Our son Will is hitting the road. Maybe you’d like to support him. Here’s his note.
This week’s KGUA radio writing prompt comes from the repeated words in last week’s submissions. The words that kept coming up again and again were: trust, passion, peace, end, love, give, life, free, youth, kindness, nature, faith, walk, time, courage, ammunition, people, conviction, black, drown, and potential.
Mark Gross, the KGUA writing leader, asked us to time our free write for ten minutes, limiting us to 200 words. We were to edit just for spelling and grammar, and send in the draft.
His directions were similar to what I did with seventh and eighth graders in Kittery, Maine and while leading the Teaching of Writing courses at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of New England. I would have a discussion, read a passage, or come up with a group activity. From those activities, I would have my students write for ten minutes to see if they found a topic to take through to a final draft in our writing workshop. Head down and trusting they’d write, I wrote along with my students.
Mark has given me a taste of my own medicine this week, and for that I thank him. I chose three words below to run with. The Walk draft aired on the KGUA Monday Morning Writer’s Hour on June 28, 2020 .
For the first time in six weeks, Hannah walked with me at the beach in Ogunquit, Maine. You see, six weeks ago to the day, Hannah had bunion surgery. First she was on crutches, then two weeks in a walking boot, and then wrapping her foot with surgical gauze twice a day in a hiking shoe.wa
Oh, she could move around the house, then our yard, but walking for more than twenty minutes…well she just didn’t want to risk screwing up the operation. It turns out she was walking on the side of her foot to protect her big toe. A no no.
But this morning, we woke at five, stretched, then a little after six drove to the wide sandy beach here on the Atlantic. Being low tide, we walked where the waves were rolling softly to the shore. She thought she’d go halfway, but then…distracted by the fog, stepping in and around the pools of salt water, we were thirty minutes down the beach before she knew it, nearly to Wells.
Pumped, she headed back into the wind full speed ahead. I’ve been listening to podcasts as I walk alone during Hannah’s rehab, but this was much better. Both the conversation and the silence.
Hannah and I are just back from Ithaca, New York where we met our granddaughters for the first time. Yes, granddaughters! Reese and Charlotte are our identical twins. In this crazy Time of Corona, we didn’t know if we’d even see them for six months or even a year! But when our son and his wife, a nurse no less, invited us to visit the girls three weeks after their births, we were all in to drive 400 miles to be with them.
When we arrived, mom and dad hugged us! Do you know how long it’s been since we hugged anyone else! Yeah, you do, it’s three months going on a year!
The girls mold together as they lie in their bassinet, just like they were in the womb. As I sat on the couch knees folded together, I held Reese as she lay sleeping. Yeah, they sleep a lot. Then they cry, then mom feeds them, sometimes at the same time, and then the girls sleep some more.
But after three days, they were looking around more and more, checking out their new world. I look forward to being a part of their lives for a long time.
I have to admit I never really got the white privilege stuff. As a kid, I was just a kid. What did I know? We did live in Radburn, a privileged part of Fair Lawn I learned later as a young adult, a pretty much all white community in north Jersey. We did take two family car trips to the West Coast. I just figured lots of kids did that.
My goodness, I played tennis! Is that ever a white man’s sport, even though the Williams Sisters took charge of the women’s game for the last twenty years.
I was just going through life. Living frugally on a teacher’s salary while Hannah stayed home with the kids. But then we moved from multi-cultural Arizona to white bread Maine. As such, there were not many families of color here that I knew. Without a second thought, our kids went to college, had careers.
Of late, I am aware that my white comfort is compromising the lives of so many fellow Americans of color. Now is the time to have the courage to admit my privileged status and do my part to even the playing field.
Hannah and I have just returned from four days with our new identical twin granddaughters, Reese (the older by six minutes) and Charlotte (the younger).
We had come to Ithaca, New York where our son Will and his wife Laurel live to support them all as they became the parents of three kids under the age of two.
