My son and his wife were leaving for her best friend’s wedding. This gala weeklong event was to be held on some island in the Caribbean. The funny part about that is that, when I was his age, a wedding on an island might have been Neville Island by a Gulf Oil storage tank, not the Grand Caiman Islands. And the trip there would have been in a used Chevy.
Because I was designated as the babysitter du jour, I picked up the Pittsburgh girls to take them to Johnstown, to hang with their cousins. It would be another city cousins meet country cousins for Memorial Day week-end event. They would go from their comfortable, pet less, Pittsburgh home with its 3D television, American Girl dolls, and comfortable fenced in backyard to their cousins’ home, the Ponderosa. There they would play on a trampoline, a swing set, and ten wooded acres of magnificent trails and craziness with two giant dogs and a dozen other little kids. Oh, yes, and they would swim in the new pool and eat all of their favorite picnic foods while waiting to see the fireworks.
The first thing that we had to do, though, was to go shopping at their local Target department store. I bought a masculine looking gardener’s kneeling pad (no pretty flowers or goofy butterflies), a bucket, a manly trowel, a dirt digger-handheld little rake kind of thing, and some man-sized gardening gloves, a.k.a., Macho Gardening!
When you live in a city condo without even a balcony, gardening tools are not a necessity. My current collection of condo tools consists of two screwdrivers (one of each kind), a crescent wrench, a roll of duct tape, pliers, and a hammer. In fact, when my grandson asked me about my tool box, I told him that it was very small and black. He raised his brows in consternation until I reached in my back pocket and showed him my wallet.
Anyway, back to the tool purchase. When we got to the checkout counter, I felt tangible sticker shock. These four little, stupid things cost over $50, and the real tragedy of this purchase is that they would not be used again until next Memorial Day. The $50 did not represent the entire purchase, though, because, while we were there, we had to buy Shopkins, TicTacs, bubble gum, and an outfit for baby, Pete. “Buy this one, Poppa, how cute. He’ll look so cute in this one,” they both cried out as we swept through the baby department.
Why the bucket and tools? You see, the girls were going to learn about planting flowers on their great and great great grandparent’s and their twin great uncle’s graves for Memorial Day. The youngest and baddest had already asked me three times if we could skip the working, planting, digging dirt part and just get right to her cousins, but with their other great uncle still hospitalized, it had been my pledge to him to get this obligatory task done before Monday.
We drove the 60 minutes to the first graveyard, and I had to explain that we were not going to dig up my mother and father and that yes, my dad had been buried in a blue suit. He hated blue. Then, at my grandparents’ grave site, I had to explain why there was a tombstone right beside theirs covered in Steeler’s logos. (The guy must have been a dedicated fan.) Finally, at my twin brothers’ grave, things went very well, very fast and we were done for the day.
As we drove by the house that was my childhood home and headed off to the mountains where we made a promised Blizzard stop at Dairy Queen, I tried to explain the day one more time. Maybe someday they’ll understand what this trip was really about, and maybe I will, too.