Monday, July 4, 2011

The Village People.

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Having a nice time. Wish you were hear here.

Isaiah and Zachary


 Picture it: Two little boys, one tireless and hard core granddad, and one fanny pack full of Chapstick, Band-aids, and snacks.  . . .

Next, picture this:

Four weeks of uninterrupted spoiling in California--far away from Mommy and Daddy.  One trip to Legoland on one day followed by one visit to the The San Diego Zoo the next day, divided by one San Diego hotel with two pools that of course, you can go swimming in at seven o'clock in the morning, of course you can--and that's just within the first three days.

Yep. It's that time of year again.

2009 - curbside service

"Camp PaPa" -- the west coast sleep away camp that includes front door child pickup, flight arrangements, reading lessons, haircuts, swimming lessons, and (on at least two occasions) 100% guar-own-teed potty-training-on-demand. Yep. Camp PaPa is as good as it sounds.

The best part of Camp PaPa, though, is that it includes hefty doses of the stuff that helped me to grow up feeling whole and alright with myself.  You know--all the stuff that makes you think that what you have to say is worth hearing and that your best effort is definitely worth giving because it can amount to something good.

This year is Camp PaPa 2011--the fourth year the boys have gone and the most special one to date.  Why is that, you ask? Simple. Isaiah is six and Zachary is almost five. I know for certain that it's the first one that they will both remember.

Sure, they'll see the pictures from the others, but this one? They will be able to see in clear sight. And yeah, that memory might be fuzzy and run into the other years, but you know? I'd say that's a good thing.

I just want them to remember. For themselves.

Camp PaPa 2011  - Legoland

Someone asked me, "Four weeks! Aren't you sad about them being gone for that long?"

My answer? "Kinda-sorta-but-not-really."

Firecracker day 2008
Lights out.

And that's the truth. Because I miss them yes, but honestly? I know it takes a village to raise a child and that my village was a good one. One of the most important parts of mine (my amazing mother) is less than thirty minutes north of Atlanta, so fortunately my kids get meaningful time with her on a regular basis. But I also know that one of the other most pivotal huts in that same village just happens to be more than 2,000 miles away in California and just happens to be that very unusual combination of willing, able. . . and trustworthy. So for the past four summers they've gone 2,000 miles to their grandfather's hut for the impact that only that kind of time can give. Which means, as a parent, sometimes you just have to be a little bit sad.

Kinda-sorta-but-not-really, that is.

Camp PaPa 2011

You know what else? If both living for forty and a half years and being a Grady doctor have taught me nothing else, it's taught me this:  Whether we like it or not, the village is ever-evolving. The village people come and sometimes, when we least expect it, they go. Morbid, I know, but true indeed. Yeah. When they do go, the best you can offer are stories under a shaded tree of who they were and what they taught and what they meant to the little village kids listening.

That relies on memories and experiences so rich in detail that with a little effort someone can weave into tales that bring them back to life. So that's why, if you can,  it's good to remember. For yourself.

My sweet mother-in-law lives in Cleveland and gets down here for wonderful visits when her work schedule allows. If I could move her to Atlanta, I so would, and---I am not kidding---would dance a jig if she were moving today. Because she, too, is a part of our village. . . .and of their village.

Harry's father passed away before I or our boys ever got the chance to know him. Aaaah, but the memories and the experiences Harry's father left behind? Priceless.  And thank God Harry has those memories. For himself. For his village. For theirs.

Learning to "skip rocks" -- Firecracker Day 2010

Sometimes those village people are living and are breathing and are still able to create their own stories.  They're right there in your face or up the road or on Skype or sometimes could be there but require planes, trains and automobiles to see and touch and know. And effort, too.

So, if it's important to you, you do it while you can. . . even if it means loosening the reins a bit and being a little bit melancholy on Firecracker Day. And you know what? It is important to me.

I hope someday it will be important to them, too.

I think it will.

Camp PaPa - 2010

 Yeah.  I guess I could be sad to be away from my kids on the fourth of July. But seriously? How can I be?

Just how?

Some fireworks never end.

May your day be filled with the richest of memories, with the brightest of fireworks and of course, with mischief of one kind or another.

Happy Firecracker Day, y'all.


  1. Oh my. I don't know who I love more- those boys or their handsome, loving, incredible grandfather.

  2. PaPa was having challenges posting his comment, so I am posting this for him:

    The village.

    I sympathize with all of the grandpas or papas that for whatever reason, don't get a chance to spend this kind of time with their grandchildren.

    I just sit and watch the boys, and listen to their conversations and smile to myself. How lucky can one person be? Just to hear them say "Papa" or "Grandpa" just warms my heart.

    My goal now is to keep dementia at bay. (My daughter promises that the boys can visit each summer as long as I don't show signs of dementia.)


    Grandpa CEO "Camp Papa"

  3. Oh, man, I love this. As someone who never had a chance to know either of their grandfathers, its so heart-warming to see the love that y'all share!! :)

  4. Your sons are blessed, to have this village and to have a mother who understands how important a village is. Your father is an amazing man.

  5. This just made me cry. I thought I would have to wait until the littles were older to send them to Cali, but maybe not.

  6. Amazing post! My boys had a Camp Poppop where they could spend such quality time until he passed away suddenly a few years ago. So glad that your kids have a Camp to go to and that you are documenting those special memories for them.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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