Surprisingly, we could tell them apart. Reese has more hair and Charlotte has a rounder face. Without delay, here are Charlotte and Reese!
Having experienced the joy of youthful male testosterone with our three energetic grandsons,
Hannah and I welcome our two identical twin granddaughters to the fold – Reese Kathryn Rothermel and Charlotte Mae Rothermel.
Our son Will and his wife Laurel are ready for the ride of their life with three kids under the age of two. As grandparents, Hannah and I have won the lottery, again.
Reese arrived first at 615P on June 1, 2020 weighing in at six pounds eight ounces, stretching out to just over eighteen inches. Six minutes later Charlotte came barreling along at six pounds four ounces, a little lankier at nearly nineteen inches.
Let the pictures speak for themselves.
It’s Brooks Archer Rothermel Time! Last weekend, Hannah and I drove nearly 400 miles to Ithaca, New York to meet and greet our new grandson for the first time. FaceTime has been a valuable introduction to the little guy while we were home in Maine, but we are looking forward to some personal face time with our grandson. (You see what I did!)
On our first afternoon, Brooks basically slept, peeped a little to be fed, opened his eyes to look at Hannah and me with a WTF sweet look of contentment, and slept some more.
I have ten thoughts after time with Brooks and his world-is-going-to-be-rocked (in a good way) parents Will and Laurel.
From now on, their lives are no longer on East Coast time, but on Brooks Time. Things will take longer, the unexpected will become expected, and if they are late, they have one really beautiful reason why.
Though Brooks has slept reasonably well for his first three weeks, it’s often in two to four hour periods. He’s a baby. That’s what they do. That said, there still lie a lot of up-in-the-night nights for Will and Laurel. If our experience is any indication, Will and Laurel will be more tired than they have ever been in 2018.
Ever since June 24, 2018, Will and Laurel smile a lot, really beam.
They’ll be reading very little John Grisham. These are some of the titles on their coffee table – , The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary (a personal favorite of mine), Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get Both of You Through the Next 9 Months by John Pfeiffer, and The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp.
I don’t think it odd that Hannah and my youngest child, Will, is a parent. It’s time. Will is ready, willing, and able for the joy and for the challenge. His gentle, loving, caring nature is made for this opportunity. Brooks will be learning from a master how to mow the lawn and hit a 280 yard drive. On the other hand, Hannah and I will teach him how to dink and hit the third shot in pickleball.
Parenting for the first time is tough enough; and then they will be asked to learn on the fly and do it while they are as tired as they have ever been.
During the first two weeks of Brooks life, Will and Laurel were so pleased to get three hours of sleep at a time. Sleepless nights will come, this is when the strength of their marriage will be evident. From Maine, the marriage looks good and strong!
This is a note for all grandfathers – change diapers. Pop, you are a big boy. You can do it! It would be easy for me to let Hannah jump up to change Brooks’s poopy diapers. But if I do, I miss out on this opportunity to really help out and connect with Brooks. Let me report, I got down and dirty at changing time on multiple occasions.
I felt over-the-moon happy when Laurel handed me a fussy Brooks after she fed him. Seated at a stool at their kitchen island, I successfully helped the little guy mellow out as I rocked him and let him suck on his binky (i.e., pacifier). He fell asleep for an hour. Is this how rockstars feel?
Will and Laurel are getting a crash course in the value of a well-timed nap (which is anytime Brooks is asleep!).
Hannah and I know how fortunate we are to have healthy grandson with these two parents in our lives. They don’t live in Arizona or California or even Virginia. They are just six hours away. As retired folks, Hannah and I can be an active part in Brooks’ life.
They’ll do fine, some bumps, some jolts, lots of joy. Hannah and I are so pleased to be along for the ride.
Seven days before the due date of June 28, Laurel posted these pictures.
With five days til Will and Laurel’s due date (this past Saturday), we like that they have gone on “old school” and don’t know the gender of their new child.
