Derek and Leslie

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Back in October, we took a short trip to Charleston, West Virginia, to attend the wedding of my cousin Derek and his fiance, Leslie Edwards. This short trip was both a family reunion, and a nice foliage trip, as the West Virginia mountains were wearing their fall colors.

The wedding itself was on October 24.

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The wedding party, under the park pavilion.
Photo by Richard Pugh

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From left to right: Michael, James, Jeanne, Connor, William, Caitlin, and Lisa.
Photo by Richard Pugh

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Derek and Leslie, after the ceremony.
Photo by James Pugh

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Linda, Michael, and Caitlin, and the reception.
Photos by Richard Pugh

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Photo by Richard Pugh

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Photo by James Pugh

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Derek and his mom, Linda.
Photo by James Pugh

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Photo by James Pugh

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Photo by Emily Ferguson Photography

During the reception, cousin Josh performed his fire dance. Yes, he actually knows how to do a Tahitian fire dance! That’s a funny story for another time.

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The next morning, before we all scattered to our various corners of the world, we got together for breakfast at a local restaurant. Pugh’s and O’Connors from all over the East coast!

Front row, left to right: Connor, William, Me, Michael, Caitlin, Jennifer, and Carlton.

Back row, left to right: Gretta, Tom, Jeanne, James, Lisa, Chip, Josh, Muri, and Linda.

Photo produced by Jennifer O’Connor

And that concluded an enjoyable, but all-too-short, family reunion.

Happy Birthday, Michael!

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Today is Michael Vincent’s third birthday. That means he is now out of the terrible twos, and into the terrorizing threes. He’s had a big year! He’s finally starting to communicate, mostly by pointing and by using pictures. He even started preschool in August!

Here are some images of My Son the Cyborg, from 2015.

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From my birthday dinner at the Park Lane Tavern in Fredericksburg, back in February.

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Playing at Yowell Meadow Park, in March.

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Hanging out at Mountain Run Lake Park, in April.

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At the Fireman’s Carnival, in May.

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Being a boxtroll, in June.

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Strolling down the road near our house, in early July.

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During the Chicago trip, in July.

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Hanging out with the family at Lenn Park, near Culpeper, in September. His mom and grandparents are in the background.

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Two views from a school field trip to Round Hill Farm, in early October.

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Halloween, 2015, as Captain America!

Caitlin, meanwhile, was Black Widow. Avengers assemble!

Buried roots

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Operation Bandicoot: Day 1, July 10

We left home at 1:30pm on Friday, July 10. Our destination for the night was Zanesville, Ohio. We figured this was as far as we could reasonably expect to go on half a day’s travel. In terms of travel conditions, this first leg of the trip was perhaps the worst, as there is no easy way to get through the Appalachian mountains. The biggest problem we had were patches of construction, where traffic was painfully slow. The second biggest problem we had was at the hotel that night: Michael refused to go to sleep! As a result, we didn’t get an early start the next day, which we had hoped to do. Oh well.

Day 2: July 11

We left Zanesville around 10:00am, and started for the Dayton area, where we had two stops planned. The first was the historic Woodland Cemetery and Arboretium, where two members of my family are buried. This wasn’t exactly a cheerful stop, but it was one I felt compelled to make.

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The first stop was my paternal grandmother, Barbara. I’ll be perfectly honest: I had mixed feelings about this. I didn’t know her well, and what I did know about her wasn’t all good. She was an easily disturbed woman who didn’t treat my father and uncle at all well, and her perspective on many things was… skewed. In fact, she was known to completely re-write history here and there. It would be pretty fair to say that she was a mess, and the effects of her behavior can still be felt in various ways. I’m trying, as best as I can, to put this in perspective, and leave it in the past where it belongs. She didn’t have much peace during life. Perhaps she has some now.

