One sunny August afternoon…


Two of these things are not like the others.

I was asked a question during this last book tour—where do I keep my awards? (I am a three-time winner of the RITA Award, twice for best contemporary, once for best mainstream fiction). I keep them on my bookshelf in my bedroom, alongside the flag that draped my grandfather’s casket…he was a World War II veteran—and McIrish’s Firefighter of the Year statue.

That’s the one I want to talk about today. Don’t get me wrong; I am very proud to have received my RITAs. But there are awards, and then there are awards.


Dearest Son that day.

Once upon a time on a summer day sixteen years ago, I was driving my car, on the hunt for some corn from the local farm stand. Dearest Son, then four, was in his car seat, playing with his little firetruck, while my daughter swam with her cousins and auntie back at my house.

My son and I heard the fire alarm go off, and I said, “Maybe we’ll see Daddy in the firetruck!” It had happened before.

Then I saw the flames. Right there, right in front of us, a house was on fire—the garage side. I saw a man kicking in the front door and pulled over, snatched Dearest from the car seat and ran across the lawn. “Are there people in there?” I called. The man was a friend from around the corner named Tom. “Yes!” he said, and I started running toward the house to help.

Except I had a four-year-old in my arms, and we were close to the road, and I couldn’t leave him there alone. Another man, Ted, came out of the house with an old lady, and a second later, Tom emerged with her husband. “Are you okay?” I asked the lady, who was crying.

“My son is still inside,” she said. “In his bedroom.”

By now the fire had spread with amazing speed, and we could hear the roar and the flames were well past the roof. The sound of glass breaking was terrifying. I took the old lady’s hand. We could hear the sirens shrieking on the quiet August day. Then a fire engine pulled up, and McIrish was driving, dressed in full gear. “There’s someone in there!” I yelled, and he shrugged into his air tank, pulled the mask over his face and…and went inside, another firefighter on his heels. Inside what was now a raging, fully involved fire.

That saying that time stands still…it wasn’t exactly true. Time slowed to heartbeats. I could feel each pump of my heart as I kept my eyes fixed on that door.  Was my son about to watch his father die? Should we leave? Could I help? More fire trucks were on the scene, men swarming everywhere, axes in hand, hoses trained on the flames.

“Where’s my son?” the old lady cried.

“Don’t worry,” I said, not looking away from the door. “That’s my husband in there. He’ll save him.” She started to pray. Me, I couldn’t do anything except stare at that door and wait for my husband to come out.

Fires are alive. They are born, they grow, they consume, they die. This fire was so loud, so full of terrifying life, whining and roaring, popping and devouring. Dearest Son was quiet. “Daddy will be okay,” I said. I had never lied to my kids before. I hoped to God that afternoon wouldn’t be the first time.

IMG_2055Then McIrish and the other firefighter, John, came out, dragging an unconscious man. They passed him off to the other firefighters, grabbed a hose and went right back in. “He’s alive!” I said to the old lady. “Your son is alive!” We both started crying.

The fire was under control shortly after that, and my husband came back out, took off his helmet and mask, and looked over at our boy and me. He gave a little nod and smile, and I put my hand over my heart, overwhelmed. Then I set our son down and said, “Do you understand what you just saw, honey? Daddy saved a life. He saved that man’s life. Never forget that.”

IMG_2064“I never will, Mommy,” he said solemnly. He hasn’t.

A helicopter was landing in the field across the street to take the man to the hospital, and he did recover. The old couple went to stay with their other son, and no firefighters were hurt. It was a great day for the fire department, and a great day for our town. All the firefighters worked beautifully together; the good Samaritans got their rightful due as heroes, no one was badly hurt, a life was saved…it was a good call, as firefighters say in their modest way.

IMG_2060Our family and town celebrated McIrish and John, and at one event, our daughter, then seven, accepted an award on his behalf, since McIrish was at the fire academy. He got his statue later that year with a proclamation signed by the lieutenant governor.

