Shinybass journal entry 08/26/17
It was a wonderful, joyous event and one more distinguished and rare as I’ve ever seen. With ‘throw away’ marriages on the rise, and the scales of divorce tipping a lifetime of matrimony the wrong way, the chances of a couple enjoying anniversaries in the double digits are becoming the exceptions, not the norm. If you make it to 25, it’s almost a small miracle. 50th anniversaries are more rare than White Buffalo sightings.
Try a 70th wedding anniversary.
That’s what we just experienced in Cumberland, Maryland. My great Aunt and Uncle were wed when gas was only $.15 a gallon we only had 48 states. They were married in 1947, in a little town called Garrett, PA, with my Great Uncle fresh from the bloodied fields of Italy and then the peacekeeping force in Japan (he still has the brand new rifle from the Japanese armory). To say these two have kept it together is an understatement. They had 2 children, who went on to give lots of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now adding one more ‘great’ to the name, which, I suppose is about as great as life can get. My Great Aunt is my Dad’s aunt, and the last link we have alive to the Cook family of that generation.
As a boy, our summers were filled with two major trips: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and a trip to Pennsylvania, where we would go see both my Mother’s mother and my Dad’s folks. Grandma Scotti lived in Pittsburgh, and my Dad’s parents lived in Garrett, PA, a sleepy little town nestled in a holler that has no grocery store, no stoplight, a bank and a post office. The bank shut down (as I just found out), and in a little 2-room apartment above the bank is where my Grandma and Dad lived while my Grandpa was off winning the war (his words) in both the European and Pacific Theaters.
Garrett was a magical respite from my normal life. It had a creek, busy train tracks, old coal roads to explore, and it was safe enough that we could ride around town on bikes and Mom wouldn’t have to worry too much. We went on long walks with Grandpa to see the covered bridge, the old school, and the house where my Dad was born (at the dinner table, mind you) and heard all the stories that an ancestral town can hold. The Cooks have been in that part of PA for a couple hundred years, and whereas we aren’t a wealthy family, we do appreciate our roots, and look toward our future.
As we all got older, things changed, of course. We didn’t get to visit as much as we wanted, and the relatives became less mobile. Once my old band was driving from NYC to somewhere in OH, I think, and I convinced them to stop a few miles from my Grandparent’s house. I was able to spend the night and catch up properly, and it was the first time I had been there without the rest of the family. The visits became almost yearly after that as a family member would pass, or when we moved Grandma out of the house that had been in our family for over 100 years after my Grandpa passed away.
Being on the road has its ups and downs, which sort of goes without saying, but over the past 2 decades of being out, I get ‘lucky bounces’ and the bus will end up a few miles from friends and family, allowing me to get some time in. About 2 years ago I was able to sneak off and see my great Aunt Doris and Paul, and at 90 and 92, I didn’t know when I would see them again.
As it turns out, I was able to get off work for this special weekend, and the family (mostly my cousins) pulled the event all together. Was it a pain? Of course, but you know, we bust ass to get to someone’s funeral, but we sort of take the rest of the days on Earth for granted. I am of course a huge family guy, and this job has been good to me in seeing my people (but for some reason we just don’t hit Georgia).
So we packed up half the house (actually we did fairly well for 2 kids and 2 adults), and flew up to Pittsburgh where we met my brother, and we mini-vanned it over to meet up with my Dad and another brother in Garrett, PA. We paid our respects at the cemetery, and saw the house where my Dad was born (he still says it should be on the registry of historic places…), and walked the streets with my boys and Dad just like we used to with my Grandpa when I was a boy. There were so many great moments in this trip, and this was a huge one for me.
It was also important because Maegan could finally see the towns of which I have often spoken, and see the places I played as a boy. And she had never been to this part of the country, so I think it was cool for her, too.
So we spent 2 days reminiscing, telling stories, eating, drinking, and doing what families are supposed to do. Henry stayed up way too late, and had his own queen bed. Miles was the hit of the party, just being as cute and cackley as ever. Again, the moments of my family seeing my boys, most for the first time, was amazing. To say it was a trip of a lifetime, well, that’s an understatement.
So for the many of you that have expressed that you missed me on that run, I sincerely appreciate it. Now you know why I jumped off the bus, and how important it was for me. We have to get those moments when we can, because they are not going to be here forever.
So now we’re back out, and we’ll get to those updates soon enough, but for now, enjoy the weekend!
I’ll see you on the road!