We will see. He will be 12 years old, so it is hard to know who he will be next year. Although I have no doubt that he will still be the sweet kind person that all of my friends up here have grown to adore.
Friday I had to get him to space camp a little earlier then normal so he could ride the bus over to the College of Engineering. After I dropped him off I had errands to run, and then up to the Opera House where I set tables for 58 people for dinner. Then with a plastic tub of napkins I drove back into Tallahassee to watch Christopher shoot his rocket off, then listen to a 19 year old young man who won the Cristy McCaullen rocket shooting award or something like that. Really. There is a foundation named in her honor that sets up events and competitions all around the US with kids building and shooting off rockets. His power point was very interesting with some cool photos of the different kinds of rockets this young man has shot off. Then everyone staggered back out into the intense heat of the black top parking lot as they shot off the air rockets and then the guy shot off a big lovely rocket with fire coming out the back end and noise and everything. It was miserably hot, and the asphalt cooked us from our feet up as the sun beat down on our backs, and we waited patiently for each child to get a chance to shoot off their rockets as we each joined in together for each rocket a count down from 5. The kids stood together clustered in their age organized classes and amongst their new friends laughing and joking about how high one rocket went, versus which one was coolest when it blew up. Either way you could see their pride and knowledge of what they had learned this past week. I think the most important things they learned were when you hold your hand out of a car, it is not just cool, but now they understand the science of lift, that just blew both Christopher and I away. And they could recite Newton's law "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Two very important things for people their age to learn. They will each in their own time learn how these laws work even outside of science in the world of human relationships.
The kids, even the youngest, even the 3 Asian siblings who spoke no English, stood a little prouder, although not a tight team, they had survived rocket camp, no one was hurt, and rockets had shot up into the sky and others and burst into a million pieces like the sound of their laughter and the joy of blowing something up. They had a confidence of knowledge and skills they had not had a week earlier. And it is amazing seeing that in children between 6 and 12. The knowledge of how rockets work. That is pretty cool, and full of basic common sense things that can't help but increase your confidence in this world.
Graduation was nice with the kids, some quite shy when it comes to talking in front of others, get their certificates and say what they had learned or enjoyed most. The proud parents/guardians and instructors all watched these kids grow and learn and change in the one week. Science is cool. Having a general knowledge of what it takes to shoot a rocket off of the planet, and to realize what that means, to have the ability to leave this planet, even if only for a few seconds on a homemade rocket, is a pretty amazing thing to get as a child.
And then it was time to shift gears. I had folded the napkins for the dinner while I waited in between the speaker and the rocket shooting and the ceremony, and when all was done and friends waved goodbye to, we jumped in the toy and shot home to pick up our costumes and race to the Opera House.
No time for watching Dr. Who. No time for our little 2 mile jaunt we take most evenings. No time for practice, this was the real deal. Cabbages bought, cookies bought, costumes and make up waiting to go, and off we went. He went upstairs to get dressed and for Christopher to relax. I went downstairs and worked filling glasses with ice until people started showing up and then I worked with Denise at the ticket table, then helped to bring the salads out, clear the plates, empty bottles and glasses, serve the main course; meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans, clear the plates again, remove the bread baskets, serve the desert of pound cake, whipped cream and fresh fruit salad. So many of the people there surprised to see me, the famous woman of the hour with her face on the cover of the TLH and in the Tallahassee Democrat Limelight picking up dirty dishes. Yes, this is community theater, we are all volunteers, and a wonderful and kind article benefits the number of people we have come to the show. But it did mean so much to me that people hugged me and told me how wonderful the article was and that was why they had come to see the show. Even one of our regulars, a handsome older gentleman who explains quite sweetly to you that he is blind just as he grabs a breast, hugged me and told me how proud he was and never once made a move to touch anything inappropriate. I was taken back by this abnormal show of respect for me. I know normally he is only teasing, and honestly, with most people I would still be offended, but I am not with this man, but I am not. Maybe because you can tell he is a good man, and loves woman. Anyway, I brought Christopher over to meet him because our local library is named after him, and Christopher is doing the library commercial and I wanted him to meet someone else who has a library named after him. His own grandparents do, but so does this man. That is pretty amazing to this book lover to know so many libraries that someone I know has helped to survive and grow and thrive.
Now we clear the dessert plates, steer the patrons to the coffee, and then up to do a light and sound check, fix Christopher's pants to look like 4X4s and tie his bow tie. Review both Christopher and my notebooks, check; scripts, check; commercials, check; outline of show, check; music, check, check. Stand by the light board and wait for the Que.
And the show begins.
Look at those faces, aren't they happy? And the last show, a matinee on Sunday was a close as a disaster as we could get. First of all the three siblings were running late and did not get there until right before the show started, not at the actor's call an hour earlier. And the piano player was still not there even after holding up the show for 15 minutes. So, Judy our director, divided up the cast into two parts and we sang the William Tell Overture instead of having a piano player. it sounded funny, and the cast had so much fun, that the audience couldn't help but be enchanted. We had as a group in less then 30 days, built a set, rehearsed a play and now had successfully had 2 shows, the first night with over 80 in attendance of the show. Saturday night, 120, possibly a radio show record attended and about 50 for Sunday matinee, which is amazing. And there we were, charging forward as a little Stage Company not worried that one of the parts, the piano player that pulls the show together with the music was not there. We were ready to sing it and do the best and give the best performance possible. The piano player did show up within 10 minutes or so of when we started, but it took her another 10 minutes to get caught up and ready to play, and a handful of us kept the singing part up until she could take over, and then the play just magically connected our small band of actors with the audience, who were there to be entertained by old time radio, and low tech entertainment, and they were not disappointed. And the boy, well that little 11 year old charmed the pants off of everyone who was there. He is a natural that one. Just like Chuck, Mary's brother. A grown man with a wife and kids, but let me tell you, what a joy to play with, and he and his sister Mary are just filled up with talent. And we told him that he was as talented as his sister, and he would give us that sweet bashful smile, but knew that was the biggest compliment we could give anyone in the world. And we meant it.