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Our second stop was my aunt Mary Pat, who passed away last October. In contrast, I have many good memories of my aunt Mary Pat, though I’ll admit she was often hard to understand. For a while, when I was young, she nicknamed me Bunny Foo Foo, because I sang it for her once, and apparently it cracked her up. I hope she’s getting a good rest.

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Our third stop wasn’t family, but historical: Orville and Wilbur Wright, inventors of the airplane. These two brothers had a bicycle shop in Dayton, and there they developed what would become the first functioning fixed-wing aircraft. History has told this story fairly well, so I won’t rehash it here. The two brothers and one of their sisters are buried in a large family plot in Woodland Cemetery, along with their parents and some other relations.

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Our next stop was a nursing home in the nearby town of Englewood, where Mary Pat’s widower, Gary, lives. What can I say about Gary? He’s a funny guy. I remember him always being quick with jokes and witty remarks, some of which were entirely inappropriate. But he always managed to get a laugh. He’s not nearly as active as he used to be, thanks to two strokes during the last ten years. But one could say that while he’s a lot slower these days, the lights are still on upstairs. I’ll admit that it was difficult to see him in his debilitated state, but at the same time it was good to see that he was still good ole, fun Uncle Gary. In all seriousness he probably doesn’t have much time left, but I suspect he’ll keep those nurses laughing up until the end.

As well he should.

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After visiting Gary, we had a leisurely lunch before continuing our journey. Apparently I was looking pretty glum, because at one point during lunch Lisa asked me what was wrong. I confessed to having been “crying on the inside.” A lot of emotions were running about that day.

At any rate, we left Englewood around 3:00pm, and continued. All in all, the traveling through the rest of Ohio and Indiana was without incident. The last hour, in the Chicago area, however, was quite an adventure. I came to the conclusion that speed limits are viewed as polite suggestions in Chicago, and aren’t taken seriously as laws. At one point I was (out of necessity) doing 70 in a 55 zone, and someone whipped past me on the left as if I was standing still! According to Lisa’s uncle, that’s a pretty common occurrence in the Windy City.

We arrived at Lisa’s aunt and uncle’s house in Crystal Lake around 10:00pm EST. (We had to change our clocks to Central Time.)

And no, this isn’t the same Crystal Lake where an undead psychopath in a hockey mask goes around with a machete.

Next: Get your motor running


Related articles:

  • Operation Bandicoot
  • The long, winding road
  • Mary Pat Peck
  • The long, winding road…

    Pugh-stone

    The last few months have been difficult for me. The reality of my mother’s death didn’t really hit me until around Easter. Let’s just say I was very depressed, and my mind went into a very dark place. Mother’s Day was equally difficult.

    With both of my parents gone, my connection to the past is now gone. Until that point, I had an anchor, and a connection. When times were bad, I could always turn to Mom for advice. I can’t do that anymore. If I no longer have an anchor, it’s because now I am the anchor. When I looked at my family tree, it used to be that I was one link in a chain. But now, there is no one ahead of me. I am no longer part of a line, but the beginning of one. And since I am at the beginning of my family line I am now, arguably, part of the outgoing generation.

    I have become very aware of my own mortality. I have already seen and read about people in my age bracket dying. Lately I’ve been thinking about what I want to do or experience, and finding out what would be needed to make those things happen. I should have another twenty or thirty years, so I shouldn’t have to rush. But my time is still finite, and I’m quite certain that the time before me is shorter than the time behind. So I shouldn’t just sit around and wait for things to fall into place. Whatever was going to fall into place has, by now, already done so. The rest is up to me.

    To anyone reading this, I would advise you to pursue whatever dreams and goals you can, while you still have time available. If you’re young, reach for the sky, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re old, enjoy the memories of your successes, no matter what they are. But at the same time, look around. You may still have time to squeeze in another dream or two. If you’re in the middle, like me, draw a line between the flighty dreams of childhood and the attainable ones of maturity, aim at one of the later, and forge ahead.

    It’s been said so many times that it’s a cliche, but we only live once. Make it count.