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April 2022

It is Year 7

Last week was the anniversary of Luke’s death. Year 7. Like most things coming out of Covid, this year April 14th brought with it a rush of new emotions, and more angst and heaviness than we have felt in a while. Upon discussion with those who loved Luke, we all agreed that this year seemed harder. I don’t know if it is because everything feels more challenging right now or because the world feels like it is spinning out of control on every front. I do know that after getting through the actual day last week, I wanted to shine a little positive light on the life of John-Luke Inwood.

As parents we feel beholden to teach our children – to pass along the lessons we have learned from our own upbringing and our life experiences in an attempt to make their path a little smoother. I think we would all agree, however humbly, that in fact, our children teach us a great deal. Patience, unconditional love, the joy in a giggle – these are all brought to us through life with kids. I think if you were to ask Luke Inwood what he taught his Merm, Momma, Mom, Mummy, this is what he would say:

“Don’t try so hard”

Lord, have mercy! If I had a dollar for every time Luke said this to me, I would be rich, lol. I tried SO HARD to get Luke to like me, I am exhausted just thinking about it. In my mind I feel like I followed him around asking him questions all day long. “How was your day, son?” “Do you need me wash your jeans, son” “What do you want for dinner, son” all in an attempt to placate him and make him discover that I was Mother of the Year. The problem is Luke realized my agenda and had no problem calling me out on it. What Luke understood that I didn’t at the time, was Luke was going to feel however he felt about me, and no amount of pressure, cajoling, or over-compensating was going to create a dream relationship. I catch myself now and again, going above and beyond with compliments or gifts to someone, and try to remember that all relationships have to be organic, and most importantly, reciprocal in their efforts to make it work.

Chill

I know I am not the only one Luke used to say this to! Luke never liked any situation to get too heated as the young folk say and had no problem jumping in with this line. As defiant as the lad could be, he sincerely didn’t like seeing anyone else getting worked up and would always try to remind us to relax or simmer down as the case may be. No? Just me? lol Chill was a way of life for Lukester and one I definitely aspire to. I think about the amount of energy I have spent worrying or stressing over endlessly small problems and it is not worth it. So many of Luke’s friends have told stories about how hard he would try to get them to laugh and relax when they were having a tough moment. Using humor to deflate any scenario is an excellent strategy and one of Luke’s faves. Now I ask myself, is this situation worth getting your blood pressure up about? Not unless it’s life or death, truly. Or throw up. Nobody likes throw up.

“Fam is all you need”

Now when Luke said fam, he didn’t mean his family. Fam, to Luke, was his friend group. Luke had such an incredible group of young ladies and lads that he hung out with, and they were his everything. Luke didn’t want anything more in life than to be grabbing a bite, or hanging out at someone’s house, or sitting in the garage taking shit with the kids that he called friends. I actually think this was Luke’s best quality. Luke understood the value of friendship and how it fills your soul. The joy in camaraderie. The pleasure in creating shared memories. Luke loved each and every one of his fam and we have countless photos to prove it. Each one is like the next – Luke with his arms around somebody with the biggest grin on his face. I grew up mostly solitary and since Luke’s death have tried to live more like him in this regard. My fam also includes my actual fam, lol, and my circle of friends will never be the size of Luke’s (although some nights we party just as hard! lol) and I fiercely protect the time we spend together. Fam, by any definition, is really all you need.

So here’s what I need you to know: Luke Inwood has been gone seven years, but as my sweet girl Antonia said recently, “His mark will forever be on all of us”. Oh, what that boy has taught me. Luke lived chasing the joy in life: endless laughs with his friends, the bite of a slice of Ladd’s buffalo chicken pizza, uptown ball till dark. And is there anything else more important than chasing that which makes you most happy? As my boy would surely say, “Hell, no.

Milestones

The House That Built Me

Growing up I moved a lot. Like, about twelve times before the age of eighteen, a lot. Prior to moving to Rutland, I had never stayed in the same house for more than four years, and when John and I started our family, I knew the one thing I wanted to give my children was roots. I wanted them to have a house full of memories and a town where everyone knew their name. You might be surprised to know that our little ole house here on Haven Hill Road is the first and only home John and I have ever owned. Twenty years later I tell him now that wild horses couldn’t drag me out of here. This house, well, this is the house that built me. Cue the music.

I know most people create themselves when they are young and in their twenties, but I feel like I didn’t truly become me until I settled into this home. I raised my children, and made the best friends, and found my calling as a librarian, and then a teacher, all while I lived in this home. It was in this house that I learned all my important lessons – I am stronger than I thought; John Inwood is truly the other half of my heart; the love for my children is forever; I am nothing without the love and support of my friends and family. I don’t know if this is just a *Patty, you are just a little bit weird* thing, but I feel like the walls in our house rise and fall like the lungs in my chest. Taking in every moment and memory and inhaling it; holding them behind the drywall and storing them like honey in the comb. Can you see it? Every squeal of Christmas day captured in the four walls of the great room? Countless laughs around the island in the kitchen locked between the studs of those walls? And the basement? Oh, that basement…

In the six years since Luke passed away, we have made a few changes to the house, but not anything significant. Our basement has been unfinished all this time and we recently decided to not do anything too fancy but wanted to add the drywall and ceiling tiles and flooring to make it more comfortable. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like a life-altering event, but let me tell you… I am not sure any home reno completed up to this point has caused me so much agony.

That damn basement. Luke lived in that space as soon as we would let him. He was down there hanging out with his friends; he had his gaming system set up and ran all his COD matches from the basement; eventually he slept down there and there were countless mornings I would tromp down the steps to rouse his tired ass for school. There isn’t an inch of that space that doesn’t have Luke’s fingerprint all over it.

So, the renovation began. John enlisted Billy Oser to be the other half of BillyBarry Construction, and starting in January, the two of them spent countless nights and weekends transforming the basement. Every time they would finish something, like the when they finally got the framing completed, they would call me down to admire their work. The two of them would gush about their accomplishment and how fantastic it looked, and I would nod my head and try to say something kind. After a few moments I would take myself upstairs, pour a glass of wine, and cry.

“They are erasing my boy’s existence!” my heart lamented.

“They are burying him behind the walls!” my heart cried.

And therein was my problem. It felt like the basement and Luke were so closely tied together that to change it was to lose him all over again. With this renovation, we were moving forward, and Luke would be forever trapped behind the studs, his cussing and crying and cheering, muffled by new walls and a coat of paint. It has been heartbreaking.

So here’s what I need you to know: The finished project is incredible. John and Billy poured a lot of love into the space and I know Luke is looking down wondering why the hell we didn’t do it earlier. As for me, one night when John was out running errands, I slipped a picture of Luke through a space I could find in the wall. Some day when I am dead and gone, I imagine a new owner will want to make the basement their own…. and in tearing down the walls will find a picture of my boy and his friends. King Luke was here. Xxx

I need you to know