More Visitors, “Down the Shore,” St. Mary’s Cemetery and Happy Birthday, Jack!

Wednesday my cousin Patsy came over and we had a great visit talking about her mom, my Aunt Liz, who was quite a character, and stories about my Grandpop Rice, whom I never knew (he died when I was a baby). Patsy and her sister Pennie were supposed to come to our gathering the night before but Pennie ended up in the hospital with a mini-stroke! We were shocked and unhappy about that but I think she is doing okay now, thankfully.

Later in the day, my nieces Abby, Alex and Becca came by to see us and we had fun catching up with them before Alex had to go to work.  They are all smart and funny and I was grateful they took time out of their day to come see their old aunts and uncle.  🙂

In the evening we went to see my aunt and uncle.  Sadly, my uncle has Alzheimer’s and is not doing well.  It was hard to see this once talkative, interesting man sitting quietly at the table, unsure who any of us were.  What a shitty disease.  My aunt seems exhausted although she does have help from family and hired staff, but I imagine nothing is enough to make a person feel un-overwhelmed.  I didn’t have the heart to take a photo.

Thursday morning, Mom and I drove Kathi to the airport in Philly as she headed back to San Antonio.  We came home and showered, had lunch, and packed up to go down the shore overnight.  I love the way New Jersey folks say “down the shore” instead of “at the shore” or “to the shore.”  Just one of those little colloquialisms that make me think of home.  My brother Joe and his family had rented a house in our favorite spot, Ocean City, earlier in the week so we wanted to visit.  We missed Joe and Denise’s oldest daughter Nicole and her husband Tyler because they had to get back home to Jackson Hole but their other daughters Ellie (and new husband Blane) and Brooke were there, as well as Denise’s parents and her aunt.  We spent yesterday afternoon and evening sitting around chatting about family stuff and restaurant stuff and our favorite Springsteen stories and the inevitable debate about politics, which stayed friendly at least.  LOL   We all went out for drinks and dinner and continued our conversations, then I insisted on going to the boardwalk to get frozen custard–no trip to the shore is complete without frozen custard!  We also stopped in the iconic Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy store and bought some taffy for ourselves and for gifts.

This morning Rich and I took a walk on the beach, took pix and collected shells and rocks to take back to the grandkids.  We said our goodbyes and went for lunch at Kessel’s Korner (where we had cheese steaks, which completed my trifecta of NJ food: hoagie, pizza, and cheese steak), then drove back to Mom’s.  It was a good time all around and I am glad we were able to get together.

After visiting Rich’s family in Arlington National Cemetery, I started thinking about going to my dad’s grave, which I had not seen in many, many years. I am not really someone who places a lot of meaning in visiting graves but I felt some sort of urge to do it this time.  Mom, Rich and I drove to St. Mary’s Cemetery and found the multi-person grave where Mom’s parents and grandparents are buried along with my father (and Mom will eventually join them).  Of course, seeing their names brought back many memories of Dad, Grandmom and Grandpop.  I have a vague memory of my great grandfather when I was very small but I did not know my great grandmother at all.  I was not really sad, just interested in seeing the spot where they were laid to rest. It was odd that I didn’t really remember the cemetery or the plot looking anything like it did. I think I have a warped memory of my dad’s funeral because I was pretty young (18) and traumatized at the time.  Mom reminded me that it was raining the day of Dad’s burial and my primary memory of that day is the piercing sound of the 21 gun salute.  Mom then told us that my Uncle Kirby is buried in the same cemetery so we went to find his site, and she said that my dad’s mother was also buried somewhere in the old part of the grounds so we searched quite a bit and found her grave as well.  I think it was the most moving to me seeing HER grave because I never knew her (she died when my dad was a baby just over a year old) and don’t know much about her so it actually made her more real to me.  I was named after my grandmother and her grave reads “Jane M. Rice,”  which was a little eerie.  Also, we realized she has the same birthday as my eldest niece Kristinn, something none of us seemed to know before.

After our busy day, we are just hanging out at Mom’s tonight.  Meanwhile, back in Texas, our sweet boy Jack turned 2 on the 20th and had a fun birthday party today. I hated to miss it!  He’s our little love!  Happy birthday, Jacky!

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