And the show was over, just as fast as the month had gone, the weekend was gone and the production run. Christopher left from the Opera house with his Mother, Father, brother, his brother's girlfriend and a month stuffed to the brim with memories of his crazy Aunt who adores him. He was gone before I could realize it, thankfully, because I miss him terribly. Even that Saturday night about 6:55 with actors call at 7 he came to worried, he had forgot his socks. He was sure everyone would yell at him about being so forgetful. I said, this is not the time to be upset, your brother and Heidi will go get the socks. He looked up with those worried eyes and said he had to go too. "OK, I said, let me talk to them first." I walked out and Heidi and Nathaniel were sitting at the table with my friends Pet and Jan and I explained here were the keys to my toy, take Christopher home to get his socks, no yelling at him. He was getting ready to do a show, and it was no big deal, so no pressuring or being upset with him. They said OK. His parents came back to sit only to find all of their children gone. I explained what happened, and that I was not upset,. and I didn't think anyone else would be either. They took my lead, and were supportive. He is still an 11 year old, no mater how wise and together he seems some times. It makes it all the more sweet. Especially if you take enough ativan so that your nerves are calm and you can simply enjoy the moment instead of having irrational anger. And all was just fine.
We broke the set within an hour of the show, cleaned the stage for the M&M stage company rehearsals of The sound of Music, which will be amazingly wonderful, and we all headed home. The show was done. We had rehearsed, met new people, made new friends, survived the challenges and had enjoyed ourselves immensely. And I would not be surprised if we clear over a thousand for the Opera House. Not a lot, but well earned, and there are some patrons that this is their favorite show, so making our patrons happy, and keeping those old stage boards well used.
I got home yesterday and it was quiet. I walked around my yard, I went to bed early, and I got up to a day filled with rain and slowness that just seemed to pour out of that gray sky and fill up all the space. A perfect day to rest the weariness of a busy well used up body. A body that almost a month with an 11 year old nephew who taught me as much as I might have rubbed off on him. A day to finally after 2 months let it sink him who I am. I am Kathleen Osgood, divorced, then widowed by Larry Osgood. The widowed part was the part where I was finally free of all obligations to the man I have loved and lived with for 25 years. Fought with and hated, forgave and nurtured, whom I sat and held his hand as he died and left this world, young statistically, but he had lived a long full insane life that burned out as fast as he lived it. I am retired, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an imaginary girlfriend, a soulmate, a gardener, a soapmaker, a musician, a Foley artist, a creative, passionate, worn out tired, used up Stage 4 cancer survivor. Who will never taste the word remission, but lives a life so full and happy and sad and wonderful and gifted, and has seen loss and love and is still ready to throw her heart open to experience the love of a puppy. A nephew's girlfriend sleeping in my giant kingsized be with me and Bob the dog, Henry the cat, Luna the cat and Stella firmly planted on her chest, purring away. And this young woman, smiled at the glow in the dark stars over her head and fell asleep and slept in this room of this strange unknown woman, and felt safe and in love with her Nathaniel and perfectly willing to accept the bizzare family he has, much like the play, You Can't Take it With you. And life was good.
I slept last night all alone in my trailer house, in my ginormous kingsized bed with Bob and Henry, Stella and Luna, and the lights were off, and the world was quiet and peaceful. A small present for all the passion, joy, noise, curiosity, living, walking, practicing, banging on pianos, reading and laughing that comes with the life with an 11 year old. And on this slow quiet day, I have talked to a few friends, but mostly I have allowed myself this day to just be. To be quiet, to read, to sleep, to rest, to simply exist while all of the activity of the last 3 weeks and the 3 weeks before that, and the 3 weeks before that swirl around my head and heart and remind me why I am exhausted in every muscle tissue, every brain cell, every inch of my bones. And to be happy. And to be grateful for this time and all the moments and the memories. And to watch my 15 year old be so happy with a girl that he has met and loves, and to hear that my oldest nephew and his wife have given birth to another son, Dillon Cole Miller, and to have Ms Moon home from Asheville and I can reach out and hug her and kiss the top of her head and Mr. Moon's head as they sit in the audience of the Sunday matinee, watching Chuck, Mary's brother, watching Christopher, watching dear loved ones as we worked out hearts out.
To worry still about my Vicki, but know that all will be fine, and she is strong, and soon she will be floating in the warm salt water of North Florida and the sun will beat down on her, and she will heal at mock speed. At home. Florida is our home, Vicki and mine. No matter where we are or show go, we are two Florida girls.
And now to sit and remember all of that. To feel all of the love, from parents driving up to surprise their youngest and support him in his stage debut, to the buzz of love in the quiet of my house now filled only like Pippi Longstockings, with animals and ideas and books, but very few adults.