A Guest Opinion that I wrote for newspaper


MARCH 31, 2013
Looking into the Rear View Mirror

Tragically, Kristen’s best friend from college died three weeks ago.

Kristen called after the memorial service. “Mom, we don’t know how long we are going to have everybody in our family. People die unexpectedly. We haven’t had a family vacation with everybody for 12 years. Let’s go to North Carolina for Sean’s wedding.”

I had planned to go to my nephew’s Marine Corps wedding with my mother but really did not want to leave my own children for Easter. Not that they are of believing in the Easter Bunny age — they are ages 30, 28, 25 and 22 but I still wanted to celebrate together; make Easter Sunday breakfast and enjoy each other’s company.

I pictured hunting colored eggs in the front yard, all kids standing tall at close to 6 feet … and posing my “adult” children for photos in their spring best.

How would we arrange such a trip? Would the kids really want to go? Be away from their boyfriends and girlfriend for a whole weekend? And what about the expense to rent a van, three nights in a hotel, food along the way and what if someone just did not want to spend such close and personal time with the family?

Kristen added, “I want Dad to come too.”

John and I had been separated for 12 years. But I remembered driving together with our hands clasped for 24 years.

“Sure, Kristen. That would be great.”

I sent an email to everyone. Within an hour, my inbox messages filled my heart with joy.

I’d love to, Mom.

Count me in, Mumsy.

Sure, this is so exciting, Mom.

Can’t wait to go on the road trip, Mom.

I got off from work, Trish.

Ryan reserved rooms at the Marriott, John rented a Town and Country van, Mom Mom offered to pay for the gas, Robin purchased a wedding present, and Kristen, Katelyn and I bought gift cards for favorite restaurants along the route.

When I look into the rear view mirror of a decade ago, I see the smiles of kids cutting out heart-shaped papers; playing a Game Boy, cuddling together under a green and white checkered quilt and tugging on the fur of our unruly collie.

My mind drifts back to the days when I read “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” substituting their names in my mind for Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter.

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were Robin, Katelyn, Kristen and Ryan. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree. They were good little bunnies …

I looked in the “memory box” yesterday and found a wrinkled paper.

February 22, 1992

HOW WE KIDS CAN EARN MONEY: Sell Easter cards, do a camp, have a little job around the house that pays a dollar a day. Shovel snow on driveway, clean all rooms, basement and yard for five dollars. Then go roller skate a lot, go to a movie every now and then and then go ice skating.

As I think of the rearview mirror view of my family in 2013, I see a reflection of a family that didn’t give up.

Our lives were turned inside out at times but the lessons learned over the past decade have made these kids stronger. They are still good little bunnies; their faces reflect hope and promise.

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter. But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

I have my heart set on bread and milk and blueberry pancakes with my family — in some out-of-the-way nook, between Bucks County, Pa., and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Kristen’s friend Kim was the messenger. Spring is on the way, Gallagher Family. Going on a family road trip would really mean a lot to everyone.

It was like a pep talk from Heaven. She must have whispered the words to Kristen.

Over a thousand highway miles to go — passing green meadows, laughing little brooks, and orchards. But most importantly, passing time with the family … and passing out seven woven Easter baskets filled with yellow marshmallow chicks and tiny chocolate rabbits.

I can’t wait to get on the road!

Patricia Gallagher, Chalfont, is the creator of the Team of Angels pins and the director of the Stories for Seniors Project. http://www.teamofangels.com

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