It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.

I would be spending Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, a thousand miles from home…“I don’t think I can stand it here,” I said during the weekly call to my parents that Sunday. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Just come home,” my father said. I was crying by then. “It’s too late,” I said. “It’s way too late.”

“You can always come home, Sweet,” he said…

Those were words of loving reassurance from a parent to his child, a reminder that as long as he and my mother were alive, there would always be a place in the world for me, a place where I would always belong, even if I didn’t always believe I belonged there.

But I wonder now, three decades later, whether my father’s words were more than a reminder of my everlasting place in the family. I wonder now whether they were also an expression of his own longing for the days when all his chicks were still in the nest, when the circle was still closed and the family he and my mother had made was complete. We were an uncommonly close family, and I was the first child to leave home. But I gave no thought to my parents’ own loneliness as they pulled away from the curb in front of my apartment in Philadelphia, an empty U-Haul rattling behind Dad’s ancient panel van, for the drive back to Alabama without me.

I gave no thought to it then, but I think of it all the time now. My youngest child left for college in August, and this house has never seemed so empty. It’s not actually empty. My husband is still here, and my father-in-law still comes over for supper most nights. Because we have a big extended family and friends often passing through on their way somewhere else, hardly a week goes by without guests in our guest room. Last summer, anticipating my own sadness once our sons were at school, I put out the word in our neighborhood that I was happy to be a backup car pool driver or homework wrangler, but the presence of borrowed children in this house, though joyful, is also an aching reminder of the years gone by with my own.

No matter how full my life is with marriage and work and relatives and friends and the cares of citizenship in a struggling world, I miss my children. Every day, I miss my children, and as I wait for them to come home for Thanksgiving, I think of my father’s words across a bad landline connection in 1984 that reached my homesick heart in cold Philadelphia. I remember the 26-hour bus ride into the heart of Greyhound darkness that followed, a desperate journey that got me home in time for the squash casserole and the cranberry relish, and I hope my sons know now as surely as I knew it then, as surely as I have known it my entire life: Whatever happens, they can always come home. They can always, always come on home.

~ , excerpts from “It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.” (The New York Times, Nov 22, 2017)


Notes: Essay – Thank you Rachel. Illustration – Pinterest

I love the dawn stillness (on Thanksgiving Day)

light-night-house-family

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes: Photo: Mennyfox55

Thanksgiving morn. House full of sleepers.

light-night-house-family

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes: Photo: Mennyfox55

She’s Gone (Again)

rachel-apartment-sullivan-street-2

Four days later, and the tops of both thighs still burn, sensitive to the touch. No, nothing to do with running, which is another sad story, left for another day.

I load my canons, yes one “n”, and fire.

  • The Tort: “You entered into a verbal contract. You said you would stay.”
  • The Economic: “Manhattan is nose bleed expensive. You’ll drain whatever savings you have.”
  • The Nostalgic: “I’m turning your room in an extension of my Den, and calling it my West Wing.”
  • The Desperate: “You know in Italy, kids live with their parents until well into their 30’s.”
  • The Fear Mongering: “I’m cutting you off Netflix, Amazon Prime and yes, AT&T Mobile Service.”

Nothing works. And we’re off.

The family caravan departs in the Resettlement. Eric (Son) drives the U-haul with two friends. Mom, Dad and Rachel are up ahead in a separate car.  Waze estimates 44 miles – a whopping 1 hour 42 minutes to lower Manhattan.

The rain falls gently, setting the appropriate back drop.

It’s a five-floor walk-up. I now know what a 5-floor walk-up means. No elevators and narrow stairwells. Walk-up means walk-up. With furniture, furnishings and oversize and overweight boxes, all up five floors – on foot. With adequate resistance provided by non-ventilated, A/C-free hallways. The musty carpet fibers are pulled deep into the lungs with each trip up and down the stairs. [Read more…]

Siblings.

safe,parent,

She’s 23.  Her Brother, 22.

He orders a Tom Collins, and gets carded.  She, a Zinfindel. Dad, a tall ice water. “Sparkling, or Flat for you Sir?”  “Tap, Miami’s finest please.” After dinner cocktails in a hotel bar, with of-age children. Embrace the memories, block the melancholia. I fail, it seeps in and then overwhelms me, water around stone.

It’s a quiet Friday night. The Sushi Chef leans on the glass case and flirts with the cocktail waitress. She’s wearing a smart black skirt and jacket.  On the other side of the bar, middle aged lovers huddle, whispering.

A one-man band blows on an electronic wind instrument, alternating with a brass trumpet with a black trumpet cap.  His supporting cast, multi-colored bars flashing on a laptop and pumped out of tall, thin, floor standing speakers.  He sways to and fro, lips pursed on reed. The Chill music hangs, a sweet fine mist over the valley.  One could drop this, all of this, in Ramblas in Barcelona, in Gastown in Vancouver or the Dièse Onze in Montreal.  Vibe, Same.

The eyelids are heavy, barbells. The body, from its all day soak in the sun, the wind, and the ocean salt, aches for rest.

I watch them leave together, bar hopping. She leans into him with her shoulder, they laugh. How many times in their lifetimes? Hundreds of times where Mom, and Dad, the Heavy, broke up skirmishes, and worse. Salter’s Light Years: “Passing of life together, a compact that will never end…lives formed together, woven together.”  And Parents stitching, braiding, weaving it all in the hope of This. Look, This, a tapestry. Full body warmth rushes in.

I ride the elevator up.  Melancholy, a Tsunami now. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving at dawn. House full of sleepers.

sleep-son-family-holidays

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes:

Quiet has many moods

bed-sleep-sheets-covers-

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected. But those days are the exception now, not the norm.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes:

Empty Nest (and fully tethered)

cereal-bowl

One child in Detroit, working.
Another, in New York City, working.
And their Dad,
at home,
tethered to gadgets,
and to them,
is reading.
And here it comes…
[Read more…]

21. And counting.

black and white; photography

She turned 21.

Our celebration dinner was at home earlier in the week.
Family was seated together. She was at the head of the table.
Champagne glasses filled. Dad with his Snapple. A Toast.
Her favorites. Cheesy Parmigiano-Reggiano breaded chicken breasts.
Buttery mashed potatoes. Long stemmed broccoli and cheese.
Followed by vanilla flavored birthday cake with thick gobs of frosting.
Cards from Grandparents.
Earrings.
She opens a small box from her Brother. Beaming. She slides on a ring.
I turn my head away to keep it together.
Discussion turns from sharing stories to plans for the evening.

“I’m staying in the city with a friend.”
“You mean you’re not coming home tonight?”
“No, Dad”

Flash of anger. Rolling to disappointment. Then settling into Sad. Turning deep, down and inward.

Dad’s leaning into a gushing current.
Water rushing over, under, through.
Hopeless to stop it. Yet he keeps trying.

Happy Birthday Honey…


Let there be light…

child, bicycle, sad, bike, child riding bike, illustration, black and white

5:45am.

I’m in the car off to work.

It’s dark.

It’s cold.

It’s wet.

I’m scanning my playlist to find a match to my mood.  I’m challenged.  Nothing seems to fit.  Nothing that is, except the weather.

Mind pans back ten years. A sunny day in Miami.  A lazy Sunday afternoon.  She loves car rides.  The sun roof is open.  Andrea Bocelli is crooning on the cd player.  We’re crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway.  The City center is on our left.  Biscayne Bay’s shimmering aquamarine blues are on the right.  A warm tropical breeze is gushing through the windows.  I look over and her eyes are closed and her hair is blowing in the wind.  A portrait of youthful bliss.  An indelible image that can be pulled up at will.  [Read more…]

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