Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Archive for August, 2022

The Other Side of the Stethoscope: Sunday musings…8/28/2022

1 Chicago. Great little town, especially if you have a native friend to give you pointers.

2 Chicago. Great little band. Went to see a regional cover band last night with friends. Very good musicians, but as is so often the case the lead vocals are what separate the Major Leaguers from Triple A. Still, some music is just so good that you go just to sing along.

3 Whoop. As I sit on the porch at Casa Blanco there is an infomercial on the tube taking up space before the FedEx Cup begins. Whoop, as you may know, is the activity tracker that is the darling of professional athletes of all kinds. Unable to track activity-specific metrics (like a CrossFit WOD, for example), it is really little more than a steps tracker with a heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, and what looks like an HRV (heart rate variable) tracker. The schtick is that it provides you with a recovery “number” that you can use to determine your level of fitness and your readiness for the next work-out.

This particular informercial joins Justin Thomas, a PGA tour pro who is arguably at the top of his game, with Michael Phelps, the 20+ time Olympic gold medal swimmer. Phelps, like so many retired athletes before him, has used his newfound spare time to fall in love with golf. On the infomercial the two are playing a casual round of golf, goofing around in a hotel-like gym, and talking about the importance of recovery for all athletes. They are hawking the Whoop as the way to do so.

I have nothing against the Whoop. Heck, it may be the only stand-alone fitness tracker that I haven’t tried. There are a couple of points to be made after watching Thomas and Phelps talk about recovery. First, they are correct. Not only from the viewpoint of the elite athlete but also for washed-up ex-athletes and never-was newcomers to athletics of all kinds. I once wrote (although I’m sure it wasn’t original) that under-training and over-training both result in a reduction of your ultimate outcome. HRV-based recovery data is the best option I found in my 15+ year odyssey in the fitness tracker world.

The second point is that we have reached a point in the evolution of the tech that prices have fallen. Whoop is expensive. The business model is to pay a monthly subscription fee of $30 or so in perpetuity. I think that’s a lot of money. You can pay less than $360 once and get everything you need to track the same metrics with most trackers. I use one called a Biostrap which I like very much. As an aside it will also do an adequate job of tracking exercise specific activities if you add a shoe-worn monitor.

Bottom line: the pro golfer and the pro swimmer have similar needs when it comes to tracking sleep and recovery as do the amateur golfer and the CrossFitter.

4 Stethoscope. Everyone except the unlucky will eventually find themselves on the other end of a stethoscope. While my life has been filled as much as anyone with visits to that place, for the first time in my life I, a physician, am about to experience the entirety of what it feels like to be a patient in the U.S. healthcare system.

Let’s be super clear about the background for what comes next. Since entering medical school as a 22yo in 1982 I have been treated as a VIP at the very least. As the years have gone by it has been more akin to a B-list celebrity if I’m being honest. I’ve never waited for an appointment in my adult life. Obstacles of any and all types magically disappear when I need to see a doctor or get a test. When I’ve needed surgery my docs and their staff have bent over backward to make sure that it happened when and where it was most convenient for me. In return for taking care of our colleagues patients, doctors of my era and the one that just followed us took loving care of each other (and their families). We no longer get comped when it comes to fees, mind you. But when able the docs who have shared patients have taken a deep interest in not only our mutual care, but also how we feel while getting it.

So what’s different now? Well, first a bit of a preamble. My right hip, the good one, has failed me spectacularly over the last several months. Where once I had minimal pain in my left hip that accelerated with activity and prompted a replacement in 2019, this one hurts all day every day. Like the left hip it doesn’t keep me from doing my job, it just hurts this time. No big deal, right? Just get this one replaced just like the other one and go on about your life. Sadly for me, and wonderfully for him, the surgeon for my first hip retired 3 months before I needed him again. I would have to have someone else do this next hip, but my friend picked out the guy he planned to have do HIS surgery when the time came. A surgeon from another system across town who literally has no idea who I am, and wouldn’t care less even if he did.

