Sunday, January 17, 2010


When I got married I began to lose track of my family rituals. My brother, my mother and I would no longer spend holidays together. I still miss our Christmas Eve chili dinners.

My ex has a large extended Catholic family and my tiny little family was completely swallowed by them.

My mother, though not entirely comfortable with it, would come to the new gatherings. My brother very rarely did. When he brought his girl friend Gwen to one of the large gatherings he would always introduce her as his wife. I think he just thought it would be easier for this very straight group of people to handle. They had already been living together for 10 years.

My son Dylan has always felt the absence of my dad almost as much as I have. He wanted more family from my side. He was very excited to learn I still had a living uncle. He was probably around five when he found my uncle Bill’s address on the Internet. After composing a long (to him) letter he sent it through the mail. Unfortunately it was returned a week or two later “undeliverable”. We let it go at that.

It finally occurred to us all that my mom still had a little family left. Just as my marriage was coming to an end in 2004, my mother decided it was time for my kids to meet her family in Hardy Arkansas. My mom’s mom and brother live there.

My parents met when my dad was visiting his folks there. They owned Udell’s Motel. My mom has pictures of herself in front of a Udell’s Motel billboard before they met.

The visit was great and it meant a lot to Dylan. Family has always been very important to him. We’re all very lucky to have one.

Hardy’s a beautiful place. My mom used to cross the road after school and swim in a river.

Pics show my mom’s mom Marie with the kids in front of her house (she does look like my mom). It used to be my great grandparents Mommo and Daddo’s place. My mom has the kids call her Mommo now. A group pic of my grandmother, mother, uncle, his wife, and our lids. The big stone house is one of my mom’s childhood homes. There are a couple of pictures of what’s left of Udell’s Motel. The kids are standing on a slab of one of the units. The stairwell the kids are standing at the bottom of used to belong to my grandmother Marie. I fell all the way down them when I was three or four and she tore my head off for breaking my new toy watch. Last pic is my mom’s brother Mike, his son-in-law David, and me having a beer in the yard. Hardy is still in a dry county. Mike drives to Missouri, buys beer, and stores them in a giant ice filled barrel in his yard.

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