June 15, 2014

A Tribute

Bumps and Grammy Ro with their namesakes Charlie and I
I spent the past two weeks in New England celebrating, remembering, and spending time with family. First stop was Cambridge, where we celebrated Charlie's graduation from Harvard with a Master of Arts in Urban Planning. I then got to spend a few days vacationing on the cape where I ate a plethora of seafood. I thought I loved steamers and lobsters a lot and then I met Patrick who can actually eat more of both than me. It must be a sign. Next, I headed to Vermont where I trained with the team Patrick is now coaching. It was a nice few days of hot and humid weather. Lastly, I traveled to New Hampshire for my Grandfather's memorial service.

My perfect world turned upside down this winter when my grandfather, Bumps, was slowed down by a brain tumor. I say slowed down, because Bumps is as stubborn as New England Yankee could possibly be and it really took a lot to slow him down. He entered the hospital just as I boarded a plane to Europe. Yes, I was a little scared for Bumps, but to be perfectly honest, Bumps is the strongest grandpa I have ever come across and I never imagined that anything could happen to him. As things progressed and I learned about the tumor, I did become frightened and I began to realize just how much my family meant as I was thousands of miles away in some hotel room, eating strange food, listening to people speaking strange languages, trying to race, but really just wishing I could be with Bumps, listening to his wise cracks and laughing at all the nicknames he had for the medical staff as I grew angry at my selfishness in always putting racing first. Bumps passed away halfway through January, just after Nationals and right before the Olympic Team was named, perhaps teaching me yet another lesson in finding balance in life and value in family.

I have been fortunate to not have experienced many deaths in my life, but as a result am still learning how to process and work through everything that comes with, which is why I have not mentioned Bump's passing until now. Led by Grammy Ro and Bumps's 60 years of marriage, my Mom's family has remained exceptionally close and tight knit down to all 12 of us grandkids. We all gathered this past weekend to remember Bumps and to share our love with each other. It was the first time in many years that we have been able to get all 12 Grandkids (and 1 great grand kid) in one place, which was something special and something I know Bumps was smiling about. As we sat in the pews of the church my parents were married in, all together, tears streaming down our faces, I couldn't help but think about just how amazing my family is. I had a few brave cousins speak, sharing many of our beloved memories of Granite, Bumps and Grammy Ro's home. Each one spoke gracefully and eloquently, undoubtedly making Bumps, a lifetime educator, proud. Looking around, I had a strong sense of pride as all 12 of us are accomplished, educated, driven, kind and loving, something that would only be possible with the guidance and support of grandparents like Grammy Ro and Bumps. Grammy Ro spoke last with stoicism only seen in Hollywood movies. I truly hope I have even the tiniest bit of both my grandparents in me and I too can live life anywhere close to the fullness Bumps lived his. It was one of the most difficult things I have done, but knowing I have such a strong and loving family made it so we could all get through and eventually move on to celebration: square dancing, laughing, and truly enjoying our time together. As I have moved myself into tears now, I will sign off with some pictures of my trip to New England.
Scholar Chuckles

Lady Slippers in full bloom at the Cape

Patrick indulging in steamers

We had some horseshoe crabs come to our beach to mate. The female is on bottom and she lays thousands of eggs in the sand that are then fertilized by the male. 

Doing a little training in Vermont

The Pond

I got to share a lot of my favorite places and memories with Patrick as he graciously joined me in New Hampshie. 


Looking towards Bump's many vegetable gardens

Bumps driving Millie with Mom, Char, and me in tow
Bumps teaching Char and I how to shuck corn
Bumps taking us to pick corn
The most picturesque barn in the world