Welcome to American medicine Eyeball Boy.

For the first time in my adult life I will be a regular patient. Number whatever, hip number X on the day of the surgery headed for Room Y. Show up at the appointed time. No, we can’t tell you what time that is before hand. Why? Because. Pre-admission testing WILL take place live and in person on this particular day at this exact time. No, we cannot change that because you have a full schedule of patients to see in your office that day. Did you reply to our daily reminder email? Did you? Hey, we’re talking to you. We don’t care that you’re a doctor over there; you’re not one over here. Reply or your slot can go to the next number on our list.

Has it really been like that? Well, in the beginning, sure. Why wouldn’t it? That’s what my patients complain about when we have to refer them out to large institutions because we have so few private practice referral options remaining. But to be honest, I understand the system very, very well, and as soon as I started to find my way to a live person on a phone stuff started to loosen up a bit. It surely helped a bit to be assigned to a PA who is an ex-college athlete raising elite athletic children; we’ve got tons to talk about, including her very strong thoughts on whether I should return to CrossFit after my recovery. And it surely made me feel a whole lot better when my cardiologist came in for a visit and scheduled me for a pre-op stress test on his phone before he left my office. When it came back suspicious he worked me in for a cardiac cath, and the cardiologist who would be doing it did my informed consent after we finished with HIS appointment in my office. (It was negative. Phew).

It may sound like I’m complaining, whining even, but I’m really not. It’s not that I’m worried that things won’t go well with the surgery. This is still the U.S., my surgery is one that is done hundreds of thousands of times each year, and the buddy who did my first hip handpicked my surgeon. Medically it will likely be a non-event. No, after all of this, the really crazy hard part about being just a regular patient will be not knowing a soul where I will have my surgery and where I will recover. No one. No nurses I’ve taken care of or physical therapists whose Mom I just did cataract surgery on. No one who has had a glass of wine at Casa Blanco is gonna be there if I have trouble with my bladder. I will be mostly alone in my room; Beth will be kept out like all family members because of the institutional madness around the Pandemic.

It had to happen someday. Despite years of medical attention directed at various and sundry stuff, ailments and health risks, with multiple surgeries along the way. After 40 years I finally find myself in the most usual and normal place for a 62 year old man. I am, for the first time in my adult life, fully and completely on the other end of the stethoscope.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

The Importance of Making the Choice. Sunday musings…8/21/2022

A couple of months ago my young buddy Blake, a rising rockstar in the world of my day job, asked me to co-host a series of episodes on the podcast he hosts called “Ophthalmology Off the Grid” (launched a few years ago by another young friend Gary). As the invited co-host it was my job to pick the topics for three episodes, and to suggest some guests that would make the podcasts interesting. Now, as anyone who has ever read my drivel knows, I am cut from a different cloth when it comes to your standard issue eye surgeon. The topics that Blake and I chose, and the guests who were invited, reflected my “out on the edge” perspective of our professional lives and life in general.

For reasons that I will explore next week, my brother-in-law Pete, the mad genius, brought up one of our favorite authors, Blake Crouch. Pete and I have long been exploring all kinds of esoteric stuff, lots of it involving deep, unsolvable questions, often through the lens of quantum physics. One of our favorite topics is whether something like an afterlife exists, or could exist. Quantum physics postulates that our universe may only be one among an infinite number of universes, all of which comprise the “multiverse”.

Our guests on one of the episodes of the podcast were two female ophthalmologists, close to me in age and both dear friends of mine, each of whom had made significant choices early on that had profound impacts on the arc of their careers. Like me, after the pivotal decision I made in my early 30’s not to travel to speak or consult, Lisa and Maria decided as young surgeons that they would make their careers priority 1A, a notch below the priority that they would assign to the health of their growing families.

Which brings me back to my brother-in-law Pete and one of our favorite books.