Our three “old school” kids were all over the board when they decided it was showtime. Born August 5, Molly was three days early. Robyn was thirteen days late on September 7 and actually born on Labor Day. Will was three days late on October 12. Using higher mathematics by squaring the hypotenuse and dividing by the tangent, I came up with the calculation that their baby will come on our 46th anniversary – July 1.
Somehow my math didn’t quite an add up! My bad.
For later that Saturday afternoon, we get a text that Laurel’s water has broken. Below, the new parents are ready and waiting at the hospital.
Throughout the night the baby wasn’t quite ready to make an appearance. After a long night that rolled into Sunday morning, Brooks Archer Rothermel came into this world on June 24, 2018 at 8# 2 oz, 20.5″. (Archer is my mother’s maiden name and my middle name.)
We are top of the world!
Coming down the homestretch, our son Will and his wife Laurel are expecting their first child and our third grandchild on June 28. They are going old school and will learn the gender of their baby when their bouncing baby turns their world upside down.
Since Will and Laurel live in Ithaca, New York where he works in the athletic department at Ithaca College and she is a nurse at a local clinic, Hannah and I will travel 400+ miles from our home on the coast of Maine to meet our new grandchild; Laurel’s mom Sandy lives about the same distance away from Ithaca on Cape Cod. Fired up about the arrival of a new bambino, I ask you, who should be the first grandparent(s) to visit when the baby arrives? Sandy or Dan and Hannah?
Hannah and I vote for Sandy. We think it should be the mother of the new mother. Laurel will have gone through the wringer and would quite naturally be most comfortable with her own mom around as she regains her strength and deals with being a new mom.
We have family history on our side as precedent. When Molly gave birth to Owen in 2012 and Max in 2014 in Virginia 550 miles away from our home in Maine, her husband Tip, understood that Molly would be most comfortable with her mother (one Hannah Banana) during the days immediately after each of their son’s birth.
Certainly, if either family lived near to Virginia, they would go to the hospital and be a part of Opening Day. Since both sets of grandparents lived a good day’s drive away (Tip’s mom and dad also live nearly 550 miles from Virginia), Hannah and I were the ones who were first invited to come to Virginia to see our grandsons.
Funny, how the universe had other ideas.
As it turned out, Hannah fractured her tibia water skiing in Maine a mere twelve hours before Owen was born. As such, she and I weren’t able to travel for a while. But that’s beside the point. Tip got it! Molly’s mom was the first one to come to support his wife.
Back to Will and Laurel. A week ago, we received a sweet text from Laurel thoughtfully wanting to include us in the first days of the baby’s life.
Will and I wanted to offer that when we go in to the hospital for labor, that you are welcome to come and stay at our house, so you can meet Baby R when he/she is born. My mother will be here as well. We have decided to be just the two of us in the delivery room, but we would love to have you there soon after. We also understand if you’d like to wait until a later time, but the offer is there!
Laurel’s equally sweet mother-in-law Hannah responds to them after she and I talked.
What a sweet offer, Laurel! We do think we’ll wait a bit ~ til your mom has had her time with you and Baby R… maybe even give you a day or two to then catch your breath ~ and perhaps even a rhythm of sorts?! Of course, we’ll need/want pictures right away!! We SO appreciate your thoughtful offer to have us come right away. Hope this idea sounds OK to you, though. Meanwhile, each day closer to June 28th gets even more exciting… We LOVE the weekly update pictures of Baby R’s beautiful mom!
Mainers like Nolan are the reason people move to the Pine Tree State and spend their lives here, as Hannah and I have done for the past 35 years. When our friend George Derby got his van stuck in the mud of our side yard on a ping pong Thursday, I called Nolan to see if he could help us out. Fifteen minutes later, (15 minutes!) Nolan hooked up a heavy metal chain from his truck and pulled the van out.
When I asked Nolan how to best get rid of poison ivy along the road by our house, Nolan sent two of his Patten Ground Care employees to pull out the poison ivy for us. By the way, the two are Jamaicans (Donal and Dorant) who thanks to their body chemistry do not develop rashes from contact with poison ivy.
