Sunday, August 12, 2007
The boyfriend Duane and I--okay, we've been married for 36 years; I'm just trying for a little excitement here--took a trip down memory lane this weekend. His memories, not mine.

We went 250 miles to Rhodelia, Kentucky to the picnic at St. Teresa's Catholic Church. This is the parish where my father-in-law grew up, across the hollers from where my mother-in-law's family lived. We like to go to the picnic because Mom can't anymore. We call her while we're on the road and she visits "back home" vicariously, reminding us where to place flowers on the graves of family members long gone.

It was suffocatingly hot and humid, we were both tired from a week at work, and I wasn't prepared for anything special. Except for the food, of course. The food at St. Teresa's is superb.

But when we got there, we walked through the museum in the old school, seeing Flaherty cousins in class photographs and in a big writeup from a 50s newspaper when Duane's grandmother had only 84 grandchildren. We saw pictures of the priest who was my husband's namesake.

We laid down dimes for the cakewalk and I won within fifty cents, choosing macadamia cookies. It took the boyfriend more than a dollar, and he took a pan of brownies. We put our names on our prize sweets and left them on the front pew of the church where it was cool. When we went back to get them, someone had taken my cookies, and I wondered if God was reminding me gently that I did just join Weight Watchers--again.

There were reunions with cousins so long unseen that Duane didn't know them until someone took him around and introduced him. And reunions with cousins seen more recently but not on this common ground where they could say, "Remember when?" and they all would. Remember, I mean.

It was a lovely day despite the heat; the friendliness of the little parish made it so. As we drove away, we called Mom again, telling her who we'd seen and that there are no fresh graves in the little cemetery down at Ammons. I mentioned a name and she said, "Oh, my, I was in love with him," and she and I laughed long and loud in a way that women understand and men never will.

Duane and I talked about the day as we headed north, about the pleasure and sometimes the pain that nostalgia can bring. We laughed about the macadamia cookies and I ate one of his brownies.

And the memories? They're mine now, too.

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