The book “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch continues to provoke. A brilliant physicist and his girlfriend, a supremely talented painter, discover that she is pregnant. They have just begun dating. The pregnancy is a classic crossroad. Which way to go? End the pregnancy, go their separate ways, and pursue the limits of their individual gifts, or follow their emotions and make a go of being a family? In the novel they choose to have the child and marry, settling into a life dedicated to home, in which their respective brilliances are applied to the mundane work of supporting the family. They seem to be quite in love, and their little family of three appears to be well to the happy side of the Bell Curve. Did they make the right decision? A reviewer for the WSJ opines that they “settled for, well, mediocrity.”

Had they, though? It turns out that the young physicist is an expert in Quantum Physics, his specialty the study of “quantum superposition” (Google: Schroedinger’s Cat). His area of research is that of creating a portal to the “multiverse” of infinite possibilities, one of which, of course, is the one in which the couple did decide to choose their individual paths. He solves the riddle of Schroedinger’s Cat, gains access to the multiverse, and both versions of the physicist are able to examine the path not taken.

What do you think the physicist who chose his career over marriage and family discovered? The one who chose family over career and eventual fame? I won’t ruin the story for you by answering those questions, but I will hazard a tiny ‘spoiler’ by taking issue with the WSJ reviewer: the young couple who chose family over devotion to career settled only for mediocrity in their professions. They had simply applied other parts of who they were to their fullest expression in the pursuit of excellence at home, as a more careful reading of the early part of the book makes clear.

Like Maria and Lisa.

The point? Lots of them, actually. Each of us faces more than a few truly epic, life-altering decisions where we stand at the crossroad. Which way should we turn? The tragedy is not in choosing the wrong path; it is in not choosing at all. Simply drifting through that crossroad without committing to the decision is likely what sows the seeds of regret if things don’t turn out just quite so. In reality, we don’t get to observe what it looks like at the end of the road not taken. Certainly not like the physicist who managed to turn himself into the cat that lived.

“He had his life—it was not worth much—not like a life that, though ended, had truly been something. If I had had courage, he thought, if I had had faith.” –James Salter, “Light Years”.

Lisa, Maria, and I offered our experiences to our friend Blake as he approaches a similar crossroad in his young career. Like the physicist and the artist, we chose the path that led first to home; we have no regrets. The antidote to regret lies in the knowledge that one must have the courage to acknowledge the crossroad before you, and the courage to make a choice. What inoculates us as we continue down that path is an unwavering faith that we made the best choice we could at that time, at that crossroad.

Faith that lead us to commit to the best possible destination in our one, singular universe.

I’ll see you next week…


“They may say I can’t sing, but they can never say I didn’t sing.” –Florence Foster Jenkins.

I’m a bachelor this weekend. Beth is in Columbus at a horse show, just killing it, while I languish here in The Land with the dogs. Much of what a summer typically includes has been stolen by the traitorous behavior of my “good hip”. Where my left hip only announced its intention to desert my body when I was active, my right hip demands my attention during all waking hours. I am home taking call for our practice to clear the decks for my September surgery and recovery.

Because I was home and free of any real responsibilities I was able to attend the retirement party for a woman with whom I have worked since my very first day in the OR in Cleveland 31 years ago. Mary Kay was my first scrub nurse, and she went on to run one of the surgery centers where I operate for 18 years or so. All in all it was a lovely affair, held at an Irish pub in homage to Mary Kay’s heritage, and attended by about a hundred folks who also worked with her over the years. As an aside I had a number of funny encounters at the bar. Remember, we are a group of people who generally only see each other in surgical scrubs, and for 2+ years no one has seen anyone’s entire face under our masks. A couple of the youngsters were quite funny when they finally recognized me “wearing clothes”!

