Letters To My Sons | April

Dear boys,

We spent Easter week at Grandma and Pow Pow's house this year, where for almost 25 years I've sought refuge at various stages in my life. One of the greatest joys for me as a mother is seeing how it's become a refuge for you guys too. "Camp Sewickley Creek" as we like to call it is the place you are most excited to visit; the place we go to get away from New York with a backyard that looks like a national park and a creek running through it good for skipping stones and getting muddy. It's where you see deer in the early morning fog from the bedroom window and blue heron as you eat lunch at the kitchen table. Together you've seen rabbits and foxes and crazed red robins pecking at the window. Of course who could forget the time we called the police to report the rabid mama and baby raccoons on the other side of the creek, watching as they were put out of their misery by the cop with a terrible shot, then took photos inside the police car! 

But the number one reason you love going to "Camp Sewickley Creek" is to see "Grandma Banana" and Pow Pow, always telling me how the first thing you're going to do when you get there is give them a big hug! 

These trips have been a huge part of your childhood and likely will become even more frequent in the coming year. Others have groaned that it's such a long drive, especially with kids, but that's not the case for us. Waking up and driving partway to Harrisburg "while it's still nighttime outside" for a sunrise breakfast at Cracker Barrel has simply become our tradition. Your excitement - and this is no exaggeration - is like Christmas morning! "How many more days 'til we see Grandma and Pow Pow??" you ask for weeks on end; anticipation so great that when we finally get there, after seven hours in the car, you take off running with wild abandon.  

Daddy and I agree that you have a relationship with your grandparents that neither of us did, with numerous traditions contingent upon what season we are visiting: chalk drawings on the deck, running around with Cooper (RIP), living room dance parties, trainspotting with Pow Pow on the abandoned bridge in Leetsdale, and smiley face cookies from Eat 'N Park. There's our many trips to the Science Center and Children's Museum, riding the Duquesne Incline and looking out over Point State Park, marshmallow guns, badminton, swimming at Allegheny, playing football in the yard covered with GIGANTIC yellow leaves, and catching those same leaves as they float and twirl down from the trees. There have been many Christmas mornings, afternoons building snowmen, summer days rocking out to Prince on the deck, and helping Pow Pow grill hamburgers for dinner.

But even when the weather's not that great, we're happy hunkering down indoors - rolling Grandma's green physioball through the house, playing "Simon Says" with "Alexa" and trying on silly hats. The two freezers are always full of different flavored ice-cream; cabinets stocked with candies and all the makings for s'mores. Sleeping on air mattresses in the same room as Mommy and Daddy and staying up late to eat with the grownups are just a few other treats. Their house, like a museum filled with the finest art both rare and exotic, also has a couple things to make little grandsons giggle: petrified dinosaur poop and a walrus penis bone!  

As grandparents they spoil you; of course. Allowing Daddy and I to do the scolding with a twinkle in their eye is just one of the ways. They love you so much, but they also love watching their own children go through what they did. During this last visit Cash said, "Pow Pow you're always smiling! Even when you eat you're smiling!!" which gave us all a laugh. I wonder Cash, if Pow Pow might just be so happy to be in your company and the company of your brother that even something as mundane as eating is fun? Or he might just be a merry elf with twinkly smiling eyes -- maybe that's it!  What I do know with certainty, is that even when it seems like we're not doing all that much at the Camp, we are happy just being together.

Going through my old photo catalogs, realizing just how many visits we've made over the years, I was inspired to compile some of my favorites. Though many are just snapshots taken with my phone, what's undeniable is just how many memories you've made at Camp Sewickley Creek. 

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I guess that's why good-byes are getting so much harder; this last one by far the most emotional. During the car ride to the airport, the somber quiet was interrupted only by Grandma's occasional sigh: "I'm so sad you guys are leaving."

At curbside, Grandma had tears welling up in her eyes. Then I looked over at you Cash and saw you were crying too and it was almost more than I could bear. With one last tearful wave from inside the glass doors, we made our way into the sea of travelers, already thinking about when we'd be coming back. Telling you guys it won't be long was the only comfort I could muster.


  

There is a wise old saying that couldn't be more true in my experience:

"The only thing better than having you for parents is my children having you for grandparents." ~ 

I feel such joy watching you with Grandma and Pow Pow; seeing that you have the same love for them that I do. All the visits to Camp Sewickley Creek, the memories and traditions -- even those that have yet to come --fill my heart with gratitude; my one and only sadness is that life is simply too short. 

So boys, now and throughout your lifetimes, may you continue to share with those you love just how much they mean to you. May your hearts be filled with God's love and a deep thankfulness. And last but not least, may you find joyful moments even in the most mundane with eyes that forever twinkle like Grandma and Pow Pow. 

I love you both.

Always & forever, Mom