One Year Later

If I seem a little MIA lately, I apologize. I’ve been pretty busy since mid-May and traveling a lot between a destination wedding, Memorial Day and unfortunately, the passing of my Pepere last night who I was really close with. This post isn’t about death, but I need to say something first.

This is a photo of my Pepere and me (back of my head) on my wedding day. He had a stroke only a few months before and for no explainable medical reason he recovered from it more or less…and he was there for my wedding day.

This smile is what I will always remember. He was so happy to see me get married, as he had been asking me every time I called him, before I got engaged, when I would get married. He passed away almost exactly one year later after getting to witness my wedding, and he also got to see my cousin get married. We called ourselves the three musketeers because we spent almost every Saturday together for months and months while my Memere was sick. There will always be a very special bond.

Death sucks from the perspective of those here on earth. There is just no other way of explaining it. Thankfully, I had enough notice to get up to Bangor to say goodbye to him before he passed and even though he wasn’t awake he did press his thumb into my hand a few times, and he was surrounded by family. Maybe it was an involuntary reaction, but I choose to believe it was the only way he could communicate with us. I’m happy he’s finally back in Heaven with my Memere though, which he had missed so much since her passing in 2006. Days before he passed, he actually told my cousin he could almost reach her. True love for life-and beyond. With him we lost a lot of great stories, that smile, his stubborn brow furrow, his thick Franco-American St. John’s Valley french accent and a lot of our heritage (he was the last native French speaker in my immediate family). Though we lost a lot—I gained a lot more just by having him in my life for almost 28 years.

This post isn’t about death though, it’s about celebration. Celebrating one year of marriage and the beginning of another awesome journey that I hope my grand-kids will talk about fondly one day just like we talked about Memere and Pepere’s. It’s also a little about our Memorial Day trip, and just writing this is good for me since, if anything, I’m a creature of habit and getting back into the swing of things is always helpful to me (I’m actually heading into work later today, but I just needed the morning to wrap my head around things).  So without further ado…

One year ago, on May 28th, 2011 this happened:

This year, on May 28, 2012 we looked a little more like…er…this:

Well. We looked like that before the black flies really started getting us to a point we couldn’t ignore it anymore. Then we looked a little more like this:

So why did we look like that? One. We’re raging with high-class. Two. We were at camp, which is a Memorial Day family tradition. Camp for three days and no shower. Even though Andy’s sister and brother-in-law weren’t there this time around, it was still fun with his Dad, his Dad’s friend Jess, Casey (aka Tom Cruise) us, and the dogs. Since it was also Andy’s Dad’s (Bob) 60th birthday we threw him a little party and gave him gifts that were camp related.

Like a handmade spice box full of camp essentials from the Pangburns IGA in Millinocket, and Ben’s Shop and Save in Newport. By handmade I mean reused from a Penzey’s box of spices Bob gave us years ago. I’m sure someone must have made it, it just wasn’t us.

Or a sign for the outhouse (when you camp in the winter and plumbing can’t be used), I lovingly referred to years ago as “The Shitbox”, and Bob found it hilarious.

And since Bob is a meat lover, we gave him a double burger cast iron fire cooker I grabbed from Cabelas for use at camp, or other outdoor adventures.

Aside from the gifts, every Memorial Day weekend consists of a lot of heavy duty bug spray and the inevitable chewing of black flies (hello spring in Maine), and every year I attempt to use organic spray and it never works. I mean it works okay, but not well enough. So the general attire of a spring camp trip is pants tucked into socks, shirt tucked into pants, jacket with strings to go tight around your waist, wellies up to your knees, a hat, and a lethal dose of bug dope and/or headnet. I’ve got it down to a science at this point.  Now, these photos were a few years ago and I’m missing a hat but it about sums up camp wear for Memorial Day.

Or maybe this one does. Thankfully, July is much more likely to allow fishing in a bathing suit top or tank top.

Yeah, like you think I’m going to show you a photo of that. Unlikely.

So while we’re enjoying the bug laden atmosphere and getting almost completely rooked by the fish, Winnie and Rosie can’t get enough of the lake. There are times Winnie gets tired and we actually have to make her come out of the water.

She’s a smart one though – as long as she’s in the water, the bugs won’t be able to get her belly.

Primrose also got in on the action but while Winnie is our swimmer, Rosie is our “launcher”. If she can’t stand on a rock and launch into the water in a full belly flop, and/or has zero chance of getting to the item first, she has zero interest in retrieving.

Here’s the kicker. When we went to leave-guess which truck wouldn’t start? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t my father-in-laws, and it had all of our luggage in it. What you should understand is that our camp is miles (15+) down old logging trails, and calling the road to the camp a driveway is a misrepresentation of the word in it’s highest form. It’s a goat path on an angle you need a serious four wheel drive vehicle to get down.

After a long trip in one truck back out of camp, heading into Bangor to get a fuel pump, and filling the truck with tools we headed back into camp where the boys crawled under the truck and replaced the fuel pump. Right there in the woods. The first thing was siphoning out an almost entirely full tank of gas before jacking the truck up. Then they crawled under, got the job done and finally refilled it back up with 25+ gallons.

A couple hours later, we were all heading back out with Andy, the dogs and I in one truck and Casey in his-now in full working order. After dropping off one truck at my father-in-law’s house and then all piling into Casey’s for the two hour drive home the dogs decided sleep was in order.

I couldn’t have agreed more. It was a long day, but I have to say that our first wedding anniversary will always have a great story behind it.

And it’s one my Pepere would have laughed at had I been able to tell him.



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