At 62, with 32 years as a working doc under my belt, it appears that I have reached a stage where retirement is kind of an expectation. At least on the part of those folks with whom I’ve worked for decades, and especially, I guess, at someone else’s retirement party. Almost all of the folks I’ve known for more than 10 years at the party asked about my own retirement plans. Having the good fortune to have several close friends who have had the good fortune to already be retired, and to have retired well, and having spent many an hour hashing this out with Beth, I’ve come up with a very honest answer, however frustrating to me, at least, it turns out to be.

Retiring FROM what I am doing now isn’t enough; I need to have something that I will retire TO.

Beth, the good looking, smart member of the couple, has made it quite clear that I am not going to be allowed to retire to HER. My wife is not going to be my hobby, my go-to activity. At least not 24/7. Nope, I’m going to have to come up with something that I wake up looking forward to doing each day, and fall asleep at night happy that I did it. I need to come up with some activity that I am passionate about. Funny, all of the men I chatted with last night had a kind of blank look on their faces when I gave them this answer. All of the women had a knowing smile and nodding heads, congratulating Beth on her perspicacity and resolve.

Which got me to thinking about Florence Foster Jenkins and the movie of the same name about her.

Mrs. Jenkins was a socialite in NYC, I believe, who was quite passionate about singing opera. She had the financial wherewithal to produce her own performances in a rather major way. A pivotal scene in the eponymous movie about her takes place at Carnegie Hall, for example. There was only one problem with that, at least as far as it went for the spectators: Mrs. Jenkins was a terrible opera singer. Actually, she was epically, brutally bad at singing opera. Yet, again and again, she went to the well and sang her heart (and her lungs) out in front of an audience.

My instant, deep emotional response to this story is jealousy. Jealousy followed by mad respect. Jealousy because Mrs. Jenkins has a passion, something about which she cares so deeply that she is willing to pursue it to whatever limit her abilities might impose. Respect because she is willing to devote time and resources to this pursuit in spite of the fact that she will never come anywhere near anything that even approaches proficiency, let alone excellence. More than that, she insists on sharing the fruit of her labor publicly, even though she is told time and time again that her particular fruit is inedible. No matter. Florence Foster Jenkins will sing.

Retired or not, everyone should have a passion like this. We should add a tiny disclaimer or two, of course. There are a few things that shouldn’t be done by amateurs or hobbyists, no matter how passionate they may be about them. Neurosurgery comes to mind. Or operating heavy equipment, even if you didn’t take any of those medicines that are advertised on TV where you have to choose between your health or, you know, driving a backhoe. If your passion is harmful to you or those around you it’s probably more psychopathic than passion. As an aside, this is why I have shied away from a deeper dive into wine. Short of that, though, the kind of passion shown by Mrs. Jenkins is to be envied, something to aspire to.

For many years now my own life has been missing this. Outside of my marriage and my family there isn’t really anything I burn for like Mrs. Jenkins burns to sing. The stuff that I might have pursued has either been systematically taken away by injury (golf) or circumstances beyond my control (CrossFit). I do get to watch this magical phenomenon on a daily basis though. Beth had long yearned to ride horses. When our kids had gone off to college she finally had her chance. The barn is her happy place. A funny thing happened for her that makes our collective experience very different from Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. Somewhere along the way to a “time-filling hobby of a 50-ish homemaker”, Beth actually started to get good. I mean good enough that even a knuckle-dragging ex-CrossFitter spouse could see the difference. Good enough that she outgrew the ability of her horse, necessitating first an effort to breed a successor and then an epic trip to Spain to import her new partner.

Doing the work has never felt like work for her—that might define passion, eh?–and there has been a payoff: she is still getting better at riding. This weekend she achieved what 15 years ago would have been unimaginable: she earned a bronze medal riding at a level that is at least 5 above where she started (and higher than any trainer we can find for her to ride with in the winter when we visit Megan). As if that isn’t enough, she got her first score above 70 (trust me, a big deal) riding Hero to music in the discipline known as Freestyle. Again, a level higher than she ever expected to compete. 61 and still riding her passion to new heights.

