This past summer was such an awesome summer for so many reasons. I’d like to describe them, all the great things that happened. But it was sad, unfortunate, really, that Pasha couldn’t be here for them. I know he would have loved them and had fun, and it would have been good for him to get to know America and get to learn our local history, to spend time with me and my family and strengthen his English. But, as much as I missed him this summer, I managed to transcend my grief, to realize that every moment counts, to accept each moment for what it is, joy and sorrow simultaneous, and to live life to the fullest, because these little moments, they’re all we’ve got. Each little choice, each day . . . they’re only one small part of us, but they do add up to who we are and how we spend our life. Plus, it was easy to transcend grief and missing someone when you know you’ll see him again soon.
Here are some of the reasons summer 2013 was the best summer ever:
I got home on July 3rd. I was back in the USA for independence day! I spent it seeing fireworks with my Aunt Polly and cousins and friends. It was so good to be back!
I got my wedding dress – 3rd time’s a charm. Pasha had proposed June 1st and I was dying to go dress and ring shopping, but knew for the dress at least I really had to wait till I got back to the US. I went shopping with my Mom first, and we planned to go to David’s Bridal, and we had called but not managed to set up an appointment. When we got there, it was touch-and-go. Turns out they couldn’t get us in. No worries. We called my brother Paul and he looked up the nearest wedding dress shop, and it turned out to be right around the corner! It was called “Frank’s Bridal.” No joke. We couldn’t get into David’s, so we got Franks. I tried on dresses for the first time with just her! It was awesome. But di din’t find “the dress.” The second time was later on when my sister and her family made a trip up here to visit us. By the way, MY SISTER AND HER FAMILY MADE A TRIP UP HERE TO VISIT US! That’s a whole separate reason for this summer’s awesomeness.
The next wedding dress try-on was at another privately owned boutique, this time in Canesteo. It was Me, Mom, Polly, Ruth, Dylan, Chloe, Phyllis, Michelle and her little one Cora. It was fun again! But again, I didn’t find “the dress.” By now I was feeling that I was starting to bother people with all this shopping, and I preferred to do some shopping on my own. No pressure. On me or anyone else! So I went to explore a little place I knew about, literally a trailer off the side of the road, and there I found a dress that really stuck in my mind. It was at the very top of my price range, but as it sunk in I realized that was the one I wanted. I could really see myself getting married in it! So mom bought it for me.
Shortly after I got home, it was time to go to the Thousand Islands on vacation with my brother, sister and dad to see my relatives on that side of the family. It was beautiful! We stayed on the American side this year, in new houses we’ve never rented before. They were houses, not cabins. I roomed with Paul and I was so happy to see him. I adore him! We played cards one night with everyone and I kept having to stay up later and later because, although I won one of the games, they kept wanting a re-match! I kept teasing my brother as hard as I could in front of my aunts and uncles. We ended up staying up till 4:00. I also went swimming a lot, as one is wont to do in the Thousand Islands, and it was so refreshing and cool! How fun to see all my cousins again. They’re all so big and getting so grown up and mature. Of course I love spending time with my sister too and I got to see and play with and take care of Dylan and Eddie while I was up there. One time Dylan and I went to the beach, just she and I. It was so nice! I helped her swim, and we played in the sand. They have a little cove where they dump truckfulls of sand. How special for me to spend time just with her. And of course it was great to see my dad, who hadn’t seen me much in years as well, because I’ve been in Russia. I also showed off my new engagement ring to all the family :)
At some point in the trip my mom showed up, and we went across the border to boat out to Idle Wylde to visit Tom. It was sad. But good.