But what I remember most was when our eyes met, after the man was saved, after the fire was out. That little nod that said, “Yes, IMG_2067I’m okay. I love you. I’m fine.” And my hand over my heart, telling him, “You are everything a man should be.”

So my statues, while I’m so proud of them…well. There are more important things in life. Fighting Nazis. Putting your life on the line for another. A little boy getting to watch his father be the hero he always knew his daddy was.

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Great Moments in Toddlerhood

They trick you with their cuteness.

They trick you with their cuteness.

Tess Finlay is possibly my favorite character in LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES. She’s three years old and a holy terror, and drawn on some of the wee little friends I’ve met in my life as a cousin, babysitter extraordinaire, mommy, auntie and, as my kids like to call me, Creepy Baby Lady (in that I must say hello to every baby I encounter and compliment the parents on said child’s beauty, charm and intelligence).

The power radiates off of this one.

The power radiates off of this one.

Tess…she would try the patience of a saint. Her poor dad tries so hard to do right by her, but he’s at the point where a call to an exorcist sounds like the most logical course of action. I had to dig deep into my repressed memories for some of her actions, and damn, I had a great time doing it. I asked friends and relatives. I asked folks on social media. Because of course my own children were angels (cough), I had nothing to draw on from personal experience (I’m lying, of course, but they might be reading).

And so, without further ado, I present to you Great Moments in Toddlerhood.

They wouldn't ever…nope! They did.

They wouldn’t ever…nope! They did.

The time my now-adult brothers-in-law hid in the closet with their cat and decided to cut off its tail (my mother-in-law found them before the amputation occurred, so settle down)…

The time my ward retreived his poop from the toilet and smeared it all over the walls as vengeance because I told him he had to wipe his own butt…

The summer when my exceedingly adorable cousin would lure unsuspecting adults to his side with his sweet smile and then say in one breath, “I-know-a-bad-word-shit.”…

They look safe when they're sleeping. Don't be fooled.

They look safe when their eyes are closed.         Don’t be fooled.



The time a ward climbed on the second story roof of the house during a game of hide-and-seek (he won, and I aged twenty years)…

The time a certain child I may or may not have birthed smooshed a chocolate muffin into the shape of feces and left it in a supermarket aisle “for the old ladies to find, Mommy!”…

Goodbye, sleep!

Goodbye, sleep!

The time a little girl rubbed superglue through her long, silky hair and then had a tantrum because she kept pulling her own hair as she tried to jerk her hands free…

The time a little girl was put in a grocery cart and then bellowed, “Mommy! You hurt my labia!” (so much for teaching them anatomy)…

The time the boys chased the cat with a stick, and then, when told not to chase the cat with the stick, chased it with a rake instead.

Ah, kids! They’re the best, aren’t they? And to all of you who are childless by choice, I hope you enjoyed this post most of all. And hey, if you had or have a toddler who matches Tess’s antics, I would LOVE to hear your stories.

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Luncheon at the estate

There’s a special house in LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES…Sheerwater, Genevieve London’s expansive, tasteful home in the fictional town of Stoningham, Connecticut. Twenty-some-odd rooms, ten acres, a solarium, a library, a private dock. You know, like my place (pause for laughter).

a maze

A maze for those days when there’s nothing to do.

I love houses. Going to open houses is one of my hobbies, in fact. Those tour of home fundraising events? I love them. I always have. So imagine my joy, my leaping heart when I went to an actual estate many years ago. I was dating a guy who knew the owners of this estate. I can’t remember how, but we were invited for lunch. I’m sure the place had a name, but I don’t remember it. But it was an estate. How cool! How Austenian! I planned to be a good voyeur and soak up every detail. What would we eat! Those tiny sandwiches, maybe, or a haunch of some kind? Would it be served? Would they have a butler? Would we retire to the library for brandy afterward?