I am equal parts awestruck and jealous.

As for me, as I shared with all who asked at the party last night, I will go on in search of that thing that makes me want to put everything aside and just do. That thing that I might “retire to”. That thing—singing for Foster Jenkins, riding for Beth—you think about when you are doing almost everything else. If you are one of the lucky ones who’ve already found yours, I extend to you the same jealousy and mad respect I have for Mrs. Jenkins and my wife. For those of you who are like me, I wish you good fortune in your search, and remind you that the search is worth the effort.

Never, ever, ever let anyone tell you that you cannot sing.

I’ll see you next week…

Cape Week: A Loving Memorial. Sunday musings…8/7/2022

As she headed out the door and off to the barn Beth looked over her shoulder: “What’s your plan for today?” I replied that it was Sunday, the Sunday at the end of Cape Week. I thought I should sit down and write a bit. The annual trip isn’t really over until I write about it.

Each morning as I sit and contemplate the night before and the day ahead, I peruse the memories on my Facebook feed. Around this time of year they are filled with thoughts about the Crossfit Games, and musings on both the front and back ends of what is universally known around me as Cape Week. To be fair, having drifted away from the Crossfit world these last few years, I only this morning discovered that one of my friendly acquaintances from here in Ohio placed second in the Masters 50-54 competition. In years past I would have watched every second of his quest. Now all that remains for me in August is what has been part of August for 31 years now:

What remains of Cape Week.

As I predicted 6 years ago when I wrote about Cape Week on the way home after Year 25, change has come for Cape Week. Have you been reading Random Thoughts for long? If so, then you know the story of Cape Week and I ask for your forbearance as I tell it once again for those who may be unfamiliar. Beth and I are both first-borns. More than that, among our siblings we ended up doing pretty much everything first. First to marry and so first to have in-laws. First to have children, and so first to receive all manner of “help” in parenting them. Long after the start of Cape week we were also first to have a child marry, gaining in-laws in law, and along with that the first to have grandchildren of our own.

In-laws bring with them the expectations and desires of another family. For sure there are all kinds of new “must attend” events, but it is the two great American holidays that become the flashpoints of discontent, especially in families that do not settle together. Who will host Thanksgiving and Christmas, and more importantly, who will be there? With the appearance of in-laws for my youngest sister we four siblings and our spouses realized that there were no easy options to make all 5 sets of our parents “holiday happy”. Our response? At least for the extended White Family, we would create our own holiday, a week together at the beach. My sister Tracey found a 5 bedroom house across a sand road from the beach, and in July of 1992 Cape Week was born.

For 25 years we had a kind of growing Groundhog Day week. We gathered in the main house (to which we added a spill-over cottage next door in year 4) for meals, games, and naps. Each day was spent almost entirely on the beach. Even Dad, not in any sense a beach guy, would fill up a beach chair and be at least a part of the scenery (as an aside, this is part of what informed my description of him, and my father-in-law, as “garden gnome” grandfathers: fun to play around, but they didn’t really play back). Eventually there was a total of 10 grandchildren, none of whom lived in the same town, and all of whom have become friends because for one week each year they were together on the beach.

It was quite rare for anyone to leave the compound in those first 25 years. Nor were visitors invited in, to be honest. During the years of “Cape Week Classic” it was the extended White Family, period. We are a family of habit, tradition. Comically so, in some instances. Saturday night dinner? Always barbecued chicken. Friday night finale? Pizza. The change from Joey’s to Paradise, years overdue, took one full week to bring about. No, while growth (we had young kids!) was occurring, change was not a part of Cape Week. With the exception of medical crisis, for 25 years we all came and we all stayed.

