Coming home to say goodbye

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The jabs were light but predictable. Hard really to call them jabs, considering the source.

They always came at an awkward time. Close to the end of visits. Not the last day, but not the beginning either. So essentially timed perfectly.

Not much weight behind them, yet packing powerful meaning. Again considering the source.

“Why do you have to live so far away, all the way down in Kentucky?” Mom used to ask every summer, occasionally in the winter when we were home for the holidays. It was always accompanied by a similar response.

“I’ll be back, someday, I promise.”

I always said it, hoping to make it happen. To somehow keep the promise.

For her.

For me.

For us.

Fortunately I was finally able to keep the promise, to leave the place that became my adopted home for nearly 15 years. Leaving Kentucky-the place where I met my bride-to-be, where I really got my career started and into midstride, where I met great friends that I’ll cherish forever and where I discovered passions I never knew existed-wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do but it wasn’t the hardest either.

In the end it was more easy than hard.

Easy because I was able to keep that promise to Mom, who loved our two-, three- and sometimes when we were lucky four-time visits a year. But, as was her prerogative, it just wasn’t enough.

The visits in the early years were easy, time spent catching up on our life usually at her home on the shores of Lake George in Ticonderoga. We’d sit on the porch in the mornings at the lake house, enjoying coffee, chatting about family and friends while I tried to handicap the next day’s races at Saratoga for The Pink Sheet.

In the more recent years she liked it that we’d come to the lake twice per summer. The first visit would be sometime around the Boilermaker 15k road race in nearby Utica. Nobody got overly emotional or nostalgic at the end of those visits, because we knew we’d be back, either for a week around the Jockey Club Round Table. Maybe for the week between the Alabama and Travers, sandwiched between weekends at the races.

The ends of those visits were tough, knowing that it would be Christmas before we were together again.

She didn’t like it, much like I didn’t like it when I had to go back to school after spending nearly the entire summer at that same place my grandparents made their home. She dealt with it, not unlike the way she dealt with cancer these last few years. She made the most of the time we had and she made the most of her time on this earth. I’ve learned a lot from these last few years, mainly that you make the most of what you’ve got.

So with that knowledge and the option to help establish a year-round presence in Saratoga with ST Publishing, it truly was a no brainer to come home again. The decision truly provided the best of two worlds-the chance to do something I loved with people I admire and respect and to be closer to family, namely my mother.

When she started another round of chemotherapy earlier this winter and spring we didn’t really know what to expect. When it was clear that she wasn’t a viable candidate for chemo anymore and stopped the treatments in April, we started to get a little bit clearer picture of what to expect.

Our time was limited, so we better make the most of it.

Thankfully it was no longer a plane trip or a long car ride away. I could hop on my bike, pedal about a mile and pop into her house in Saratoga for a visit. When she was in the care of Hospice at her home in Ticonderoga, it was a little longer car ride but still easy and most definitely worthwhile.

We made the most of the time, and for that I’m thankful.

I was able to come home, and for that I’m thankful.

And I was able to say goodbye, from near and not far, and for that I’m thankful.

 

Nancy Law’s obituary.