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This past Saturday, the family celebrated Mom’s birthday by doing one of her favorite things.

We headed out for a day at the lake.

Independence Lake is one of those places that we would go to regularly over the years. Sometimes it was a Memorial Day or Labor Day. Other times it was for a birthday.

Last weekend was her birthday weekend. Dad and I planned the event, and my wife planned and prepared the meal (although I do admit that it was a bit strange not having Mom’s input as to the food or a strong reminder to keep it healthy). My Brother and Sister were there with their families, as was my own.

We are determined to stay close as a family. Mom had always wanted it that way, and even in her absence, it’s the one thing that we all work on maintaining. This picnic at the lake is a testament to that desire.

My wife Jean (as she’s referred to in Mom’s book) took on the bulk of the food prep and grilling and even made sure to have coleslaw the way Mom used to make it. Jean had been up to one or two the night before making delicious food, like her special hamburgers that were so big and juicy, they resembled meatloaf in a hamburger bun, but not as healthy as Mom would have liked (although no one complained). She even made sure to get Doctor D (My nephew’s gaming handle) some of those spicy sausages he likes, but I stole one of them. ;D

Doctor D waiting for the food to get done.

The kids spent a lot of time hunting around the shoreline looking for rocks and snails. Izzy even got herself a crayfish from under a rock. Dad brought some really nice fishing nets the kids used to sift through sand and pebbles to find the snails.

Dad and my sister took a long walk out on the boardwalk and around the perimeter of the park, just as he and Mom used to do.

L to R: My nephew and sons hunting around for snails.

We ate, laughed and had a great time, just as it was when Mom was there with us, and even though she wasn’t with us, it didn’t really feel like she was gone. It’s really interesting that even when someone is gone, there can be times when it still feels like they’re there, even when you can’t see them.

For us, the day was about having some fun, doing something that Mom really liked doing as a family, and creating new memories for all of us.