What I imagined…

What I imagined…

Years of reading historical romance had prepared me to fully enjoy. Perhaps we’d take a turn about the drawing room, or meander through the maze (there was actually a maze!). A game of whist? Why not? I was ready. I’d been born ready.

We passed through a giant iron gate and wound up the driveway to a glorious home, all peaks and gables and slate and stone. Pemberley, I thought. Wuthering Heights. A delicious envy surged through me.

My would-be husband

My would-be husband

Yeah. Until we got inside, that was. Now, you know I like dogs, of course. More than most people, even. But being molested by a pack of Irish wolfhounds upon entering was not the impression I hoped to make. Once the beasts were called away, I noticed how dark it was. How cold. It was late fall or winter, and we could see our breath. And…er…it was filthy. Dank. Grimy.

I won't lie. It was creepy.

I won’t lie. It was creepy.

Perhaps there was a roaring fire somewhere. Or not. Not, as the case turned out. We met the other diners, and the host, who was as chilly as the house. I noticed a few things I hadn’t imagined in my musings—the dirty napkins, for example. The tarnished silverware. Pemberley was turning into Miss Havisham’s in front of my eyes.

Then came lunch itself as we made awkward small talk. Soup, the first course, in a giant tureen. Campbell’s Tomato Soup, to be precise, unmistakeable in its familiarity, now dotted with clots of dog fur, served at room temperature (cold, that is to say). Mmm.

Someday, Mr. Darcy. Someday.

Someday, Mr. Darcy. Someday.

And soup was all we got. Soup, and water. No cheese, no crackers, no dessert. We stayed a while longer, sitting on damp, lumpy pieces of furniture made in centuries past. At one point, our host left the room and never returned. My boyfriend and I finally figured out the afternoon was over. We found the exit, swiping cobwebs out of eyes, trying to contain our laughter and preserve our honor from the randy dogs.



seriouslyfinalcoverNow, Genevieve London would never let dog hair get in your soup, and she’d make sure you had a lovely cocktail or glass of wine. Nothing but the best for old Gigi. She might seem chilly herself, but her house is warm and welcoming. And like the estate where I regrettably had lunch, what you see is not always what you get. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Hope our paths cross while I’m book tour! My full schedule is under Appearances on my website. xox

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Mean girls

In LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES, sixteen-year-old Riley abruptly finds herself outside of the circle of friends she’s had since third grade. Her mom, who was a teenager herself when she had Riley, is furious and heartbroken…and somewhat helpless. You can’t make someone love your kid, after all. You can’t be with them all the time, every moment.

lionWhich brings me to a story of a mean girl from my adolescent years. Patti…not her real name. Picture me—the thick glasses, bad perm, blueish-white skin. Picture Patti, tough as nails, fantastic athlete, hair always in a tight, long braid. I don’t know why she didn’t like me, but let’s just say she was a lion, and I was a baby impala with a limp. She prowled for me. She was the shark, and I was Roy Scheider, and I didn’t have a bigger boat.

Every lunch, she’d trip me if I went anywhere near her table. If I got an answer right in class, she’d snort in derision. She would shove me or knock into me at recess so often that I still have scars on my knees from falling on the blacktop.

sign of peaceWe went to the same church, her family and mine, and as is common practice, families sort of claimed their pews. We sat in the fourth pew, Patti’s family sat in the fifth. All throughout mass, I’d feel her eyes on me, and I dreaded the moment when I’d be forced to turn around, extend my hand and say, “Peace be with you.” “And also with you,” she’d say, and I’d pray (literally) that she meant it. She didn’t. The next day, I’d be tripped, mocked, “accidentally” shoved into the lockers. My books would be knocked from my arms.

bulliedI said nothing and told no one. We had no anti-bullying policies. No teacher intervened It was embarrassing. Middle school was bad enough. Being bullied was bad enough. I wasn’t going to be a tattle-tale on top of it. I just wanted to be invisible.

