Across my shaggy lawn replete with an army of dandelion stems standing at strict attention, I watched the event unfold at 7 o’clock this morning. I’m referring to the annual Memorial Day Drive-By of my only living uncle, who snags one of his kids every year to chauffeur him the 10 miles north of his lake cottage on Tippy so he can get a good look-see at ‘Sara’s place’ just outside of Syracuse.
As in past years, an unrecognizable car drives by my property very slowly and predictably turns around in my neighbor’s drive two doors down so they can coast by this time at about 3 mph for Look #2. And just as in past years, the action is repeated at my neighbor’s lane to the south, and I see my uncle’s recognizable face plastered to the window of the small black car during Drive-By #3. I wait patiently here on the couch for the minute or less it takes them to turn around again for what turns out to be his final look-see.
I admit I feel sorry for whatever co-conspirator he forces to enable him to satiate his curiosity so he can pass judgment on whether or not the place is being ‘kept up’; but, really, his trip is at least partially pointless nowadays, since Mother, who looked forward to his reports each year, passed away nearly six years ago at 102. Maybe he thinks he will be able to give an accounting to her on the state of the property she purchased and put in trust for my children when he joins her in the Great Beyond someday, but surely he will have better things on his mind then.
I pause to remember that my uncle is almost 89, still actively farming and calling the shots of his and his grandson’s successful seed corn business. Furthermore, last Thanksgiving when I dropped by his home place, it was surprisingly apparent that he had mellowed way more than I ever thought was possible.
“Give him a good day with his kids and grandkids,” I say to the only One whose opinion about my life matters. “And next year, would it be too much to ask to prompt him to call me beforehand and say he wants to drop by for a visit? I’ll make sure the lawn is freshly mowed and the coffee on.”