Today is Labor Day, the official end of Summer 2008. In addition to its usual function of marking a seasonal transition, Labor Day weekend always reminds me of my father, whom we buried 25 years ago this weekend. As I write on this Labor Day, I'm struck by the knowledge that this Labor Day also marks an eventful season for our family.
As I write today, Joshua is hunkered down in his dorm at LSU, riding out Hurricane Gustav. We received an email message from him this morning informing us that they had just entered lockdown status and the weather was starting to get worse. We will try to contact him via phone this evening for another update. Dave and I are not unduly anxious for him, we know he'll take care of himself and won't do anything stupid, but we are always reassured when we speak on the phone with him or read an email, even a brief one-liner, saying that everything is okay.
It's also been a life-changing summer for my mother and step-father. Paul had spinal surgery earlier this summer and is now living in a nursing home. He's receiving physical therapy and has made some progress over the summer, but he has a long way to go before he reaches his physical goals. In the meantime, my mother is doing what she can to help him and to run the household. My siblings and I, as well as two of Paul's children, have been deeply involved in doing what we can to support both of them. One or the other of the children (all middle-agers ourselves) is with Mom nearly every weekend. It sometimes feels like we can't do much to help, but even assisting with mundane chores is useful. Having spent most of my adult life living very far away from home, I'm glad that I now live less than 150 miles away and can get home on a regular basis.
My final Labor Day reminiscence is that this is the first Labor Day weekend in at least a decade that our family has not gone camping. Now that the family has grown up, what used to be a family tradition has come to an end. Instead of Dave cooking steaks over the campfire tonight, Jonathan and Maggie will be fixing dinner for the four of us. They'd better be careful, lest they find that they've unwittingly started a new tradition.