A wonderful old wooden roller coaster played a huge role in my life as a small child. Living on a farm as we did, my Dad needed to stay close by to tend to his flocks, and trips as a family were a rarity unless our grandparents took us somewhere or we went with friends. Within a 20 minute ride of our farm was Paragon Park at Nantasket Beach, and once a summer, Dad would get someone else to do the evening chores and we would all pile into the woodie stationwagon and head to the beach in the late afternoon. The beautiful gleaming white roller coaster would come into view as we rounded the corner to the beach, and the excitement would build. We could hardly wait to get to the beach!
Mum packed a wonderful picnic supper (she always brought grape juice mixed with ginger ale to drink) which we would enjoy on our beach blankets after having some great fun in the waves and swimming. After supper, we would go across the street to the park, pass under the beautiful art deco arches, tickets in hand, and head for our favorite rides. I just loved the Red Mill which was a boat ride through darkened tunnels, that ended with a steep climb and a fast ride down the other side splashing into the water again. Then there was the beautiful old carousel housed in an architectural work of art....a round building with the most beautiful rolling roof. We just loved the whole atmosphere. The ferris wheel, too, was a treat with its beautiful views across the water to Boston. The roller coaster was the backdrop for all the other rides and you could hear the shrieks of joy, and probably fear, all over the park. I never did dare to take that thrilling ride but sure loved to watch it, and see the reactions on the faces of those getting off after their rides.
Life right now is like that - ups and very steep downs, there will be shrieking too, when all the siblings see each other, I am sure, although, most of us will see each other for the first time since Dad's death, at the funeral home tomorrow at 1:30 pm. Today has been a day of arrivals and I am sure everyone is pretty tired tonight. Others will be flying in very early tomorrow.
Today I was calm and that was a relief (yesterday was such a painfully sad day and I did not sleep at all last night). I spoke with the minister who will conduct the memorial service and that went very nicely. He will include some prayers, thoughts on Dad's life, some poetry and will intersperse it between family members speaking. I will go first and feel fairly ready.
LM has come down with a bad cold and I am so hoping he will feel well enough to be with me tomorrow night. I can hardly bear the thought of driving two hours home alone tomorrow night after the calling hours end, but if he is too sick, that is the way it will be. I am not surprised he is sick after all the stress he has had for such a long time.
So the family is gathering and I am sure the next four days will be one of wild rides down memory lane, a lot of tears and a lot of loud laughing. I love my family so much and cannot wait to be with them as we celebrate Dad's life. We are so fortunate to all be close and loving and to have some wonderful in-laws to join in with us, too. We will have a huge reception following the burial at my brother's house and Bob the cat will be there to greet us! Speaking of Bob.....my nephew Nate dressed him up for football season last night....wrong time of year, Bob!
By the way, the carousel from Paragon Park, and its lovely building are the only semblance of those wonderful days remaining. Every once in awhile on a Sunday, I stop by and have a ride and relive the times I rode on it with my Dad. About 2 years ago Dad and I rode it together and I will treasure that memory of returning to my childhood with him forever.
The roller coaster was disassembled, piece by piece and taken to Six Flags in Baltimore, MD where it was re-constructed and is still in use.