Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh, it's the most wonderful time of the year...

It's started already. Last night, as I was sitting down to watch Horatio Cane kick butt CSI-Miami-style, I saw it. A commercial for Staples with parents dancing down the aisles with half-comatose kids in tow, on a couch no less. School is a month away and we're already celebrating. Okay, not me, but gazillion parents are doing the mambo or the rhumba - anything but the funeral march that the kids will be doing.

I still try to stretch August out. I guess I hadn't got it out of my system when I was in school and it still represents summer, running through sprinklers, riding bikes until well past streetlight time, camping and going to visit Grandma up north (yes, where the Chapman's Ice Cream lives). It does not represent back-to-school shopping, binders, erasers and whatever other school supplies are needed. And, it does not represent a change in season. That's what fall is for, and I'm sorry but August, you ain't fall. No matter what those Staples people are trying to sell.

It also means that in two days (that's right TWO), I will be on my way across the ocean to visit my second home. The rolling, white-dotted hills (the dots are sheep btw), narrow roads flanked by stone walls and crazy-ass roundabouts. Tea by the gallon, bran scones, a pogue of chips with brown vinegar, walking uphill both ways and family. August to me is family, a reconnection and a recollection of our history, of what makes us who we are.

My main intent for this visit is a) accompany my cousin and her new bundle of joy on their first transatlantic flight together, offering a shoulder, an extra pair of hands and even a diaper changer if needed. The other reason is to visit with my aunt, who will be 89 this year and is angry that she can't do everything she used to do.

My family says that I am to expect a big change in her from my last visit two years ago. Her eyesight has deteriorated, along with her hearing and her balance, which wasn't good to begin with, is almost non-existent. This remarkable lady had persevered through a lot - through a war, being separated from the love of her life, an officer in the army, raising three sons and witnessing the birth of eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her childhood could be described as challenging. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it was a hard go - harder than anything I had to experience. She had worked tirelessly to give what she did not have and she continues to touch many, many lives with her kindness.

And she's angry - angry that her body, at 89, is failing her. Always one to do for others, she revolts when a fuss is made over her. If you're going to vacuum with her, then she'll help out by dusting. You plan to take her out to dinner? She'll make dinner before you arrive and insist on staying in for a full meal catered by her, cuppa tea and all. She worries like the best of them (have you met my mother yet? Her sister? The resemblance is uncanny). And god, do I love her.
It's said you can never choose your family and it's true. I was born to my mother, who was born to hers. We take a little bit of the previous generation in our DNA. It could be our upturned nose, our shade or texture of hair, the lilt in our voice, and it can also be how we hold ourselves, our proud walk - proud to be a part of the long line of strong women who came before.

Confession: I'm not proud to be a little nervous. Part of it is because I'm a procrastinator and, as usual, I've left a lot to the last minute. It wouldn't be my trip without it! I'm also nervous because I'm doing something I've never done before - traveled by train into areas unknown. Will I get the right train? Miss my stop? Not get along with the people I'm supposed to be visiting with? It's a fear of the unknown and once I've had the experience of a new adventure the fear will be gone.

I may blog once more before I depart, but if I don't, I'll have lots to report when I get back. Stay tuned. August is not over yet.


  1. 1. School starts here on Aug 10-- Aug 5 for some. Yay for parents, sucks for kids. Where did the summer go?
    2. Scotland-- how exciting! I think of beautiful green moors and old castles. But not so much the food. Maybe haagus gets a bad rap.

  2. It really does get a bad rap, Kim! Most of the food, I find bland though, save the ones I mentioned.

    We always start the school year on the first Tuesday in September... after Labour Day. Poor kids!

  3. HI!!!! i cant believe you will be gone soon! I want to come hang out REALLY soon when you get back! ok? ok! call me ;)

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous Scotland. I know you're going to enjoy your little butt off. It's also good you're getting over there to see your aunt.

    School starts next week for my 2 kiddies and I'm as happy as a pig in shit. Not happy 'cos they'll be out of my hair, but happy they are back with their classmates. They love school. ;)

  5. Thanks everyone for the best wishes on the trip, and my heart goes out to all those kiddies having to go to school as early as next week. Or in Akilah's case, I hope the first week goes well and her kids reconnect with all of their friends.

    Neenee, I'll call you. For sure, I will. We need another game night!