Editor’s Note – This was originally published in 2006.
I’ve been in a family mood lately.
Of course, I am grand patriarch to a modest brood (my son Colin, daughter Aria and two dogs of whom a paternity test has proven I am not the biological father but love all the same). Unless you’re some deadbeat who collects ’72 Novas in his front yard and downs Schlitz by the gallon while shouting to your kinfolk to “Git R Done!!!” – it’s hard not to feel in the family way most every day. All it takes is a turn into your driveway – on some cold winter’s day afterÂ the grueling grind at the ‘nine to five’ -Â where a quick peek at your front window reveals the silhouette of a head (or in my case four heads) peering out, awaiting your blessed return. A sight like that is guaranteed to pluck the heart strings.
So it’s safe to say that I’m a pretty happy family man. Of course, there are days where my children conspire to cash in my life insurance policy a wee bit early (those days are named Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). But the proper recipe for a good life calls for a little sour with your sweet. What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger. I hold onto the hope that I don’t die an 80 pound weakling. Anyone who has spied my Jabba girth of late (see pic above) knows I have nothing to fear.
The point is -Â newsÂ from the home front is good. For the purpose of this post, I toss my net a bit wider to focus on my extended family. As readers of this site know, my Dad got married to Missy about a week and a half ago. (“What’s that? Ed’s Dad got married? Twice?”) Don’t worry – this ain’t noÂ Big Love story. My Mom and Dad got divorced a long time ago. It was smack-dab in the middle of the 80’s. Mother Russia was still a force to be reckoned with, the Internet was barely a gleam in Al Gore’s eye and a young Balki Bartokamus was teaching the world how to laugh. So, my Dad’s recent wedding is completely on the up and up.
Anyway, it was during this wedding, as IÂ observed two large, extended familiesÂ join forcesÂ to witness my Dad and Missy’s marital union – as I reunited with some cousins I haven’t seen in half a decade – as I mixed it up with my PA-based sister Jenna, her husband Eric and my nephews Eric and MaKenna – as I joked with my sis Noelle who I see more often but not often enough – and as I mingled among a rogue’s gallery of friendly faces (some old friends – some brand spanking new) that it really hit me how much I miss the great varied group of people that exist and have resided in my life at some point.
It made me wish that Impossible Dream.
For me, that dream is of a life where every single person I’ve ever made a connection with – be they friend or family -Â never had to mosey on. I wish my life was so wide open – my responsibilities so few – time so malleable – that I had room enough to keep in touch with every single person that I’ve ever whiled away an afternoon engaged in the simple pleasures of good conversation. Whether it was a BBQ chat about the Sox and howÂ it might not be the Yankees thatÂ suck – or those vital whispers of encouragement on the eve of your wedding day – or those great midnight chats you have with your close friends and family, where the topics meander so far astray that you pray someone sketched a roadmap on a cocktail napkin so you can figure out what the hell you were talking about in the first place. It’s those people that I wish I never had to bid a fond adieu. Not even for an instant.
Of course, reality bites. Details of the dream are fleeting and by breakfast, it’s a distant memory. The euphoria you have when in the company of your beloved friends and family soon fades asÂ you merge back into the traffic of your everyday routine.
Last week,Â Jenna and her family rented a beautiful Cape house in Sandwich. They left the wedding and headed offÂ to their much deserved Cape vacation. Before we all parted ways at the tail end of that stunning Saturday, a plan had been inked. A good number of familial relations were planning on steering their cars southward for a little R & R that Friday. Originally, I had planned on working a half-day, then meeting up with Andi and the kids – and the rest of my clan – forÂ that late afternoon BBQ rendezvous.
When I got to work that Monday, I had a quick change of heart. The warm tidings of the wedding carried over and I was missing everyone something fierce. I decided to angle for the entire day off – late notice be damned. My boss is very accommodating, so I secured the day off very quickly. I’m glad I did.
As I stood with Aria in the cool, calm surf of their private beach -Â a father and daughter’s piggies available for the taking for any curious crabs that came sidling by – I reflected upon how good I’ve got it. I knew that that day – like the wedding on Saturday – like the birth dates of my son and daughter – like my wedding day to Andi – like my non-surprise Surprise 30th B-Day party at Vinny Testa’s – like my debut as Rooster Hannigan in AnnieÂ during my senior year at RHS – like every other day that I was reminded how blessed I am to have such a solid foundation of friends and family – that all these days must eventuallyÂ yield toÂ twilight.
And it’s in those dark hours – from dusk ’til dawn – where my precious memories live on.