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  • We had a ton of rain earlier this week. But I didn’t mind. While the beach is great, that’s not the main reason I come here for. This is the week where I just get to be. To be me. Not the role I play at work, not the softball playing fool, not even the Cowbird-story-teller – this is the week where I reconnect with my family, just hang out, and be a part of this thing called family. Blessedly, we’ve been doing this long enough now, that we don’t seem to fall back into the roles we played growing up in the family. I can just be a part of it, and be me, who I am today.

    Family is an amazing thing. It has the potential to be the most dysfunctional and destructive thing in the world, and ours has been that, at times. I’m sure that it still has its level of dysfunction, depending on whose eyes it is seen through, and from what perspective. Some of the younger generations still have their own issues to sort through, and that’s cool - we all have our “stuff”. I just don’t necessarily feel the need to be in the middle of theirs all the time. It’s still great to be here, and to share some time with all of them, though, and to hear how they’re doing, and to just be with them.

    This year was a lot different, without Mom here. Everyone felt it – we talked about it, a little, but tried not to focus on it, too much. I’m sure each person felt it, in their own, private way. Last night, we looked through some old jewelry of hers, and some other what-nots that had wound up over at Chris’ place. Fortunately, we don’t have any squabbling over stuff like this, at all. I’ve seen the distribution of the residual material stuff tear families apart – my Dad had to preside over a big “brou-ha-ha “ as the executor of his mother’s estate, when she passed away, at age 101. I remember driving with him across the state of Pennsylvania after that, and hearing about all of the petty jealousies that had come out among his sisters when they’d all gotten together after her passing, many of them still stuck in their family roles from long ago. I was filled with a sense of gratitude that we didn’t have all of that after Mom passed.

    I’m even more glad that we all still seem to be committed to coming down here, to being together for the week of the 4th of July, where we’ve been coming to be together and spend time with Mom every year since Dad died, 17 years ago. There was a time where I felt estranged from the family – it was all my own doing and in my own head, but I definitely felt estranged, and that was a very lonely place to be. I did manage to find my own “chosen” families when I went through that, so I wasn’t completely alone, but there’s things that my family knows about me that people who haven’t seen the whole movie unwind could never know.
  • It’s wonderful to be here, and to be able to just be me, here. It’s never what I expect it to be – each year has its own unique “feel” to it, as there’s always a slightly different mix of people, depending on who can make it and who can’t, and everyone has different things going on in their lives. It’s all part of the ever-evolving family drama, (meant in a good way, not crazy drama).

    This year was one of just taking it very easy, for me. I only played “Bug-A-Rum” the first night, where I usually play it every night. I could say I’m just resting on my laurels, as I won that night, but I’ve just been into quieter, more peaceful evenings, and going to bed early. At the annual Debordieu 4th of July Day Parade, which is a wild and wet affair, and I usually find myself right in the middle of the action, as water battles rage between the parade participants and the onlookers - massive water battles – this year, I chose to be the official photographer, and just angled in for good shots with my camera, and managed to only get slightly wet, myself. I did get some great shots, though!

    Today’s the last full day here in the Beach villa. Tomorrow morning, we’ll pack up the cars and make our way back home. “Happy Trails” will be sung as each carload leaves out, a family tradition begun down here, probably 16 years ago, by brother Ken, who couldn’t even be here this year (for the first time) because of hip replacement surgery. Then it’s 8 – 10 hours on the road back home, to finish out the summer and back to our lives, there.

    I never feel sad or dread the end of this week – I always return with a renewed sense of who I am, and of why I do what I do. Being with my family this week just recharges that part of my soul that can only be touched by this. I am so grateful to have this. It means the world to me. It’s a big part of who I am. It’s hard to even put it all into words - but I guess I just tried to do that.

    (Photos – (1 & 2) Paintings by sister Juli Ricksecker – her way of being here this year was painting scenes from Debordieu; (3-6) Battle for Independence! Scenes from Debordieu’s July 4th Day Parade
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