From obits to inspiration…

The plans for Camp Grandma 2020 are well underway and it promises to be the best one yet. And as it is with many hits, Camp Grandma has its own spinoff – Dad Camp. It started a couple of summers ago with the father of my three grandsons taking two weeks off work each summer to take the boys on an adventure.

Emmet is now planning Dad Camp 2020 and it looks like it’s going to be so amazing he asked me if I’d like to tag along. It looks to be so awesome that his wife Emily decided she would come along also, so now we’re a party of six! One adult per child. We’re planning to fly to California, rent a van, and take the boys to Yosemite, Yellowstone Park, introducing them to the many wonders of the west. Thankfully, no camping, but lots of hiking, exploring and fun.

When attempting to discuss the financial aspect of the trip with Emmet, he said “I invited you, don’t worry about it.” But, the thing is, I do worry about it. I like to pay my own way but since I don’t currently have a job, I don’t have an income. I thought about when Mr. Smith and I first moved to Ithaca, NY and I was having a hard time finding a paralegal position so I did some temporary work. I decided that after the holidays I would look for temporary work in Pennsylvania to put aside some bucks for Dad Camp.

When I explained my plan to Mr. Smith he responded “Just write the damn book.” One of Mr. Smith’s interesting hobbies is that he reads the obituaries in The New York Times every morning. He often reads about writers, photographers and other artists that he shares with me and these obits have lead us to read various books and check out art that we may not have otherwise discovered. On the morning of our conversation about my looking for temp work in January, he had read the obituary of Dorothea Benton Frank. Ms. Frank was a Southern novelist whose writing career started on a dare. When her mother passed away in 1993, she left behind a beloved family home on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, in South Carolina Low country. While Ms. Frank wanted to keep the house, all her siblings wanted to sell. She asked her husband to lend her the money to buy her siblings out, but he refused. This led her to declare, “I’m going to write a book and I’m going to sell a million copies and I’m going to buy Momma’s house back. And you can’t come in.” His response: “Let’s see you do it.” She wrote the novel Sullivan’s Island, A Lowcountry Tale, sold more than one million copies, and earned more than enough to buy her mother’s house. Unfortunately, it had already been sold do she bought another one on the island instead.

I had been working on a how-to book about Camp Grandma when I stalled out and started a blog instead. And while I like to think Mr. Smith’s “Just write the damn book” is a bit kinder than Mr. Frank’s dare, I hope I can rise to the challenge as well as Ms. Frank. Wouldn’t it be lovely to finish the book, sell a million copies and have enough money to bankroll several future Camp Grandmas and Dad Camps. And maybe get a tee shirt.

C’est la vie.

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