Dear diary, it’s been five weeks since my last confession. A lot has changed – some for the good, some for the not so great – but nonetheless my group of exemplary cohorts (er, co-workers) and I have weathered through a seemingly treacherous storm amidst a raging sea. If I were to assign a song to the experience that was my first “Progress Chenango,” I would steal a line from a budding Neil Young who sang: “Sailing hardships through broken harbors out on the waves in the night; still a searcher must ride the darkness racing alone in his fright. Tell me why.”
Our ship’s fearless captain selflessly maneuvered the beast to the other side, a battle that I could only liken to driving a ’72 El Dorado with balding middle-aged tires and loose steering down a winding Chenango County back road. Sure, it had it’s moments filled with poise and false sense of security, but for the most part our brilliant boffin was wrestling her sense of dignity with her unwavering ethic-steeped determination.
I’m looking forward to getting back into having time to focus on writing opinion pieces, blogs and more in-depth daily news reporting, all of which – admittedly and with regret – were taxed when juggled with the added workload leading up to the publication of the ten extra papers.
During my absence from blogosphere, A woman I considered to be my mother passed away. Now, I’m not one to bear my soul over loss or let my personal life interfere with my work; but a series of events transpired shortly before her death that has changed my life.
Long ago – shortly after my father passed away – I moved out of the area, married and established my life elsewhere. I all but abandoned my family, losing touch with my siblings, aunts/uncles.
The significance of this is that I had come from a very tight-knit, closely related family… we were raised on a farm in White Store (a hamlet just over the hill between route eight and Norwich) where my cousins and I spent every season of our youthful years together. My cousins were effectively my siblings – and I respected my aunts and uncles with same regard as my parents.
After the passing of my grandparents and father in my teens, moving off the farm and the inevitable passage of time we went our separate ways and became disassociated.
In typical fashion- the ebb and flow of life returned me back to the Norwich area a divorced man with six children searching for his roots.
Last fall, as I started work here at The Evening Sun, I received word that Lanie (mom) was suffering from a rare form of oral cancer and that a benefit had been scheduled to assist in defraying the cost of travel expenses to and from chemotherapy treatments.
I felt compelled to attend, if not only to pay my respect the woman who was strong enough to step forward and raise a hellish younger version of myself in the absence of my biological mother who stepped out when I was all of two years of age.
When I arrived at the venue, I quickly became flush with an uncomfortable fear of scrutiny. I felt what I thought was the disapproving eyes of folks I hadn’t spoken a word to in more than a decade fall upon me. I scanned the room, clawing for a familiar face to comfort me – to which the results were nil.
I had trouble remembering the names of my own family whom played a tremendous role in shaping me into the person I am today.
In my confusion, I failed to notice Jeanine – my older cousin whom I had the strongest relationship with as a child – as she approached me and greeted me with the biggest smile and best feeling embrace that I had encountered in quite some time.
In a matter of two minutes we shed nearly twelve years of age and lost time with minimal diction. I was able to find that one person I’d least expected but needed the most. We laughed and talked, poked fun of one another – I commented “Neenee” on how good she looked, and she was more than willing to let me know that I was shaping up quite like my dad – her favorite uncle Dennis.
Lanie wasn’t feeling all that great and had all of her teeth extracted the day prior inpreperatin of a procedure, so by the time I had arrived at the venue my stepsister Andrea had taken her home. As the evening concluded and we all pitched in to clean up the Sherburne American Legion, I made plans with Andrea to get up to see mom as she was living adjacent to her.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and then Christmas had come and gone – Jeanine and I had exchanged phone numbers and had begun the process of re-connecting. My girlfriend Rachel and I had made a few trips to Jeanine and her husband Jason’s cabin on Hatch Lake and acquainted the kids to one another.
It felt good answering my niece’s and nephew’s questions of “will you be coming to see us more often” with a re-affirming “yes.”
Shortly after New Years I learned that Laine had died. She became ill and was admitted to the hospital where her unexpected prognosis of weeks to live was trumped only by her unexpected death the next morning.
My heart sank. I never made it up to see her. Once again, life had become the priority and I would never see her again.
I took a good look at the situation and came to what I consider an obligatory catharsis.
Had it not been for the demise of my mom, I most likely would have spent God knows however many more years away from my past; away from the family I wanted to be a part of. In essence, it took the tragedy of loosing one of the most influential people in my life to bring me back to the ones that I love and missed all along.
Without knowing it, Laine planted the seed for the future of my family. I am lucky, humbled and grateful for such a great gift. I am doing my best to nurture this freshly planted seedling along.