In August of 1985 a tradition began thanks to my brother Johnny and his wife Mary.
They had recently bought a house in Lake Luzerne in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Every August beginning in that year my brother Michael and his family would make the journey from the Bronx for a two week vacation.
Eileen and our children always joined them for one of those weeks.
It wasn’t glamorous.
It wasn’t Disney.
We certainly didn’t spend a lot of money.
It was, however, pure heaven.
If life were fair, we would be heading up there now because this is the week in August that we always spent at the Lake.
Tomorrow would have been my brother Michael’s 76th birthday and, instead of sharing the eulogy story that I have done in the past, I thought it would be more fitting to remember the joyful times that we had at Lake Luzerne.
It is also a way of remembering my brother Johnny who provided these opportunities as well as his wife, Mary and I plan to have a nice hot cup of coffee remembering Mike’s wife, Margaret who always made the coffee, morning and night.
Now to the memories.
They will not be in chronological order but in sentimental order.
Well, the first is not really a sentimental story but it is funny.
We had driven up Friday night and Michael and Margaret were already there. After a cup of coffee and maybe a round or two of May I, we all went to bed.
One of the things that we always spoke about was that invariably we all had vivd dreams when we were up in Lake Luzerne. Eileen and I slept in the coffins in the living room. They really weren’t coffins, though that is how we referred to the This End Up couches that morphed into beds.
The following morning Margaret had the coffee brewing and Bryan was on the porch with Unda Michael…which is how Bryan referred to Michael as a two year old. Michael and Bryan joined us in the kitchen and of course the topic of the moment was what did we dream.
Eileen led off and told about her dream. Apparently she had this terrible dream of something crawling all over her, like a mouse. We chuchkled at that but then I saw Michael get this sheepish, almost guilty look and then he exclaimed.
“We actually do have a mouse.”
Well, that was the end of our trip as I didn’t even get to finsih my coffee as we were quickly packed and on the road heading back to East Quogue.
Eileen was pregnant with Bryan but, being the trooper that she was, she still made sure we got to The Magic Forrest and The North Pole. These were two amusement parks that the Sean and Jeannine loved. They also loved The Great Escape which was a Six Flags amusement park that served as our annual prilgrimage.
But this year on our way home from The Magic Forrest, Eileen proclaimed that she was very tired and that we wouldn’t be going to The Great Escape.
Jeannine was furious and she angily stated, “I don’t know why I saved my money!”
You see, Jeannine loved the aracades at The Great Escape. So, a compromise was reached and it was decided that the next day I would be taking Sean and Jeannine to The Great Escape.
One of our earliest memories occurred in the cabin.
Michael and Margaret were in one bedroom; their sons, Kevin and Chris, were in the bedroom in bunk beds. Eileen and I and Sean and Jeannine were in the living room in the coffins.
It was like a scene out of The Waltons.
We were all talking , possibly in an neverending “Goodnight Johnboy” conversation.
When all of a sudden there was a terrific bang!
Michael came running out in his underwear to see what was afoot. (Michael was a big Sherlock Holmes fan.)
Eileen and I laughed uncontrolably. I am not sure we ever got to sleep that nigh.
You have to understand that, though these memories may not have you rolling in the aisle, to those of us who shared the magic of Lake Luzerne, they are woven into the fabric of our lives. They are part of our DNA.
One last moment about me and my brother.
It was a hot day and we took the kids to the arcades in Lake George. At one point Mike turned to me and asked. “Would you have a beer with me?”
What’s a boy to do? When your brother asks you to have a beer with him you enthusiastically say YES!
Eileen and Margaret took the kids to the arcade and Michael and I headed for a bar. There was a nice place just a few stores down from the arcade and Michael and I ordered two beers.
We sat there for a while, just enjoying our company. Michael had maybe half a beer.
I finished mine.
It wasn’t a momentus day but it is one I would love to relive over and over.
Not being able to sucks