Home > Uncategorized > The family visit winds down

The family visit winds down

After my father’s memorial service on Thursday, the various members of my family went on their way at various times.  The two couples went on their way the next morning, but Aunt Shirley was staying in town for a school reunion over the weekend, and Uncle Clarence and Cousin Cynthia (Shirley’s brother and daughter, respectively)  stuck around through Friday.   The three of them invited me to meet them at the Graeter’s in my old neighborhood for ice cream.  It turns out that my grandparents on the Bennett side met over pistachio ice cream on August 12 (the same day as my father’s memorial), so that day is sort of celebrated in the family (some branches, at least, since I never knew about it) as Pistachio Ice Cream Day.  The relatives were rather upset to discover that Graeter’s doesn’t serve pistachio, at least not locally, but we did the best we could.  We got mint chocolate chip (or chocolate mint chip, as Graeter’s calls it), which at least is green like pistachio, although Graeter’s doesn’t dye it anymore so it’s only very vaguely greenish at best.  Oh, well.  At least it tasted good.  And it happened to be Free Cake Friday, so we got free slices of cake with our ice cream!

Afterward, the four of us went around to look at old family landmarks in that part of town — including one of mine, since it happens that the same block in Hyde Park holds the house where my father and his siblings lived for part of their childhood and the house where I lived from age 10-26.  The folks who moved into my old house have really changed it — the second-floor porch is now just a roof, there’s a driveway and a huge pine tree in the front yard, and there’s an extension on the back.  We also drove by Shirley’s old high school.

So Clarence and Cynthia went back to Detroit after that, leaving just Shirley in town.  So on Saturday, I showed her around a few more landmarks in my current neighborhood, including my father’s high school (Hughes), an apartment right across from it where my grandparents lived when I was small, and the Indian restaurant that used to be the apartment my parents lived in before they had kids.  We drove around the University of Cincinnati for old times’ sake, but there’s not much on-campus access for cars that aren’t supposed to be there, so we basically just drove around the perimeter.  Then we went to Burnet Woods again and took a look at the duck pond there, which wasn’t as nice as it is at other times of year, since there were no ducks and a lot of algae.  Still, we saw some dragonflies.

Then Shirley wanted to go to Eden Park near downtown, which contains a scenic overlook she wanted to see, as well as such local institutions as the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Krohn Conservatory, and the Playhouse in the Park.  I kind of remembered how to get there, though I hadn’t gone there in ages, so I used the GPS in Shirley’s car to double-check, and then to navigate around the park.  It took some driving around, but we eventually found the overlook, and it was worth it.

One thing Shirley was specifically looking for was a statue of Romulus and Remus, and we found it.  It was apparently donated by the government of Rome, due to the historical connections between the cities.  (In addition to Cincinnati being named for a Roman ruler, we’ve often been called “The City of Seven Hills,” even though we have a lot more hills than that.)

After  Shirley drove me back homeward, I showed her the little park where I do a lot of my thinking.  Not as impressive as Eden Park, but it means something to me.

Anyway, it was a heady few days, an invigorating experience having the family around, and a great comfort in this time of loss.  But once it was over, I started to feel rather sad all of a sudden.  Partly I guess that was the inevitable letdown after such an intense few days, but mainly it’s that I’m now all by myself, the only member of the family left in Cincinnati.  I no longer have my father around to keep me company.  And that’s something I should be sad about.  I’m sure that sadness will be coming and going for a long while — not a constant or overwhelming thing, since life goes on with all its highs and lows and in-betweens, and since I was able to work through a lot of it over the past few weeks when it was clear the end was inevitable, but something that will continue to be a part of my life.

But now I have renewed contacts with the family I’d let myself become too cut off from, and I’m glad of that.  And I’ll be able to look back on the summer of 2010 as a time containing happiness and warmth as well as grief and loss, a time of change both negative and positive.

However, now I need to get back to work.  I had to struggle a bit to  get a decent amount of work done over the weekend, due to the family events and my sad mood afterward, but I’ve done a good day’s work today and may even get some more in before bed.   I should get on with that.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Barrie Suddery
    August 17, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Cincinnati looks like a lovely place to live. I especially like the statue of the Romulus and Remus legend.

    I’m guessing there’s quite a bit of historical inspiration you can put into your novels.

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