What does it take to pull off something that remained so much the same for 25 years? I’ve reposted my “musings…” from year 25 just below. Quite frankly no one can really say, and what I said 6 years ago is probably as well as I will personally ever be able to say it. Four couples committed to a week together with one parent/in-law, and then did whatever it took to make it happen for 25 years. It is now year 31, and as I predicted, our 25th year on the Cape was, indeed, the last of what I, at least, would call Cape Week.

The winds of change had blown through our week at the beach, as we all knew, or should have known they would, though each of us in our own way held out a tiny bit of hope that they wouldn’t. Dad passed away. Mom now only makes short “ceremonial” stays on the beach itself, and only a few at that. One sibling has a medical condition that for the most part keeps them off the beach. The daily walks together with my siblings and in-laws weren’t possible for me because I need a new hip. Only one grandchild remains in college; the rest hold jobs with little vacation to spare for their parents’ in-laws. Only two of five great-grandchildren have ever felt the sand of our sacred beach between their toes. In year 1 of Cape Week there were 10 adults and 5 children together for 7 days and 6 nights. For year 31 we had 9 adults and 3 children.

No one was left for pizza on Friday.

What a run it was, though! At the end of Year 25 I sobbed in the night before we left, as I kissed the beach goodbye, and while I wrote my “musings…”. What my siblings, our spouses, our children and I had come to know as Cape Week had, indeed, run its course at the end of that week, and if we never returned it was a run for the ages. 25 years! Everyone there all day, every day, every year. Although I did leave behind a tear or two during my annual kiss of thanks to our beach, these tears were not only tears of sadness as they were in the past. No, these were also tears of gratitude for what this beach, this Week has meant to our family and done for our family. For the friendships among the cousins. The love among the four couples. For my parents.

But they were also tears of joy. Some time over the week it finally came to me that another Cape Week tradition, a wholly new and different one, had actually started in year 26. Different, yes, but once I realized that, everything changed for the good. We had 25 years of Cape Week. As a family and as families we were blessed beyond reason. And for 6 years we’ve had something else. We can still call it Cape Week, of course, even though it’s different. But I didn’t cry on the way home, and I’m not crying while I write this. Each of the last 6 years has been unique, yet if you think about it–if you allow yourself to admit it–each of those years was just as lovely in its own right as all of those first 25 years were.

Some part of our family was together on “our” beach.

Winds of change have blown through Cape Week, but these last 6 years have shown that our love and fidelity to the goals we once had, and the memories we created over 25 years and will now share for eternity, need not be carried away by that breeze. Cape Week has changed. We have changed, all of us. But Cape Cod and our sacred beach remain, there for whomever may wish to gather for however long they wish to stay.

We will experience joyful change (graduations, marriages, births), and eventually loss and sorrow. We once chose to be together, and for 25 years we ritually did so. Have we closed the door on the house and driven away one, last, final time? I don’t know. I doubt it. While the ritual is gone, we may be fortunate enough to make the same choice we’ve now made 6 times, if not always, at least on occasion. We can choose. Cape Week, for all of its intensity over the years, has changed with us as we have changed along the way. The setting is the same; the story and the characters a bit different each time the book is opened. Who knows? There may be 25 more years, each one as unique and different from the last as years 1-25 were the same.

Year 25 actually WAS the last year of Cape Week as we first knew it. Cape Week has been reborn. It just took me 6 years to realize it.

A Memory: Cape Week Musings, Year 25

Sunday musings…

The beach was chilly, the water a boiling mass of foam, yet the sand was smooth and calm. Unaffected. Doubtless, it had seen this before. My eyes began to leak. It must have been the wind. Yes, that’s it. The wind. I stood there in silence, struggling to fix the image in my mind. I knelt down to kiss the sand of my beloved beach. With a shirtsleeve to stem the flow from my eyes I walked away from 25 years of family history and toward the beginning of a new story.

