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Sunsets and Giggles

Family members reunite, refresh, recreate and recall at a familiar resort.

by Fran LoBiondo

Fran LoBiondoWe are back from our vacation in the mountains of New York. It has been about nine years since we visited our favorite Irish resort and it has changed little despite the coronavirus rules.

Two of our families ate our meals in the dining room, which was set up to provide easy social distancing since so many guests chose to eat outside under a tent or under a shaded table near the bar. Two of our families chose that.

At first, I was disappointed, because the dining room was always the place where we gathered and talked in past years. We met for breakfast with sleepy eyes and frowsy hair and jazzed up toddlers raring to get to the playground to meet their cousins. Putting children down to sleep in an unfamiliar place often becomes a great big game of whack-a-mole. Not much sleep happens until the babes stop popping up. Hence, no rest for the weary grown-ups.

We had one day of torrential rain that left us scrambling for things to do, but the rest of the days were sunny and beautiful. The pool water was warm enough to swim in—unless you were me. I need it to be 98.6 degrees or no soap.

Fortunately, on this trip, the grown-ups outnumbered the children two to one, so there was no reason for me to dive in.

We celebrated our grandson Ben for his third birthday one night after dinner. The cake was huge, chocolate and super-rich.

We chowed down a few days before his actual date, because the family was already gathered together and everyone at home was not travelling or socializing yet. We gave him and his cousins a good time, birthday or not, and no one got hurt.

It was a fairly relaxing trip but for two events—one was when our niece, Erin, took sick and had to go to the local hospital for an infusion of fluids, something that happens periodically with the condition she has. It’s scary for the parents, though, since per Covid-19 rules, no one can ride in the ambulance with her and they can’t visit her in the emergency room. They finally admitted her to a room at 4 a.m., and they kept her for two days. She felt better, but she was a little miffed at missing a huge chunk of her vacation.

My brother, sister and I and our spouses tried at one point to count how many times our kids needed hospital care while in the Catskills. There was the time the cousins were all holding hands on the dance floor playing “Snap the Whip,” in which they ran faster and faster hanging on until the whip cracked and someone flew off. This time, it happened to poor Katie, whose hand slipped, and she slammed right down on her chin. She had to have stitches. There were two runs for Julia, whose peanut allergy needed emergency attention, and our Therese, who was treated twice in the same week, once for pinkeye and once for walking pneumonia.

The day before we left for home, there was another unfortunate incident.

At our hotel, there were rooms in the back of the property and some facing the road. We stayed in the back.

Around noon, an SUV full of family members drove off the road and into one of the rooms, injuring one unsuspecting guest.

It’s a small town, so gapers gathered in droves to watch the parade of ambulances, firefighters and electricians’ trucks as they struggled to remove the crumpled car and the injured man. He was taken by helicopter to a local hospital.

None of us knew anything but what we heard from the onlookers. When the scene cleared, we all went back to the pool and enjoyed our last day of vacation.

Nighttime in the mountains is enchanting. The sun sets in soft pink and lavender and peach, and we sat outside our rooms, watching the kids run around full throttle after a neon ball and some other balls filched temporarily for the games. A large (contained) bonfire burned across the lawn, and the Irish band played a fusion of ballads and early rock songs until midnight.

That last night, I didn’t want to leave this place where we could relax and listen to the sweet giggles and guffaws of children dancing and running in the pale moonlight, as if there was no tomorrow.

Just as their parents did, back in the day.

Life Sentences