Blood's Thicker Than The Mud...A Wudderversary Family Affair
Warm Greetings, Wudder World…
I write to you on this, My Little Sister’s Birthday, July 24th, in the wee hours of the morning, having recently awoken inside the quite literally, water-logged confines, of a Perryville, Maryland, Days Inn hotel room.
There is an absolutely ridiculous-looking Clive Owen/Paul Giamatti movie on the TV with no sound, while I look at three major leak spots in the ceiling, which overnight produced large puddles on the bathroom counter-top, the stool next to the mini-fridge, and (luckily) the corner of the bed opposite of where I slept.
I would provide pictures of the vaguely depressing décor, but let’s be real.
There’s only one soaked hotel-room bedspread anyone in America currently needs to see…and that one has nothing to do with me 😉
How did I get here?
Glad you asked.
I arrived 6:45 PM Sunday, following an aborted mission from our nation’s capital, because due to rain and flash flooding, my “visibility” looked like this on 95 North.
As the bottom of my car was touching water, while plowing across the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge, with lightning flashing across the sky above the Susquehanna River…I made a promise to myself to get off at the next exit, should I & my trusty 2014 VW Passat, aka DAS AUTO, be fortunate enough to negotiate our way across the water, without actually floating away into it, or being electrocuted.
“So here we are…”©Bob Seger
Rather than waking up with my sister and the family in a nice old hotel room in Ocean City New Jersey, ready to celebrate my pregnant sister’s birthday with her for the first time in more than a decade, I’m in Perryville MD debating on when to head down to the complimentary breakfast, whether to ask a discount on the leaky ceiling and what time to get back on the road.
C’est La Vie.
Life is the stuff that happens while you’re busy making other plans.
It’s been a rough, but memorable and in some ways inspiring month for the fam.
We just completed the mission of burying the beloved long-time matriarch of the clan, Ann Rhoads aka Nana, last weekend.
My sister and I weren’t scheduled to see each other this month until today's events centered around her birthday. Due to our cross-country distance since 2004, July 2017 is already the most time we’ve spent together during a single month in at least a decade.
In addition to shared stuff like meals, tears, nature walks, errand runs, photo compiling, podium speeches and airport rides, we also got to collaborate on our grandmother’s obituary, while she provided a valuable second-set of editorial eyes, on one of our most popular recent Wudder pieces, “Digging In the Crates Poetry Slam: Young Bam Bam & The Space Program”.
With deepest gratitude for all of that time, even under at times difficult circumstances, while my due-to-be-Aquarian-like-me third nephew deprives Erin of the advantage of being able to drink wine, we’ve updated one of our most-popular posts of last year, during this Happy Wudderversary, to again say…Happy Born Day, Sis!
Here’s to many, many, more…I will almost surely not be there with you when you do, but here’s to hoping you break Nana’s family record (98 years, 7 months) someday. Along the way, look forward to continuing to read and write a bunch of additional chapters with you.
Speaking of family records, below is an unedited or altered text message that I sent out to my 11 Rhoads cousins, on the day after our grandmother’s passing:
Above is a century-plus old photo of our great-grandfather Albert, the dapper, first Rhoads actor of public record.
He was rumored to have been engaged at least three times, before finally settling down with our great-grandmother, Ellen, then going into the Atlantic City hotel business, during the bootleg liquor era depicted in 'Boardwalk Empire'.
He would go on to outlive his only child, a son named Jack, by about two years, before dying at 98, from complications following a fall taken while moving an easel he regularly used to paint in his Wilmington DE assisted-living tower apartment, where he lived by himself, for the last decade or so of his life.
Albert had been for the past several decades the longest-lasting member of the Rhoads clan, until being surpassed in Spring 2017, by his daughter-in-law Ann.
I look forward to seeing Albert Rhoads' great-granddaughter Kathryn, go on to eclipse him as a thespian, much like Drew Barrymore eventually did her great-grandfather, John...perhaps even by one day starring in a script penned by her big cuz, who became the Rhoads family's first published writer, with this four-bar poem published in the Philadelphia Inquirer circa 1987, on the heels of the Challenger explosion, found today in an Uxbridge apartment scrapbook belonging to our beloved Nana.
Onward & Upward, Cousins 11!
We are all blessed to have been born into this legacy of LOVE.
We may go out in our own version of a fiery blaze one day, but as long as we follow the blueprint that's been shown, while making sure each one, teach one, that flame shall never be extinguished, and none of us will ever really be gone.
Should you, at any point along the way get confused, just take a breath and then ask yourself, "What would Nana do?".
If you follow that road map, good things should follow you.