I visited my daughter Josie at an off-campus apartment she shares in Kent. I packed several things they could use and while I gathered her mail and a book she requested from home, I threw in a couple of plastic shopping bags full of slightly used Halloween decorations that Kathie brought home from her school’s blood drive for the Red Cross.
Jo mentioned she might have a few friends drop by the Saturday night before Halloween. I knew she would either love the idea of decorating her apartment or reject the decorations, thinking I was crazy for bringing them. Happily, she went for the idea, quickly pulled them from the bags and let me help her hang streamers laden with spiders and ghosts, and cover her new table with a purple cloth printed with jack-o’-lanterns.
My dad, who went with me, watched as we quickly made the little place look festive. We took Josie to a late lunch and let her get back to schoolwork. Our visit was short but productive.
The round trip to Kent was nice for Dad. Since he drives himself everywhere, he rarely gets to enjoy the scenery as a passenger. While we took in the glorious fall day, Dad said he’d heard comments that this fall wasn’t as colorfully pretty as some years. We decided just the opposite. Because our weather stayed unusually warm for much of October, true, many leaves were still green, but because we’d had no frost yet, most of them were still on the trees making the fall colors stand out against the green — to us more colorful than ever.
As if eating out once a day wasn’t enough, we picked up pizza on our way home and met my brother, Tom, at Dad’s house. After our pizza party, we went through a few boxes Dad brought home from his sister’s after she died. They had been sitting for months in Dad’s garage. My aunt had saved family bibles (one from the 1800′s), a few mementos, and a wealth of old pictures.
Most of them were of his step-dad Ernest Chamberlain’s family. A few of them had names scrawled on the back, but most of them were not identified. I grabbed a pencil and wrote names on the backs of the ones Dad recognized.
Ernie was the only father my dad remembers, and, as he puts it, the best dad he could have ever asked for. I’m thankful we have photos of his family. Grandpa Chamberlain was the best grandpa I could have ever asked for. In fact he was a lot like Mark, the guy I married.
I like to connect the dots between generations. I encourage you to go through your own family photos and memorabilia with as many generations as you can bring together. Writing down what you can about them might make a helpful difference for someone someday.