Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday's Music Moment: Lives Well Lived

If you've spent any amount of time on this blog, you'll have read about Family Camp, the annual vacation to the Adirondack Mountains that my family has been taking every August since the 1960s. We're not that unusual; there are probably 15 other families who have also been coming since gas cost $0.36 a gallon. Family camp friendships are so deeply ingrained that when someone of our tribe gets married, there is the bride's side of the aisle, the groom's side, and the Family Camp section (usually in the back.)

So it's been a melancholy week, because we've lost another of the old guard - Bill Deyle. Taken together with Al Hooke in December and Bob Izard last year, we've lost three of the dads who infused the place with humor and integrity over the decades. They were the men in the terrycloth bucket hats and plaid shorts and worn-out tennis shoes who showed us how it was done - hard working career men who knew how to relax and enjoy the gift of their families and their Adirondack sojourn. It wasn't until Mr. Deyle hung the hammock across the porch of Pine cabin and called me by my sister's name three times on purpose that it felt like vacation really started.

Perhaps it was post-pregnancy hormones that made me delusional, but in the first year of our oldest daughter's life I was still confident that I could balance a demanding full time job with international travel and the work of being a new mom. So even though my August vacation had been approved months in advance, when a new supervisor suggested that my career depended on me flying back mid-week to join an all-hands international division meeting, I believed him and booked a flight from the nearest regional airport to Camp - a two hour drive away.

Still confident I was making a good decision, I mentioned it to Mr. Izard, himself a businessman when he wasn't spending the week sitting on an Adirondack chair at Double Decker cottage. "Gotta do what you gotta do," I said casually. 

He groaned and looked at me with a combination of empathy and concern. "Oh, Nance. You don't have to do this. Take it from me. You'll never remember that meeting, but you'll regret leaving your family mid-vacation."

Oh, hahahaha. What could you possibly teach me, Bob Izard?

The next night, as I sat crying in the ladies room at Dulles Airport trying to express milk that my nursing daughter wouldn't be awake to drink, the vast wasteland of the meeting behind me and a delayed flight and two hour drive ahead of me, I understood. The meeting had nothing to do with my career and everything to do with a new boss cracking the whip at someone over whom he wanted to demonstrate his power. I left the company within the year, and though I still sometimes struggle to reconcile ambition and family, I now have a rubric with which to evaluate any given choice. Which alternative leaves me without regrets?

To these men who put their families first, who contributed to their communities, worked hard, but weren't too proud to don a feather boa for a cameo in their grandkids' sketch on Skit Night, I say thank you. Sometimes when you're young and full of ideas of your own self-importance, you need a bank president who has volunteered to handle horseback riding sign-up to put things in perspective. 

I looked high and low for today's music moment and ended up with this one from folk singer Jeffrey Foucault, One for Sorrow. "One for sorrow, two for joy they say, I’ve had my fill of sorrow anyway." I've had my fill of sorrow this week.  But I'm sending in the Family Camp deposit today, so there's my joy. Hope you have a joyous weekend, friends - 


  1. Touching and wonderful. Thanks for sharing the wisdom of Mr. Izard -- and your own.

  2. Nancy, Thanks so much for this poignant and light-hearted tribute to these good men who have passed on these invaluable lessons. And, for the blessing of introducing us to your Family Camp tradition

    This was particularly timely, having just returned at 330 AM from a daytrip to DC to visit a last time with a treasured family friend and my second father who is dying of cancer. He was, in addition to being a noted American historian, beloved teacher, and respect dean and provost, also a camp counselor, Little League coach, devoted Dylan fan and central figure in my childhood.

    So with the multiple beers consumed last night during our 6 hr flight delay, I toast (retroactively) Bob again along with the good men of Family Camp. Thank you for all the ways your good lives enriched ours!

    Jim in Hadley MA

  3. Nancy, you know I loved this one! I only wish that my years at Family Camp had started even earlier. I truly enjoyed my summers up there with the family. I really miss it. I hope to make it back up there this summer in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Camp Gorham. Loved the blog--thanks for the memories. :)


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