.  Satisfied, I added one final touch, a note for my husband, who worked late tonight.  Working so that I can have these moments at the park with my young kids.  I sent a "thank you" up to the stars, to whomever or whatever is smiling down on me because surely I don't deserve a life this nice all on my own merit.  A small paradise.



The sun is shining, I went for a jog, and it didn't hurt.

My head is full of crazy ideas that just might work.

Filled with gratitude today:  for getting to play music with some of my favorite people on the fourth of July, for two healthy kids, for a loving and supportive husband, for my friends and family.  Nothing is now or has ever been perfect, but I can't shake this feeling of good fortune.  Lucky to be alive.  Lucky to experience any of it!

I used to apologize for my enthusiasm.  No more.  There is nothing more precious and beautiful than this day, this moment, the moments you have with loved ones, the moments you have, however few, doing what you love.

I am so thankful today, and always, to have been given a second chance!  I was so scared, eaten up by fear.  I was scared that tumor was going to kill me and leave my kids without a mom.  My biggest fear in the world.  If I seem high on life these days, I can only describe it as having stared down a monster, and somehow escaping it alive. THAT is an amazing feeling.  Sometimes I just like to stop and remember to be thankful.

Wishing you an amazing day of possibility today... you never know where life will take you, for better or worse, seize this moment!