I suspect my hatred of Labor Day began when I was a child. After all, the annual End of Summer Picnic was the gateway to a new school year. The endless summer days filled with riding my bike, swimming and sniffing flowers were soon to be replaced by pencils, homework and sneezing because of chalk dust.
As I have grown older, my feelings about Labor Day have only intensified. Labor Day has come to mark the passing of two important people in my life. My maternal grandfather, my Pop, passed away over Labor Day weekend in 1993. I remember him so strongly; his warm smile is so ingrained in me that it is hard to believe that he has been gone for 18 years.
To this day I continue to wonder, "Would Pop be proud of me? How would he feel about the decisions that I've made?" In some ways I'm glad that he wasn't alive to see my amputation. I have no doubt that it would have broken his heart, but he would have been my biggest cheerleader when I started walking with my prosthetic. I sometimes chuckle thinking how eager my Pop would have been to swipe my leg so that he could tinker on it in his workshop. I'm sure that more than one manufacturer warranty would have been voided because of his efforts!
Our family suffered a devastating loss seven years ago today when my stepbrother Christopher passed away. Chris was a character and would have made a phenomenal politician. He was able to say things and to do things without raising an eyebrow whereas, had I attempted the same, I would have been met with disapproval. Chris could smile to diffuse any situation and could convince a blind man to buy a flashlight. He lived each of his 26 years to the fullest, creating enough memories for a lifetime. I think of him often, wondering what he would be doing if he hadn't died so young.
Instead of celebration, Labor Day has become a day of reflection for me. I miss my Pop and Chris today. I think of both men and smile, but the feelings are bittersweet.
Today I'm going to make corn fritters and talk to Robby about Chris. I remember my Mom making them as a snack at night when he would come over to visit. That kid was skinny but he could eat a lot! I have no doubt that Robby would have liked Chris because, to be honest, I have never met anyone who didn't like him!
I'm also going to have a heaping bowl (maybe two) of Cookies n' Cream ice cream and think about my Pop. He would always buy it for me whenever I was sick or sad, and today I think I'm a little of both. I see so much of my Pop in Robby-- both exemplify unconditional love.
It just occurred to me that Robby is an incredibly lucky little boy. He has the best angels in the world! Thank you Pop and Chris for looking out for him. I love and miss you both. Happy Labor Day.