I go back to a place in my mind where I keep memories like colored photographs of times when we were all together. God, I miss so many people.
It has been years since we’ve all sat at the table as a family. I miss those times but years have gone by. No wait, it’s been more like decades. Apparently, life happened along the way. A few of the chairs became vacant. Some people moved away. Some tried their luck on the other side of the country. Some passed and left an empty void, which could never be filled.
I like to think about the times when we were all together. I like to think about the family get-togethers that no longer happen. I swear, these were good times. In fact, they were the best times and some of the only memories I have of my family.
I have pictures of these get-togethers somewhere. I keep them all in a crate with boxes of little doodads from my early childhood. There are pictures of me when I was a very young boy. I used to be pretty cute too. However, I keep some of those pictures hidden of course because some of them are certainly blackmail material.
It occurs to me that I came from a different time. Sometimes, it seems like I came from a distant place or maybe I was born on a different planet. Everything is different now. People are different.
The styles and fashions are different. There were no real forms of technology. The word family seemed to have a different meaning where I came from.
I wonder if this place exists anymore. Or, is this just an outdated version of life that only exists in my memory. Or, maybe this is age. Maybe I’m just older and this is me approaching life and close to 50 years. I can say that yes, I put in some time at this place, I call Project Earth.
I go back to the place in my mind where I store my memories like colored photographs. I keep them like pictures of times when we were all together.
I can see my cousins, aunts and my uncle as they come through the door. I can see their smiles and almost feel their hugs. I miss this.
I can see the way we set up the tables; including the kid’s table, which was not really the kid’s table after a while. I was the youngest, by the way.
I was always in awe of my family. Maybe this was because I was so much younger. Perhaps this was because I saw them all as so amazing. It’s funny though. I never told anyone this before.
I never told my family that I thought they were all incredible. Some were inspiring to me, to say the least. Some were less than inspiring and we were less than close, but still, they were all amazing to me.
I think about the way we were when we were all so much younger. This is heartwarming and yet sad, bittersweet, painful and yet pleasing to think about my old memories.
I know we’ve all moved away. I know that some of my favorite people are gone now. They live someplace where the mail or the phone lines cannot reach. This is why I send messages out to the universe with hopes that I can reach them.
If I close my eyes and think, I can see the times we all sat together, I can see where everyone would take their usual seats. I can hear them in my mind. I can hear their laughter and the sound of plates being passed around the table.
And the food, ah, the food.
The whole house smelled from food. As a matter of fact, once the plates were passed around, the talking stopped so the eating could begin. And then the conversations changed and geared towards how good everything was.
I love these memories because they are perfect. They are the last of my family that no longer exists. These are my colored photographs, which I look through.
I look back with a sense of loving nostalgia. I think back about the way things were before the arguments or divorces changed the faces around the table. I think back to when we were all still so goddamned young. Mom was young. The Old Man wasn’t so old.
I used to listen to the stories about my family from before I was born. I used to wonder what the family gatherings were like when my Grandfather was still around. I never met him. I never met my Uncle Moey either. But I always wanted to.
I miss my family. Of course, I miss my Mother and Father. I miss my Grandmother. I miss Robbie and Christine. I miss Harry. He was funny. I miss Stanley. I miss Aunt Peggy. I miss Uncle Alan. I miss Aunt Sondra too. She was a second Mom to me. Ah, but this is life, which means it is inevitable that we live and we grow and as for what was, there will come a time when this will never be again.
Know what I miss the most about my family gatherings?
I miss when we all went around the room and told what we were most thankful for.
I wish I had the presence of mind to tell my family what I was truly thankful for, which is this. I am thankful to at least have this, my memory, which I keep like colored photographs, kept away as a special treasure in a special place, which I call my heart.
I often think back to when cousin Robbie passed. I think about the dream he had before he passed away. He told me about the bus.
Robbie told me, “I dreamt about a bus.”
Robbie said, “Your Old Man was driving it.”
He said “He was driving the bus. And he looked good too. Gram was there too and so was our Grandpa. They were coming to see me and they told me not to worry. “
Robbie said, “Your father told me ‘Don’t be afraid’ and that when I was ready, he was going to come and take me on the bus.”
I was there when Robbie told my Uncle Alan about the dream. He told Uncle Alan, “I think I’m going to go get on that bus now, Pop.” Robbie died shortly after.
I hope that bus looks the way I imagined it does. I always envisioned my Old Man looking young, nicely tanned as if he was on vacation. He was happy and dressed in some kind of white linen get-up. I see the bus as something of a classic and not some modern ride that we have now.
I picture a port or something like that, perhaps something that would look like it does down by The Keys in Florida. This is just a way station. This is all just a stopping point and someday, we will all be together again.
At least I hope so. I hope the bus and The Old Man and everyone I’d like to see is there, just waiting. The good thing about their wait is time is timeless to them.
However, time is not timeless for me. And I say this because I have so much more to do. I have so much I need to accomplish. And some day, I’ll fill them all in with hopes to make them proud. . .
At least, I hope so.
I miss the old days.
I miss the family meals and big get-togethers.
I miss the hugs and the bed in the bedroom where we piled all the jackets.
Somewhere out there . . .
I know that they’re there
So . . .
I’m sending this to them now with hopes they can hear and hopes that they all know how much I love them, miss them and how amazing they are to me.
PS: i’m not sure about your family gatherings but one of the things that was always said at my get-togethers is it ain’t a party until someone spills something (or breaks something).
I’m sure you have your own memories too, which you keep like colored photographs in your memory bank and thumb through them like a family album.
Sleep well, Pop.
And keep an eye over me please. Sometimes the waters get a little murky around my way.