And then, one day in church, there in the birth and death announcements, was the news that Patti’s father had died. They weren’t in church that week. The next week, they were, and I screwed up my courage, turned around and looked Patti in the eye. “I’m sorry your father died,” I said. “Thanks,” she said.

She never bullied me again. We didn’t become friends, but the bullying ceased. What a hard year that must have been for Patti, her father dying of cancer. No twelve-year-old should have to endure that. She was wrong to pick on me, of course, and no twelve-year-old should have to be afraid in school, either. But if I’d known how sick her dad was, if I’d been able to picture how devastatingly tragic their home life was that year, maybe I wouldn’t have been so helpless.

seriouslyfinalcoverIn LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES, Riley’s mom takes swift and decisive action to protect her kid. Riley eventually makes peace with the fact that her former friends are not the girls she once loved. In my life, I made peace with the fact that the girl who tormented me was in a lot more torment than I could imagine. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but it taught me a lot. Should I have stuck up for myself? Absolutely. But you never know what someone else is going through.

Ten days till my book comes out, gang! Don’t forget (as if I’d let you) that preorders support St. Jude Children’s Hospital. You can order from any vendor via my website: 

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kittyI’m leaving tomorrow for the Romance Writers of America conference, and I’m feeling like the dorky sixth grader I used to be. My clothes are slightly better, and the haircut definitely is, but there’s something eternal about being that kid who never felt like she belonged a hundred percent. Even now, even when I’ll know literally hundreds of my peers and professional colleagues, I’m terrified I won’t have anyone to talk to.



that face you makeWhat is it about never feeling good enough? Birth order? Something from my youth? Strangers who dislike me on social media? Anne who used to beat me up every recess in sixth grade? I have no idea. I want to lean in, own my power (not sure what that really means), channel Serena Williams and all that good stuff, but there’s also a very strong argument to be made for staying in my room. Tragically, this Marriott doesn’t have room service, so I’ll be forced to come out.

I know I’m extraordinarily lucky in my career, and I’ve been blessed with the affection of many, for which I’m incredibly grateful. And yet, I can’t quite shake that dorky middle school version of myself, who loved horses and hated school dances, who gladly babysat on weekends so my calendar wasn’t empty. I kind of liked that kid when she was on her own. It was only in groups that I felt less than. I’d look at my own mother, so socially graceful, so fun,with awe and wonder. I would never be like that.

i know one personExcept I am, sort of. It took a lot of practice, and I’m still a work in progress, but I’ll be out there, meeting and hugging and encouraging. One thing I’ve learned in the writing world—there’s plenty of room for success. Cheering on other authors is absolutely my favorite thing to do at these conferences, whether I’m meeting the next big name or saying hello to one of my idols.

To my twelve-year-old self—hey, kid! You turned out okay. All those books you read…time well spent! Keep working hard. And listen It’s not a bad thing to remember those awkward, misfit feelings if they make you keep an eye out for people who might be feeling the same way.

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Crappy Grandmothers

seriouslyfinalcoverGenevieve London, one of the protagonists of LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES, is not a warm and cuddly grandmother to Emma, her only grandchild for twenty years. She’s critical, opinionated and frosty—not what an eight-year-old needs after the death of her own mother, and not what anyone needs, ever. And yet, Genevieve does her best. She provides every opportunity for Emma. She takes her in, tries to instill certain qualities, but Genevieve’s heart was broken by the loss of her older son decades ago. She admits she’s not a great candidate for child rearing.

If you read this blog, you know that I had a nearly perfect grandmother—my mom’s mom, Gram. My daughter is named after her, and I dedicated a book to her just after she died. She taught me the beauty of the simple pleasures in life, and I adored her.