What does it take to bring together an entire family for 7 days under one roof, every year, for 25 consecutive years? Why even start in the first place? Once upon a time families were born, grew, and died in a single town or small group of neighboring towns. Getting together was a given. Holidays presented a challenge born of access: who would host whom for what occasion at what time and for how long? Your Mom or your spouse’s Mom for Thanksgiving or Christmas or whenever. A cousin’s graduation might be a life-or-death obligation, attendance mandatory. Proximity rendered this moot, but we moved away.

First borns both, Mrs. bingo and I married first and had the first grandchildren. We hit every adulting stage before any of our siblings. This meant encountering in-law issues first as well. Where would we go and when? Sticky wicket, that. The solution, at least for the White family was the creation of a separate holiday totally removed from any established American tradition. We would all go to the beach together, just like we did as kids. Thus began “Cape Week”.

How do you get 4 young couples, all of which had multiple children to return time and again to the same place at the same time to do pretty much the same stuff each year for 25 years? It could be having a parent everyone was afraid of, or another no one wanted to disappoint. For sure having BOTH was a key component. Through every milestone each little family plowed through and found a way to make it to Cape Cod each year to spend every waking moment together in our little compound. Only serious illness kept anyone away. Over the years change did eventually come in the way of summer jobs for the grandchildren, which led as such things do to real, live adult jobs with little vacation time. That and of course, another generation of in-laws for our children to now contend with. Whispers of change were on the winds these last couple of years, but still, almost everyone was there for almost the whole week each summer.

I know what you’re thinking. Somehow it must have been easy for us. There must have been some sort of massive bribe, or something. Nope. What it took was a ton of commitment and hard work by four (now not so) young couples to make Cape Week happen. One family came from California for several years, another from the Midwest. There were summer camps that were never attended, All-Star teams made but All-Star Games missed. The classic teen rebellions against family were quashed, all 10 cousins showing up many more years than not. Invitations to vacation alternatives were graciously turned down, and every “how come always your family” discussion always ended with some version of “we can do that, too, just some other week.”

Cape week itself took hard work and commitment. Four families, 10 kids, and two grandparents together for meals, beach games, TV at night, and forays en masse to the ice cream shop. It could be a little bit cramped, even with the addition of a second cottage in year 4. Those 10 cousins from homes scattered all over America have grown up to be friends who know an amazing amount about each other despite their age differences and lack of proximity. For instance, 10+ summers of having the “college talk” with their aunts and uncles is uniformly one of their WORST memories. Yet there they were as well, every summer in which there was no unavoidable conflict. Until this year.

Why now? Why this, our 25th year, are we now closing the book on the last chapter of Cape Week? The easy answer is the loss of one of those grandparents, my Dad. It really doesn’t matter whether he was the one we were afraid of or the one we didn’t want to disappoint, I think it’s more a matter of needing both to make something like Cape Week a forgone conclusion. That one singular loss seems to have opened the door for each family to consider the value of Cape Week to their individual families. To think the heretofore unthinkable: something is more important to our family unit than the annual assembly of the extended family.

Is that it then? Is it over, 25 years and out?

It’s been an extraordinary run. Not a one of us knows a soul who’s even heard of a family that pulled off something like this. What is clearly over is Cape Week written in stone, and while that has always been inevitable if any of us ever really gave it any thought, it is quite sad nonetheless. We will continue to rent the main house, installing Gram for a week in the same chair at dinner, on the same spot on the beach. A calendar will say that it’s number 26, but it will be different. A new Cape Week, year number 1, invitations soon. Who will come?

If I close my eyes I can still see my beach. See it, as it has been these 25 years. With my eyes closed I see my Mom and Dad, young and vibrant, surrounded by babies and toddlers covered in sand and seaweed. There’s my brother and his wife, my sisters and their husbands, my darling Beth. We’re all together. My eyes have begun to leak again and it’s all a blur. There’s a breeze in my house; there must be a window open. Yes, that must be it, an open window has let in the wind.

The winds of change have finally come for Cape Week.

You are currently browsing the Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind blog archives for August, 2022.