We were all exhausted by the time we ate, but the spaghetti was slurped, the bread remembered sopped up the last drop on our plates and then we had birthday cupcakes. Sunday was Jessica's 10th birthday, that was why I had made spaghetti. Koreans eat noodles on their birthdays and the new year to help ensure a prosperous year. I like those cultural traditions, I made my precious niece noodles. I also made her cupcakes. Cupcakes because it was her birthday, but we were also celebrating my big brother getting to enjoy his birthday present from Bug and I, his helicopter lesson. I love birthdays and holidays and traditions and things that give humans joy and happiness.
After we finished dinner the 49er and Seahawk game was still going, but one by one we petered out and disappeared into cozy beds to sleep and dream of our day. I did make it to the end of the game, only because the last few minutes were so exciting. I texted Bug all of the action at the end with my final message, "Seahawks win" then I turned off my light and rested my own weary head and slept. I slept fitfully in that I was not in my normal bed and I worried to make sure that my brother woke in time to get the car trailer back to Uhaul and to make it to his lesson. The day broke clear and bright. No clouds, no winds, no weather that could in anyway affect his flight. His lesson was set at 11:00am so the temperatures had warmed up into the 50s, again no problems. JongAe got to go up with him and to take photos and videos of Rob's first flight. He loved it. He was so happy when he got home, and with JongAe getting to go up with him, she was able to be with her husband while he got to do something he had always wanted to do. The joy was contagious because before they left I did not think that my sister-in-law and niece were taking this ride seriously.
We can make some moments even more special for someone by simply recognizing them in the moment, instead of ourselves. I tried to explain to them that I had watched my big brother his entire life get bullied and never really fit in with a class that was still clinging to the world of the correct 50s and testing the wild drug life of the 60s. He was always quiet, intelligent, stronger then his slight structure would imply. He always took care of me. I always looked up at him and wanted to see him happy. I don't remember my brother ever really getting the recognition he deserved. I don't remember him getting a lot of choices in his life. He was pushed into the Coast Guard because of the war in Viet Nam, and even though he had no intention of staying in the service, he excelled at what he did. He always wanted to be a Sheriff or a Policeman, but he has all of these skills involving paperwork and handling the radios and call ins. He is a master of logistics and management. He is a wonderful instructor. He is always so good at everything he tries, but people don't want to do what he can do, so they push him into that confined space of management. He just wanted to be someone out on the street. He retired from the Fire Department, and again, ended up with the paperwork end of things. He was an EMT for years, and he went on many fire and emergency calls in his career, and now he is retired. He also became an armed guard for a security company and he gets to be out with people and protecting and helping others. Can you tell, I am a little in awe of my big brother. We are very different, the two of us. Not physically, we are both shaped like my Mother's side, and I look like Mother and he like Dad, but we look like brother and sister. But our political and religious views quite different, although we come from the same beliefs. Love, sharing, giving back, take care of your family and friends, the values our parents demonstrated and shared with us.
Rob and JongAe came home still flying high from their amazing and glorious trip through the sky. It seemed like a celebration lunch was in order. We drove over to pick up Bug's Mom. She took Rob and JongAe around her house and they oohed and aahed over the closets and bathroom and wood floors and they just loved the house.
Jessica did not have any "grandparents" in that our parents are now gone and JongAe's parents had died within the last several years also. So I asked Jessica if she would prefer to call Bug's parents, who are her great aunt and uncle by marriage, grandma and grandpa. She said that did seem simpler, so no problem. I mentioned it to JongAe and Rob to see how they felt. No problem there, so I called and asked Mom. She was thrilled and first question was when is her birthday, well it had been Sunday, the day before.
The five of us drove over to our new home on Casa Bianca. Everyone again aahed and ooohed over the woods, the pond, the house and the swamp. Rob and JongAe just turned round and round looking at each giant tree. Mom loves magnolias and pointed each one out bigger then the last. Everyone agreed they could see why Bug and I were taking on this project.
We drove back to Monticello to have lunch, but most places were closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's actual birthday is January 15, but this was the national day of service in his honor, the third Monday of January. I think Dr. King would be humbled but proud to have a day of service in his name. I am so blessed in my lifetime we have had so many people of peace. Gandhi, Dr. King, John Lennon, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Stookey to just name a quick few easy names. People who taught me so much through their messages. Some gave up a normal life, some gave up their life to try and teach the rest of us humans about love and sharing the world together. Yesterday people came together to share service and helping each other. The human family. My sweetie refuses to color in a little box on those forms that ask 'race' he always writes, "human" under race. I like that. One family.
The Monticello Pizza Kitchen was opened, so we had lunch there. Mom and I split a calzone, JongAe ate a salad as big as her head and Rob and Jessica had Philly Steak Cheese. I recounted my stories of the people in Philly yelling at me that it is simply a "steak and cheese" in Philadelphia. No need to use the word Philly because that goes without saying. Not in my world. Those three words come out as one. Mom gave Jessica her $5 for her birthday. This is the gift they give to all of their grandchildren. Jessica hugged her and thanked her. I commented that Jessica was the luckiest girl in the world. She got a new Grandma and $5 to boot. I looked over at JongAe and she was wiping tears from her face. She looked at me with such longing and hope and asked me, "Do you mean I have another Mom?" "Yes" was my response. She jumped up and ran over and hugged Mom crying. Mom was a little taken back, but you could see that happy sparkle in her brown eyes as she hugged her newest daughter. When JongAe sat back down, she had a happiness I didn't realize I had been missing in her. I saw a thick fog disappear from her like the sun coming out on a gray morning bringing bright clear blue skies. The sadness of loosing our Mom, her Dad, her Mom, our Dad had just worn her down each time with the loss. She has not really completely gotten over the loss of these parents, and with Dad's loss she now struggles to even go over to his house, now Tom and Pat's home. But maybe, just maybe yesterday she got a piece of that little joy back. She is a daughter again. I sat at that table and looked around. Mom is so happy here. She is feeling like a part of this community already. There sat my big brother and his family. They too are looking to come up to this community. There is just something here in this little magic town that brings families together. They are looking around this town now as people who plan to move in and take their part in the community. To bring their gifts and talents to share. They are looking for their daughter to finish her school here, maybe go to FSU, and for her to have a forever home. To make her mark in the keystone county of Florida. The state my Mother insisted her children be born and raised. The state my Mother and Daddy adopted as their own.
Monticello just seems like one of those magical places where families can make magic together. Sometimes it is just appreciating the family you make around yourself as you share a calzone.
As magical as a tear of happiness.