My daily snapshot of Robert’s and my 2023 trip to get away from Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebrations.
We started off the day in the cabin with beyond-delicious molten center brownies we had gotten in Savannah at our new favorite bakery, Sweet Patricias.
Bloated, we headed about an hour away to my small hometown of Ball Ground and the town cemetery where my parents are buried.
For as long as I can remember, having been taught by my folks, I have enjoyed “decorating the graves” of family members. Each changing season and holiday would find us heading to the various cemeteries and graveyards, spending time reminiscing and laughing at wonderful memories.
After a great lunch at a local meat and three, Robert and I spent a little while at Ball Ground’s small but beautiful botanical garden.
Here’s a bench in honor of my dad.
On the way back to our state park cabin, we stopped by the Georgia National Cemetery. I guess today we were thinking about those who have gone before us.
We left in great admiration and respect for our military service men and women.
Back at Red Top Mountain, HR grilled hotdogs, then we rested by the fire.
One of the unexpected joys of living in Savannah’s Historic District, just a couple of blocks from the mighty Savannah River, has been regularly seeing (and hearing) the massive cargo and container ships making their way into our busy port.
The Port of Savannah, the nation’s third largest seaport, is special because the ships leave the Atlantic Ocean, navigate their way inland about 15 miles to downtown Savannah, and pass directly in front of our busiest tourist strip on River Street …
It’s always fun to be on a walk along the river when a huge ship comes into view and watch the shell-shocked tourists gaping at the ships’ sizes.
Here’s a short video from last year when the largest container ship EVER came to Savannah.
And here are a few random shots of ships Robert and I have enjoyed seeing as we walked along the river.
Just the other night …
But, perhaps somewhat weirdly, the greatest Ship Joy of all to me is SOUND.
Robert and I will be in bed (most commonly with HR peacefully asleep and me slowly, slowly heading in that direction). But all of a sudden I will hear it. And perk up. Sometimes even sit up.
From a few blocks away, down on the river. The night ships. The sonorous, plaintive, somehow both exuberant and unexplainably sad horn, sounding from the ship, finally, finally making its way, exhausted, from who knows where into our little city … and past the sleepy little dwelling of Neal and HR.
And somehow, that sound, time and time again, makes me realize that we can get from Where We Are … to Where We Need to Be. To a port of rest, to a place of quiet. To a place of, at least temporarily, no more movement.
Since we’re nearing Mother’s Day 2022, here’s an old post from back in 2012 about the power of motherhood. Both my parents have since passed away.
“Mama.” Perhaps no other word in our language evokes such tender and loving feelings.
My mom turned 85 on May 2. Here she is with my dad (88). They have been married for 65 years!
If I had to answer the question, “Neal, what’s the greatest lesson your mother has taught you in life?” I would have NO problem at all answering. I learned the lesson so, so early: the power and authority of humor and laughter. Some of my greatest memories growing up consist of roaring with giggles and laughter at some of the silliest things. My mother is a master at seeing the lightness in situations.
The Christmas when I was about six, I asked for a real juke box, and FOUND IT it my parents’ bedroom closet on Christmas Eve. Mama thought it was hilarious when I started yelling in confusion, “WHY is my juke box in your closet??!!” She said, through fits of unrestrained laughs, “Santa wanted your dad and me to try it out first.” (That Christmas began my distrust of Santa.)
Or the time when I asked for (and finally got) a rocking chair for my sixteenth birthday (don’t judge me), and she (like you probably) laughed and said, “WHO wants a rocking chair on their birthday?!” I still get teased about that very practical and emotionally calming gift.
Or her ongoing confusion with the words “veterinarian” and “vegetarian.”
Or the Christmas when I was about eight and had this obsession with making sure the ornaments were placed perfectly (in my opinion) on the live tree branches. I had gone to bed, but thought that maybe I should check the tree one more time for spatial accuracy of the bulbs and tinsel. A big round glass ornament on a limb just out of my reach needed attention. Reaching up, I grabbed the branch, too hard, and pulled the ENTIRE tree on top of me, electric lights and all. Screaming in holiday terror, I flailed at the evergreen monster till my mom and dad ran into the living room. I distinctly remember my dear mother hooting with laughter and saying to my dad (far too loudly), “Just look at what Neal’s done now!”
Or her ongoing advice throughout the decades: “It’s really not that important, Neal. You’ll laugh about it soon.” And I usually did. (Except for early Christmas memories.)
What an incredible privilege and joy to have a mother who taught me when I was younger and who continues to teach me to this day that happiness is a choice. That laughter is an answer, a solution, a medicine. That humor is a gift to get and to give.
My advice on this glorious Mother’s Day: Don’t wait till your mom and dad walk out of your lives forever to tell them, show them, how very much they mean to you and how much you love them.
HAPPY, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 2012!
I dedicate this beautiful version of the song “Mama” by Il Divo to my mom and to yours. And remember to tell her now!