Memorial Day is the time we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. It is a day of remembrance, parades and ceremonies. The Memorial Day weekend is also the kickoff to summer, and many people in Michigan head up north to camp, fish, go boating, or enjoy a picnic or barbecue with family and friends. I recently recalled a particular Memorial Day weekend – the worst ever!
A few years ago, my daughter and grandkids were living in Traverse City, so I was excited about driving up there for the long, holiday weekend. It started out as a perfect day. The sky was brilliant blue without a cloud in sight, a warm breeze was blowing – perfect weather for a weekend getaway. I loved those visits to my daughter’s Traverse City home. We always spent a lot of time outside and enjoyed walking the hiking paths, picnics at the park, going to the beach and eating ice cream cones at our favorite ice cream shop.
But not that year. My worst nightmare had come true. The beautiful city had been invaded by tent caterpillars – the worst infestation in years. And I have to tell you, there is nothing in the world I detest more than those nasty, creepy, squishy little worms. And I’m not talking about a few nests here and there – there were thousands of them!
My dislike of caterpillars (and all bugs in general) is because of my little sister, who was a rough-and-tumble tomboy and just loved bugs. She also knew how much I hated them. She would sneak up behind me and drop a caterpillar or two down my shirt, and then roll on the ground laughing while I jumped up and down screeching like a banshee at the top of my lungs. “Kathy, don’t do that to your sister,” my mother would say.
Well, I was determined to NOT let a few little bugs keep me from enjoying some outdoor fun with my grandkids. We packed a picnic lunch and went to the park. Big mistake! The caterpillars were everywhere! I carefully walked to the pavilion and found a place to sit – eyes on the lookout. But everything was covered with the little worms, even the slide, swings and the merry-go-round! A backyard barbecue was out of the question, because the deck was crawling with thousands of them. No cookout for me that weekend. We couldn’t even sit outside at the ice cream shop!
So, I decided to just stay in the house for the rest of the holiday. At least there was a good movie on TV! I got all comfy on the couch and suddenly felt something crawling up my leg. Yes, it was a tent caterpillar! I jumped up so fast, I threw out my back. That was it for me. I’d had enough. I decided to cut the trip short and head home. I packed my things and hobbled out to the car (and yes, I could hear my daughter and the kids giggling as they watched me).
As I headed out the driveway, I let out a heavy sigh of relief. I looked up – and there it was – a tent caterpillar on the windshield, looking right at me! I stopped the car, got out and flicked it off, got back in the car victoriously, put on my sunglasses and drove home.
Yes, it was the worst Memorial Day weekend ever. But I have to say, I’ve had many memorable ones, too. This year, I will remember my father, James Dennison, who served during World War II, and my brother Joe, a Vietnam vet – and all those who have served to keep us safe. Happy Memorial Day to all!