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Two other little tidbits about the Rocket Car party.

On Wednesday afternoon, the day of Austin’s actual birthday and the day before the party, the Rocket Car guy called me up at 3:30 to say, “Just checking in to see if you still want me to come even though it’s raining.”

Hmmm. Well, it was raining. A lot. But I quickly looked up the forecast and said, “Oh no, we’re fine. Tomorrow looks great.”

“Tomorrow? I though you wanted me to come today!”

Ummmmmmm, no. “No, definitely tomorrow.” And my heart was beating as I thought, Oh no. What am I gonna do with all these kids now?

So he checks his calendar, realizes he’d written down the correct date but wrong day and said, “No problem. I’ll be there.”

But thank god it was raining or he would’ve simply shown up at 4:30 on the wrong day and my kids would’ve been like, “Uh, mom? Why’s the Rocket Car in our driveway?”

And then the other funny thing was that when we’d first made the arrangements over the phone, the driver expressed some concern about the rides taking place during rush hour. So I gave him a good route that went east down Fairmount (while all the cars from downtown would be heading west) and then looped around some side streets. Well, as I found out only after some actual grown-ups rode along, he took the kids down Fairmount to Coventry to Cedar and then Lee! All major, crowded  roadways. Can you imagine if you had pulled up to the stoplight next to a bunch of unchaperoned four-year-olds riding an old relic of a roller coaster at the corner of Cedar and Lee??

At least it’s not as bad as these parents….

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I feel like I’ve spent the better part of 2011 complaining about the weather. First, it was the endless snow, waking up every Friday morning to an additional twelve inches of white stuff covering our world. Then it was the endless rain, day upon day of spring spent running from one destination to another, head down and umbrella up, puddles of mud blocking your way. And now, inevitably, it’s July in Cleveland, with its requisite 90 degrees and humidity so thick you start sweating the second you get out of the shower.

I’ve wondered if maybe I’m just getting old, like now I’m grumpy and can’t tolerate what we once thought normal.  But then I listen to the local meteorologists and am strangely comforted by the fact that we do indeed keep breaking new records. We all know this past winter was an extreme case, as evidenced by the five snow days.  I think I had five snow days in my entire young life. They were so rare I can remember them still: One in second or third grade spent in the yard of our Swiss neighbors, the Zuberbeulers (could that really have been their name?) building snow forts and having epic snowball fights. Another (which might have been a cold day, not an actual snow day) in eleventh grade the day before winter vacation that surely wrecked havoc on the teachers’ gradebooks since many papers were due and many tests were scheduled that could hardly be repeated two weeks later. And this year … five. The state legislature actually changed the law in January to increase the allotted days from three to five. So you don’t need me to tell you that this winter was unusually awful.

And then on the first day of May, all the news contained the delightful little fact that we had accumulated more inches of rain in April than in any previous month on record. And then yesterday was the hottest day in sixteen years, since another 98-degree day in July of 1995 (which I spent in the even hotter city of Houston, Texas).

I’m relieved when I hear these reports because I feel vindicated, like at least it’s not me. At least the weather really is as bad as it feels. And I’m not the guy climbing up ladders to install windows or paint the exterior of houses, working six or seven days a week to make up for the lost jobs of springtime.  Nor am I the child (i.e. Braedan) off at camp with the distinct privilege of horseback riding for an hour each day, which  requires wearing jeans and a helmet. So I really shouldn’t complain. But I still do.

But now the storm has come through and cooled things down a good twenty degrees, so it’s out to sit on the front porch swings with my sweetie(s) to enjoy a cool summer evening.

It’s been raining today. Cold, windy rain. As I walked each boy into his respective school this morning, the other parents and I all grumbled good-naturedly to each other: “Yuck,” “Cold,” “Gotta love springtime in Cleveland.” And then I got in the car and caught a snippet on NPR about the documentary Music by Prudence. You know, the one whose Oscar win had its own Kanye West-Taylor Swift moment only this time with unknowns? So this young woman Prudence, whose severe physical disability rendered her an outcast in her African village, abandoned by her family, told the interviewer that the name of their band was an African word for “Rain.” And I thought, “Oh, of course. Here are these disabled youngsters, with no place in society and no home and no future, and they’ve named their band after something that symbolizes sadness and despair, the very opposite of the ray of sunshine representing hope and joy and all things good.”

But then she went on to say that in a dry land like Zimbabwe, rain is considered a blessing. Rain itself represents hope and joy and all things good.  And these young people making beautiful music, when no one thought them capable of anything, much less something so positive, is like the rain that feeds the thirsty land.

Well, wow, now that’s a new way of looking at things. Talk about perspective.

Cancer is like that too. I would prefer we live without it (just as I’m still partial to sunny days) but it does have a way of making us feel fortunate, of making us recognize all that’s good in our lives. Saturday’s walk was just one example. To have so many people come out in the almost painfully cold wind and walk with us is just one small gift that cancer has given us. It wasn’t exactly a sea of red since the weather forced many of us (myself included) to cover up our red t-shirts with purple windbreakers or grey fleeces or blue sweatshirts. But nearly one fifth of the people there were there for Austin.  I stood outside the line of walkers at the beginning to show him how far back his group went and he smiled and nodded from beneath the blanket we’d wrapped him in, because he got it. He knows people love him. We can all feel it.

So, it rains today. But our flowers will grow. And the sun will shine tomorrow.

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