I had another grandmother, of course. My father’s mother, Nina. We didn’t get along so well. That’s not completely accurate. I liked and loved her just fine for the first decade of my life, maybe more. She didn’t like me. She viewed my birth as my mother one-upping her; Nina had had only my dad. My mom had my brother, but then went on to have first me, then my sister. My birth irritated Nina. I was named after my mother’s family and a clone of that side; my sister had the smarts to resemble our dad a bit more.

I could never understand why Nina didn’t like me, but my childhood was marked by mean little comments and snubs. One Easter, she bought presents for my brother and sister, but not for me, and I hid behind a chair and cried. I think I was four. My dad chewed her out when he discovered this, which didn’t make her warmer or fuzzier toward me. My sister and brother were lovely, as far as she was concerned. I was the sore thumb just by existing. To be honest, I didn’t notice, because my grandfather, her husband, was another perfect person in my life. But after he died, and five years later, when my father died, it became awful. Of course, Nina had suffered the worst thing anyone can suffer: the loss of her only child in a terrible accident.

But rather than take comfort in a granddaughter—or, God forbid, share our grief—she’d call me, full of accusations. “You’re just like your mother. You stole your father from me. I knew. Oh, yes, I knew.” Creepy, wasn’t it?

Still, I drove her to doctors’ appointments and occasionally took her out to lunch, enduring her endless litany of complaints and criticisms, from my haircut to her nasal polyps. And yet…the last time I saw her, after one of these lunches, I walked to my car and looked up at her apartment. And there she was, waving to me, a big arm-swinging wave to make sure I could see her. She was smiling, which was rare. I waved back, bemused. Why couldn’t Nina be nice to me? Why had she been so miserable all morning, only to wave and smile now? Would she call me later and rail at me for being a thief of my father’s affection?

She died a few days later, a massive stroke that dropped her where she stood…a good and merciful way to go. I was glad she was with my dad and Pop-Pop, but I can’t say I grieved her loss. My duty to her was over, and I had been a good granddaughter.

Genevieve is a more complicated and impressive person than my grandmother, but maybe they share some traits, too. The inability to say “I’m sorry.” The dashed expectations of how their lives were supposed to be. Having to deal with an unwanted child. Genevieve shows up and does her best, and as she looks at her long life and meets her great-granddaughter for the first time, she finds herself dealing with an unfamiliar emotion: regret. But maybe this summer, she’ll get a chance to do better.

I hope you’ll love LIFE AND OTHER CONVENIENCES! Don’t forget: preorder, and proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. 

I’ll be swinging through the country on book tour and would love to see you! My tour dates are here.

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Heart’s home

sheerwaterIn LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES (August 6!), there’s a big old house on the water in Connecticut. It has a name—Sheerwater—and is based on an actual house that was for sale a few years back when I was just forming the book. It has twenty-two rooms, a turret, a yoga studio and ten acres of land on a rocky point overlooking Long Island Sound.

rosesWhen I was sixteen, I babysat for a wealthy Connecticut family, and I got to go to such a house for a party, where my job was the herd the children and save their ickle lives should they fall off the private dock. I did so admirably, as I recall…no fatalities, lots of happy kids. But I remember my wonder, even then, at the fact that this family had a massive, beautiful house on the water. I wondered how the heck anyone could afford such a place, let alone as a second (or third) home. It was so beautiful. If it had been mine, I thought, I’d just sit there and look at the ocean and never leave.


hydrangeasMy family does have a little house on the Cape…a sweet little place with wall-to-wall carpeting, a fireplace you can’t use, and knotty pine walls. We’re about a mile from the ocean, but you can see the lighthouse beam at night, and the stars are brilliant. Little bunny rabbits run through the yard, thrilling Willow and Luther. Our yard is overgrown, but the Cape Cod roses still drape over the fence. Yesterday, I spent an hour cutting vines out of the big cedar tree and got quite sweaty and scratched and was very proud of my accomplishments.

