the height chart at Ross & Marilyn’s.

You can see where my Mom wrote, Lainie Mar. 21/92, at the very bottom.


I wondered if she still had it.

There was a wall in Ross and Marilyn’s cabin where we used to mark our heights as kids.  I don’t think I’ve been inside their place since Ross passed away (more about that here…)  Sometimes when you lose someone, you get rid of reminders of the past to try and move on.

It sat there untouched.

There were so many names. Names of kids I knew from my childhood. Ross and Marilyn’s sons (Wade and Shane). Family members and a random collection of adult names that made me laugh (heights must have been marked after a few drinks). It perfectly captured how fun and social they were as a couple.

Ross and my Dad were friends.  They once worked together at Tompkins Hardware in Emo. Before we bought a cabin, we used to spend weekends with them on Clearwater Lake. We called him Uncle Ross because he felt like family.

He was the kind of guy who played outside with us – looking for frogs, trying to teach us how to blow bubbles with gum, and singing inappropriate songs. It was like having a big kid to play with. I still miss him.

This summer, Mom, the kids and I went for a boat ride to see Marilyn. Her cabin is close to ours. She never remarried but has a new partner (I don’t remember his name but he seems nice).

As we sat in her screened-in porch having a visit, the kids played with toys that Marilyn had pulled out from a recent visit with her family. It wasn’t long before Charlie found the door to the cabin and took off inside. That’s when I saw the wall. Then I asked Marilyn if I could take a picture of it.

It brought up stories. Stories of some of the names and funny times. It also brought up a story about Ross. I don’t think I’ve heard Marilyn share a story about him since he died.

We were telling her about the zip line Dad built at the cabin this summer. She laughed to herself and then told us of a time when they were partying at a friend’s house. Ross came out of the house wearing only a yellow tie. No shirt. He was up on a 12 ft deck and tried to go down the clothesline like a zip line. He slid down until slowly his knees were on the ground, then his chin; the clothesline eventually giving in to his weight.

It felt so good to talk about him and to laugh, and to remember how much fun he was.

It’s interesting how when people pass away, we lose them even more when we don’t talk about them. We’re worried that we might cry or get emotional when we say their name.  Stories are saved for a time when we are feeling stronger.  I hope to teach our kids that it’s okay to miss someone and to talk about them.  I’m getting better at it.


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