A day that started out feeling like Christmas and a family reunion rolled up in one, ended as a grateful, but bittersweet one. Each item told stories and held reminders of my parents who are gone.
I photographed pictures in my parents' wedding album.
It was especially touching to see my dad's name preceded by a junior officer rank on the back of a couple of things I brought home. I can picture he and Mom packing up their few things as a young married couple, not long after he graduated from the Naval Academy, and setting off on their new life. Little did they know how many children they'd accumulate along the way nor where that twisted path would lead. This is the back of my parents' first bed. Now it's mine.
This passel of ragamuffins, sitting on my newly acquired bed while it lived in Virginia Beach, is part Kirkpatrick and part Denton.
My second round pick was the kitchen table. My mother bought it at a junk shop in Oceana and my godmother, Helen Sullivan, painted it.
"Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts..."
Another festive gathering at Watergate Lane - my father's absence cast a long shadow on the table.
I also brought home some of that china. It reverberates with the sound of long ago Thanksgiving Day television football announcers.
Billy, Jimmy, Jerry, me and Michael on my eleventh birthday. It was probably at about this time that Jimmy carved his initials into the table, making it the iconic family piece that it is.
I think that mounted bass over Jimmy's shoulder is still available and can be found at Climatrol storage in Williamsburg. It comes complete with the story of Joshua, the monster bass that got away. I have a policy about dead animals as decoration that even the memory of fishing with my Dad in Kingston before there were paved roads, in the few short months he lived on Watergate Lane prior to Vietnam, didn't entice me into taking that fish home. That bass reminds me, too, of the most terrifying ghost story I've ever heard, told on that dirt road, in the dark. I still look over my shoulder and think of sometimes.
Mary and me
This one of my aunt and cousin with Mary Beth showcased my Mrs. Sullivan's handiwork well. The chairs came from Rose's Dime Store and are still in perfect condition fifty years later.
At Fowl River...