Sometimes I stop short when I realize you and Mom are both gone, even though it's been over a year since that last parting. Still, I wouldn't wish you back..for your sake. It's been a long time since you celebrated birthdays with your mom whom I never knew. (Do you mark birthdays Over There?) I'm sure you're spending time with your dad, whom we all called "Gramps" and your (oldest) favorite sister, Mae. I imagine you are regaling anyone nearby with your mischevious storytelling, and I smile, realizing you'll remember all the details and every single name.
It's been a bumpy year here. Your (youngest) favorite sister's health is on a downward spiral, the Phillies were in the tank the entire season, and neither the stock market nor the Republican party seem to be able to get it together. You would have had a lot to grouse about.
Funny things remind me of you. I think I cried the day my clothesline broke, because the excessive electrical tape wrapped around the loose end of the wire reminded me of the day you put it up. Whenever you'd roll into the driveway on Hickory Lane, I knew your yellow toolbox was tucked into the trunk, stocked with whatever you thought you might need when you got here. (I always had a list...) This summer I wore your flannel shirt when I needed to protect my arms from the wild itching of the bean plants, and I would think to myself, "Dad's helping me in the garden today." And last week when I cleared out the tomato plants, your ingenious "one pull" knotting system made the job much easier.
I don't get to Strasburg very often anymore...my two best reasons for visiting no longer exist. And when I do pass through, it's not the same. It's not quite "home" anymore. The guys who bought your house forgot to weed the flowerbed along the barberry hedge all.summer.long, and someone else is living in the house next door,too. The Main Street Closet a few doors down now stands vacant...I remember when it was a garage with a little store, and I would venture over there myself to buy something for mom. It was a big deal to be so far from home "on my own." I still feel that way some days. I find myself humming the lines to a song you probably wouldn't like because it's not "country." (And you'd have serious doubts about a group named Building 429, but it's good stuff, Dad, true stuff:)