It’s not Sheerwater, which is staffed by a housekeeper who hasn’t worked in 20 years and has a cook who seems to hate food. There’s a solarium and a wisteria bower, a library. I wouldn’t mind staying in a place like Sheerwater, but our little Cape house—which we uncreatively call the Cape house—this is my heart’s home.

And by the way, pre-order LIFE, and proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

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Live, love, laugh, scream.


My family has a tradition: whenever possible, scare the bejesus out of someone. One of my earliest memories is my dear old dad, banging on my window with a devil mask tied to the end of a rake. Corpses in the pantry, snakes in the toilet, the good old fashioned Boo!…it makes us happy.

PrincessThis weekend, I was visiting the Princess in Boston, and we happened upon an antiques store. We love antiques and weird old things. This was a wonderful antiques store, because it was bursting with stuff, from old lace to Japanese artwork to furniture and jewelry.

And dolls.

Dolls have a bit of a history in my family.

When my sister was four, she fell off the kitchen counter and split open her chin and nearly bit off her tongue. She was stitched up at the hospital and given a little puppet to distract her from the pain. A hideous thing, really…something rejected by the carnival for being too creepy, I think. The next morning, as my mom used the puppet to try to get my sister to take sips of grape juice, my sister kept saying, “Stoppy. Stoppy!”

In hindsight, she was probably saying, “Stop it! Stop it!” but we thought she was naming the puppet Stoppy.

Whatever. Hilary got better and Stoppy was relegated to a messy corner of her bedroom.

A few months later, our aunt was babysitting when my sister woke up to a scary sound. Our aunt investigated and found our Irish setter chewing on Stoppy’s face, puncturing it with her strong teeth. “It’s still nice,” our auntie lied, and Hilary loved Stoppy more than ever. Someone had to.

santa?So anyway, there we were this weekend, when I found an utterly terrifying Santa. (This picture doesn’t really do him justice, because you can’t see his deformed, tube-like, alien head.) Princess texted my sister with my message: “This hideous Santa reminded me of Stoppy.”

My sister responded a minute or two later: “Oooh. Stoppy is raging mad right now. I can’t guarantee your safety.”

Terrified at the idea that my sister’s deformed, hideous, wounded puppet would somehow come after us, the Princess and I staggered around the store, laughing and trying not to break anything.

dollyOne floor later, we retaliated, saying we had found my sister’s Christmas present—this horrifying doll. (Who would keep this? What kind of monster would try to SELL this to an innocent person?)

Having clearly met Stoppy’s match, my sister begged for mercy, which we only quasi-promised if she’d remove the Curse of Stoppy.



She sent us this instead. Version 2

Ah, love! Family! Laughter! Creepy antiques! There’s nothing better.

I hope you had a nice weekend, too, gang.

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The Quiet Place

higgins pond 003

A long time ago…

For the first time ever, neither of my kids will be home for the summer. The Princess is in Boston at her graduate program and has two part-time jobs; Dearest Son is working in Admissions at his college, doing tour guides and answer phones.

It’s strange. For all these years, summer has been about the kids. The house rhythms and sounds change—creaking floors late at night as they settle into bed after McIrish and me, two rounds of breakfast. Last summer, Dearest worked at Dunkin Donuts and opened the shop, so he’d get up before 3:00 a.m., return home around 10 a.m. and go to bed. The Princess worked a long day last summer, 10 hour shifts, but would be home for dinner every night.


Her Loveliness

But this summer, the house is quiet. No one is upstairs. Their rooms are both tidy and clean. There are no damp towels on the bathroom hooks. No child drives up or down the driveway, and there is no question about who will sit where on the porch in the evening.

It’s a little bit strange. It’s peaceful but a little lonely, in that wonderful heart-achey way…my kids are doing really well out there in the world, happy and independent, as I always hoped they’d be. As I taught for them to be.


