Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Down the Cape

Yesterday we left the house to drive down the Cape to go see my grandmother, AKA "Gammy," because we never go see her. Knowing we had a day off I was thinking we'd go geocache in the Worcester area, there are a few new good ones out and about that way.

My husband has a way of reminding me that there are other humans in my life.

I called her on Sunday morning, and she was thrilled to hear we'd be coming down. Back in May she broke her arm and has been having all kinds of trouble with it. She was pretty much on the mend, and then on Saturday her patio door got blown into her face and she shot her arm out to stop it. Needless to say -- she's reinjured herself, and it pisses her off. So our coming down there I'm sure brightened her day.

I feel like a shit most of the time because I rarely think of contacting family, and I probably shouldn't because it isn't like my phone rings off the hook (unless it's my girl LeeLee callin' me from the F.L.A. yo), if you catch my drift. For me, I know my family down the southlands is busy. They have lives. I don't get phone calls asking how I'm doing because my mom is that conduit for communication with them. So I don't feel abandoned or neglected, and I doubt they give it much of a second thought themselves.

Getting down near the Cape is something I hate attempting nearly 7 months out of the year. Right about now, before the winter kicks in and makes weather so miserable is the perfect time to go.

It takes about 2 hours, with no traffic. Now, for us, we have two traffic obstacles -- Boston and the Cape bridges. It can be an hour in each location (getting through the city, getting to the bridge to cross it) and then the time spent getting to the obstacles. It has taken about 4 hours for us on some days. It sucks.

So we never go down there.

"Where do you want to go to lunch, Gammy?" I asked.

"McDonalds." She replied.

"No seriously, we want to take you somewhere nicer than McDonald's."

I wasn't sure if she was suggesting McDonalds for the kids or for it being an inexpensive place to eat. She doesn't like people spending money on her -- when I call her on the phone she rushes me off because it is expensive (meanwhile, we have this eastern Massachusetts calling plan deal where we can talk for a billion and a half minutes and it's way cheap, and we never go over the minutes allotted. but... she still thinks we're paying through the nose to call her). So we took her to the Hearth and Kettle, Cape Cod cooking at its slowest. The waitress was really nice and even goosed Geoff when he was wiggling around in his chair, which made us all laugh (some people would have been immediately offended, not us. Goosing a wiggly kid is funny stuff).

But the food took forever to get there, and it wasn't as good as I recalled it being. But, nonetheless, it was a lot of fun to hang with Gammy. We took her down to the ocean beach at Falmouth, and she told me she used to take my cousins Billy and John there when they were little, with some KFC for lunch. They'd play in the water and the sand and she'd sit in the car and read.

Geoff was semi-obsessed with Gammy's broken arm, and I must have told him a thousand times to be kind and gentle to it. So, when I asked him to pose with her, he decided to show that he was kind and gentle to the broken arm. "What happened to your arm?" was the first thing out of his mouth when he saw her. She explained... and he said "Oh, are you okay?"

He's sweet that way sometimes. Then he told her he was going to "grow up like a doctor. Like a scientist. and EVIL Scientist!"

Gammy was thoroughly entertained.

And I took two pictures of Gam and Jessie, and in each one Gammy decided to look AT Jess instead of at the camera.

I got after her for turning her head (it isn't the first time she's done it in my experience with her. Note, she did it with Geoff too. Right before the flash goes off, she turns). She told me that she didn't want a picture of her looking at a camera, she wants to look AT the kids.

So I let her have her way and didn't take a third.

We drove around past "the Knob" which I guess is an infamous party spot in Falmouth, but is really beautiful (cateringman grew up there and when I told him we were by his old stomping grounds he laughed, "Oh, I could tell you stories about stuff I did in my wild youth at the Knob, but I'm a good Christian man now and it'd be a sin just recounting those events..."). There's a geocache there, and if it hadn't been raining I would have wanted to go do it after we left Gammy, but weather did not permit, so another visit is in order.

And we drove over to Nobska light and past the cemetery where my Grandfather is buried. "Bampi" is what we would have called him to his face, and we called him that all the time growing up. Still do. Never knew him. Wish I had.

Gammy told us more stories about going to Nobska when my Bampi worked there. He'd call her and tell her to bring him his lunch, and when she did, the guys at the lighthouse would sound the horn as she turned the corner (on his request, of course) and "scare the devil" out of her. She laughed and laughed. She also showed us where she would walk with my mom and her sister when going to the beach when they were little. It was a nice little drive around, and it sucks that it was all rainy, because it would have been so nice to get out and walk around things...

but, another visit.

When we got home, we had a nice surprise waiting. I'd left a key for Wayne and he finished the built-in cabinet for the TV. Now. I have to stain it and figure out how to run power up underneath from the basement. But -- here it is. With plenty of room for a big assed TV to nest in there. Wahoo!

It was Veterans' Day yesterday and I almost totally forgot because most years (except this one and the 2 when I was at the college working) I've been on the job, so I hardly think of it as a holiday.

There are very few veterans in my life anymore. There's my father in law, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam, and was in the reserves in Pittsburgh for several years after the war... in fact, he retired from the reserves a couple years after I met Doug.

Doug's grandfather fought in WWII and was at D-day. He had all kinds of amazing stories about his experiences, and I know I said thank you to him once or twice in the short time I knew him.

In the discussion group for my old company's stock, there was a WWII vet called "CT" who would often talk about his service days. He took a shine to me, and a couple other people, and we'd email bad jokes back and forth to each other.

Even though neither of us have posted on the stock board in over a year, he still sends me a daily joke, and journal like emails which he sends to his family. It's kind of weird to be on that distribution list, with his family.

I feel I've gotten to know him pretty well, even though I have no idea where he lives. I know he took a year long "assignment" at a state forest on the coast of California last year to be the camp caretaker. It was something he always wanted to do. So it was neat to get these updates from him about life at the camp, the people he met. He is a friendly and active old dude, and I'm sure he made other people's lives a living hell at the camp. He seems the type. So I emailed him last night, the message was:

No joke today, just a simple thanks. Thank you CT for your service to this country, and thank you for sharing your stories with me over the past 2 years.

The email back was:

You made my day. My own kids haven't yet thanked me, in their lives. Thanks for putting a smile on this old face.

I feel like calling my father in law, to say thank you, but I don't know. He doesn't ever talk about Vietnam, his experience, his life... one would never know he was a serviceman because unlike so many others he simply doesn't bring it up. Once in a great while he'll tell us a story, usually something really funny. He doesn't talk about being in combat or any of the negative experiences he may have had. I know Vietnam veterans often go off the deep end, and have a reputation as people who can't handle what happened to them in their lives.

But my father in law -- if anything truly horrific happened to him, or if he witnessed something horrid, you'd never know it. He doesn't let it show. He never discusses it. And that's probably a good and bad thing.

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