After the trip to the Thousand Islands, the next big trip I made was to Florida to see the children (my niece and nephew). Mom and I drove there and back in the end of July to the beginning of August. Again, what an unforgettable trip. When I got to the door of my sister’s house, I could hear Dylan on the other side. She was all excited. Damien was saying “open it and see who’s there.” She opened it and saw me, looked past me to mom at the car by the curb, and screamed, “May May!” She ran to her. It was bittersweet. I understand, though. During our time there we played a lot with both the kids. We brought them presents. Eddie was walking and running around. Earlier, I think it was last Christmas when I was home from Russia, I had seen him take his very first moment ever of standing up without holding on to anything. He was standing by a table holding onto it; he had a toy in one hand and wanted another toy on the table, so he let go and grabbed what he wanted. It was so cool. I turned to my sister and said, “did you see that?”
Later, when mom and I had driven back trip to New York, there were so many great moments as I spent time with Mom and Grandpa. I remember all our trips to Hornell to Lowe’s (and Friendly’s (yum!)) to buy flowers and gardening stuff, working on building the pond in his backyard and getting the fish for it! Mom was so excited. She was like a child with enthusiasm for those fish!! We got five, but one ended up disappearing. A bird? Cat? We’ll never know. I got to name one of the fish: Brunhild! And choose a couple of the fish themselves, too! Pick them out, that is. Now those fish are in a tank inside for the winter.
And speaking of swimming, I got to do that several times this past summer in Polly’s pool, an outdoor pool on the top of that hill with a great view, under a sunny blue sky. Often then I, and whoever was with me, mom, Polly, Kay, etc., would get into the hot tub to warm up afterwards.
Another great adventure we had this summer which was very important to me was riding the Lockport Locks http://www.llecc.com/ - a boat trip on the Eerie Canal. It was really fun. You go through two locks, these big “rooms” along the canal made of gigantic iron doors. They come in sets of twos. When the boat gets in one, you wait 10 minutes or so until the water dramatically rises or lowers, 25 feet. Then you sail on! Pretty neat. It was especially important for our family because my Grandpa used to man cargo ships on the great lakes, and sometimes rode on the canal! We got to hear “the song,” (She’s a good old worker and a good old pal…,) and learned a lot of interesting things. I especially wish Pasha could have been there for that, because it is local history and I know he would have valued and enjoyed the experience.
Well, believe it or not, on a shoestring budget, I actually got to Florida twice this summer! The second time was with my Dad to celebrate his 60th. That was sometime at the beginning of September. It was me, Ruth, Damien, the kids, Paul, and Dad. We watched the Notre Dame game, all wore the shirts he gives us every year, and we kids paid for his ticket. As it turns out, we were able to go venue hunting! Dad was more excited about it than I or Ruth! Of course, so sad, really touch-my-heart sad that Pasha could not be there for that. It’s his wedding! But as sad as I was about that, I didn’t let it spoil a great time with my family. Ruth, my official wedding “coach,” Paul and dad went with me to St. Augustine to scout out venues for my wedding. It was great fun! We saw at least three viable options and I ended up choosing one of them later. Ruth knew all the right questions to ask and how to calculate booze costs. Actually, she did all the math, on the spot, without a calculator, to give me a good idea of the bottom line for each venue! It was awesome. Dad made a super surprise announcement that he’ll be paying for a big chunk of the wedding costs, as did my mom earlier, neither of which I expected, [neither of which they can afford,] and for which I am unspeakably grateful.
Another great adventure was going on “safari” with Polly, Kay, Sarah and the kids. Polly called me up and before I knew it, I agreed to go on a day trip with her to Hidden Valley. There were trolley rides through the park where you saw up-close and got to feed a lot of different animals. We took pictures. And had lunch. http://www.hiddenvalleyadventure.com/home.html
And the last wonderful adventure we had this past summer - although that was more towards fall - was finding the Ledges with Grandpa. The Ledges is a place he used to go to with his cousin Milton as a kid. He was a year younger than Grandpa, who was maybe 14 or 15 at the time. It’s about a 25-minute drive from our house. It’s in the woods, along a stream. It goes back and back, and the further you go, the higher the edges get, until they are very high and rocky on both sides. At one point we saw a great blue heron fly straight down the ledge, along the stream. Here are some pictures.