My handsome son

So many times, I’ve heard moms say, “I wish they were little again,” in regard to their kids. I vowed never to be one of them. It would be ungrateful to mourn the fact that time had passed, that our kids were alive and thriving, to imply that simply because of the passage of time, children had lost their shine. I love having older kids. Love seeing their names on my phone, love when they text me a picture of what they’re doing, love visiting them. I love the adults they’ve become.

Those summer days when a dishpan of sudsy water could entertain them, when going to the library was an exciting outing, when I’d draw the blackout shades in their room at 7 p.m. and sing them their bedtime songs…those were magical. I know now that remembering those happy, long summers isn’t regret that they’ve grown up. It’s simple appreciation. I don’t wish my kids were little again. I was there for that time, and I loved every day.

the twins

Two little friends, running in our field

But last week, when the four-year-old twins from next door came to visit, I pushed them on the swings my kids had so loved. I took a little movie of the boy and the girl, squeaking in glee, and sent it to Dearest and the Princess. “This brings back happy memories of my two favorite kids,” I said, and both responded. “Aw!” said Dearest. “Hooray!” said the Princess.

How lucky I am to have two such good people as my kids, who understand their mom being a little sentimental, who still refuse to call any place but this house “home.”

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In my little town…

Yesterday, our town held its Memorial Day parade, as I imagine yours did, too. I love the parade. It’s almost exactly the same year after year, and I try never to miss it. This year, I went with my mom; the roads were closed, and she had to drop me off and drive around to park at the church. I crutched it down Main Street; my neighbor and friend, Lois, ran over to say hello, commiserate about crutches and compare our red, white and blue outfits.

majorI made it to the church lawn and sat on the curb, not coincidentally next to a therapy dog and a puppy. Everyone was quite nice about my crutches; one young dad offered me his chair, but I opted for the curb. My other mom, Carol, found me, and then we watched as my sainted mother looked and looked for us, ignoring our bellows of “Mom! Noel! Over here!” It was only my whistle that got her attention.

grand marshalThe parade’s grand marshal was Mr. Rea, a veteran, driven in a car by his son, a former state police officer, and accompanied by his son, an active duty soldier and my son’s classmate. “I babysat him,” I said of Officer Rea. “He loved me.”

“He pulled me over for speeding once,” my mom said. “I said, ‘I taught you catechism, young man,’ and he let me go with a warning.”

bandWe stood for the veterans—a few from WWII, more from Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. The board of selectman walked past—Laura, our first selectman who knows everyone by name. There was Kim, who makes the best cakes and is always so delighted to see everyone. Jen, who started thousands of kids running in her Go Far program, and her beautiful daughter, dressed as Game of Thrones characters with a dragon behind them. My dear friend Christine, the head librarian, dressed as the Cat in the Hat and having a ball on her float. A fleet of antique tractors, as we are a farm town. The three bands—middle school, junior high, high school, filling the air with music and drumbeats, and the flag team, looking so festive. The Boy Scouts carried huge photos of two Connecticut soldiers who died in combat; they didn’t look much older than the Scouts themselves.

The kids on the sports teams pelted us with lollipops, and the orchard folks tossed donut holes in little plastic bags. Carol caught one like she was an MLB outfielder. The firefighters blasted their sirens and air horns, which I love. An old military propeller plane, heavy and gray, thrilled us as it nearly buzzed the parade route.

By the end of the parade, we were best friends with both dogs and their people. Mom helped me get up, then I helped Carol get up, and she handed me my crutches, and we made our way back to the car.

normandyBut what stuck with me most was the sight of the little old man with the World War II Veteran’s cap on, sitting on a float, waving his gnarled hand as we cheered and wiped away a few tears. I hope he knows we remember his service. That we know what he gave. More than likely, he saw friends die, and thought he’d die, too, and that he saw things that he can never forget, no matter how much he might want to. Though it’s a million to one shot, maybe he crossed paths with my grandfathers.

He was probably my son’s age when he did his part to save the world.

It’s good to remember.

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