02:30:06 pm on
Wednesday 19 Jun 2024

Doubling Up One Weekend
AJ Robinson

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

This the first verse of the Guy Fawkes poem. Fawkes tried to blow up the English Parliament, on 5 November 1605. He was unsuccessful and the poem is to remind us of what turned out a non-event.  

For me, these words have a completely different meaning.

My mother (above) was born on 5 November 1925. She is ninety-four years old. This is one of her off years. Do you know what that means?

People make a big deal out of certain years, typically the five and ten year intervals. Sometimes, such as with my mother, there are special years, as when the digits are the same: 11, 22, 33 and so on. To my mother, those are significant. She says they’re lucky. I don’t know, special year birthdays never worked for me.

As her birthday falls on a Tuesday this year, it was hard to find a time to celebrate. We elected to go down over this past weekend. The memorial for Gayron, the brother-in-law of my wife, Jo Ann, was the same weekend, which allowed us to combine two visits.

It was a whirlwind of activity for us. Early Friday we had the closing for our new place. No more renting for us, we’re homeowners, again. We bought a nice little townhouse.

The buying experience was draining and the paperwork confusing and lengthy. Once done, we hit the road and drove down to Port Charlotte. As it was going to be a busy and difficult weekend, we’d elected to get a hotel in the area.

Early Saturday, we dressed and went to see Penny, my mother-in-law, and wait for the service. We visited; chatted; saw Aunt Dee and my sister-in-law Jackie. Then we loaded up the car and drive to the Kingdom Hall. Here we ran into a little glitch.

I hadn’t bothered to put on my dress shirt and suit jacket before we left for the memorial service. I had my clothes in a garment bag and intended to change before we left. I forgot and no one noticed until we were walking in the side door of Kingdom Hall.

I did what I had to do.

I hopped back in my car, raced back to Penny’s, changed my shirt, got on my jacket and zipped back to the church. The ushers were nice enough to slip me on the end of the family row. I sat right next to my daughter Alexa and thus was able to comfort her, as the service progressed.

The speaker knew Gayron, well and, said wonderful things of him. There were many cowboy references: his riding, how he loved his hat and playing the guitar and his trouble in finding boots that fit. In fact, the speaker related a story of how Kim, Gayron’s daughter, asked him what he hoped was the first thing he would see in the next life. His answer was Marie’s face.

What was the second thing he would see in his next, she wondered, expecting it to be her face. He replied, “A pair of boots that fit,” he said. He had such a dry wit.

That night, drained and beyond exhausted, we retired early, which was a tad ironic given that the time change was coming up. Next morning, we were up super early. We had a big day ahead of us, so we packed and got going quickly.

Picking Alexa up from her hotel, we drove down to Naples, and drove to my mom’s place. My brother David and his wife Shirley were there, too; we set off for a nice little brunch. I was glad to see mom looking well.

Just last week, my mother suffered another fall that gave her right elbow a bad laceration; she needed stitches. I wasn’t sure how well she’d be feeling. After all, at 94, even a minor tumble can be devastating. Still, we managed to have a nice visit, we chatted and ate; she didn’t give me a hard time about us picking up the bill.

Our visit had to be brief. It was Sunday, I had work the next day, Jo had packing and other tasks to do. It was a long drive back to Orlando.

We had no wish to try driving through Orlando late on Sunday, when traffic is at its worst. We set off, making it home at a reasonable time and settling down for the evening.

It had been two days of emotional roller-coaster activity. We still had the move into our new townhouse to go. Yet, it was time well spent. We saw family, were there for family that needed us, and got to spend time with the family we still had with us.

An ironic weekend.

That we attended a funeral and birthday in the same weekend was both ironic and symbolic, as there will come a day when there are no more birthdays to look forward to, only memories of what was and regrets and what could have been. Always strive for more memories and few regrets.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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