When Will was off at St. Michael’s College near Burlington, VT, Hannah and I bought a heavy-duty ping pong table from Dick’s Sporting Goods in Portsmouth. Having no way to get it to home and in need of some serious muscle, we called on Nolan who used his truck to transport it back to our place on Chases Pond Road and help me set it up.
And now with winter coming, Nolan is the first one on the scene when the big snows fall. Nolan makes it a priority to plow our 150’ driveway, shovel out the garage doors, shovel a 70’ path to our generator, and dig a path to the propane exhaust vent (which if not done, shuts down the heating to our house which causes our water pipes to freeze). He’s done this time and again when winter nor’easters come to York.
Nolan has looked after his best friend’s parents for a long, long time.
Friends since second grade, Nolan and our son Will played indoor soccer and youth basketball during their elementary school years. Will still thinks of the basketball coaching he got from Nolan’s dad John in sixth grade as the foundation for his success as a high school and college player.
Working side by side with Nolan, Will got his first full time summer job as a landscaper for Patten Ground Care, which lasted for eight years.
Years later in Virginia, Will asked Nolan to be his best man at his wedding to Laurel Ann near Richmond, Virginia. Months ago, Nolan returned the favor in kind by asking Will to be the officiant at his wedding to Kara on a late November Wednesday.
Though Will speaks regularly to groups of athletes and alums in his position in the Athletic Department at Ithaca College in central New York state, he has had no more important speaking engagement than for today’s Kara and Nolan Nuptials.
Pleased that Will asked for Hannah’s and my feedback on his speaking plan for the wedding, we are further gratified that his words are to keep the focus on Kara and Nolan, not on him, the officiant. We have been to weddings where the minister sadly makes it all about himself with his clever word play and dominating presence. Will gets it. It’s Kara and Nolan’s Day!
As the localest of local boys, Nolan (and Kara) have chosen the Foster’s Downeast Clambake in York Harbor as wedding venue. The Wednesday wedding is timed nicely for the kickoff of the Festival of Fostering Trees. Foster’s raises money to help kids who have not been adopted and have aged out of the system. In lieu of presents, Kara and Nolan have asked guests to donate to the Foster’s program.
Come 530P on November 29, 2017, with Will and Nolan waiting at the front of the hall, Kara and her dad come down the aisle. A hundred plus have gathered on the benches at Foster’s to hear Nolan and Kara’s story of finally making it to the altar after 16 years.
Eloquent and brief, Will sets the stage.
The purpose of a partnership is to create something greater than we can create alone. Not because of any deficiency or incompleteness, but because each of us is unique, with our own talents and abilities. In partnership, we improve the opportunity for creating something meaningful together.
With Kara’s sister Bethany reading an email Nolan wrote to Kara and then Nolan’s brother Travis reading an email that Kara later wrote to Nolan, the ceremony is touching and personal. Standing in front of Nolan and Kara, Will ends with some of my favorite lines ever to conclude a wedding service.
Before we send you on your way, I would first like you both to savor this moment. Not just the feeling of immense love for one another, but the feeling of love and support from those gathered here today. It is a true testament to what you mean to the people in your lives.
Kara … Nolan—I could not be more excited for you to write this next chapter of your lives together. And with that, it is a distinct honor to pronounce you husband and wife.
And it’s all a wrap in 15 minutes. Is that a crowd favorite or what!
The reception right here at Foster’s is equally cool with lobster rolls, clam chowder, fruit, cheese and crackers all washed down by champagne, wine, or beer. Though there are tables for sitting, this reception is not a sit-down affair served by wait staff. People can move around easily to connect and reconnect with old friends. It’s relaxed and comfortable and so fits who Kara and Nolan are.
The best of it all for Hannah and me is to see the genuine love and affection Nolan and Kara show to each other throughout the evening. Smiles, holding hands, looking at each other and listening when the other is talking. This evening Hannah and I see the embodiment of love in Kara and Nolan.