Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween, Leaf Jumping and Another Couch Surfer
I've written a bit about my mother-in-law in the past. She lives on the gulf coast of Mississippi. She moved to Mississippi the year my wife graduated high school with her husband who had recently retired. She was one of the lucky few people who actually made out when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in her sleepy little southern town(read here). She got out of town just before landfall and spent the next seven weeks sleeping on my couch, until things were livable back home. Almost three years to the day she returned to what must be the most comfy couch in the world as evidenced by its repeated use (I can attest to its comfiness being banished there for the occasional drunken night of sleep). When visiting her this past May she informed us that she wanted to come up and spend some time getting to know her grandchildren better in the fall. At first we thought it was just wishful thinking, but when she booked her ticket there was no turning back. I had mixed feelings.
My boys got the shit end of the stick genetically from my side of the family. My mother died at 52, dad at 53, so they don't have grandparents around on my side. I want my boys to have a grandmother they know and love, but my mother-in-law plain doesn't like kids. My grandmother Norton was a mushy, cuddly, butterball of love and hugs whose idea of fun was going to the movies or going out for ice cream. My mother-in-law is not the stereotypical grandmotherly type. She owns two bars, smokes, gambles, fun to hang with, if you are 43 not 5. My father-in-law lives next door, but isn't the grandfatherly type, yet. I have hope that he just doesn't know what to do with young kids. When they can go fishing, split wood and work heavy equipment I think they'll be more bonding.
My mother-in-law did her best in her latest seven week stay. She brought them to the park, went bowling, pumpkin picking, out for lunches and ice cream, but most of all she was there to see their smiling faces staring back at her as she opened her eyes each morning. She walked Matt to and from school a few times and even went to a "family dance" at the school. Early yesterday morning my wife drove her mother to airport in the dark. When the boys woke up they came running into my bedroom and wondered where "Nana" went. They were sad to hear she went back to Mississippi. It made me happy to know they were going to miss her and that they got to know her better
My boys favorite fall activity: Jumping in huge piles of leaves.
This morning on my way to the gym I saw a dear old friend Junito. He is a firefighter in town and was on his way to work. We spent our teen years raising hell. Drinking, girls, general mischief. We reminisced a bit about Halloween's past. In our early teens it was all about egging houses, soaping cars and TP ing trees. In our later teens it was all about drinking and throwing big parties. From 1982 till 1985 we had huge Romanesque Halloween parties in which the debauchery bordered on the criminal. I informed him that I was working the door for a huge Halloween UMass party tonight at my golf club and all he could say was "The more things change...".
The best book of all time about Halloween is "The Halloween Tree" by Ray Bradbury. I have spent the past month reading a chapter or two every other night to my boys. Although they are too young to truly appreciate Mr. Bradbury's tale of eight boys who travel through time looking for their sick friend while visiting Halloween celebrations during the past 4000 years, they were enthralled, nonetheless. I will read them the last chapter tonight after Trick Or Treating and before I head out to work that party.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween and don't worry about me, I'm not afraid of naughty nurses, sexy witches, wild ho's or lady cops in short shorts, well... maybe the wild ho's