How cool is it to be hosting my cousin born on the same day to delight mom with some delicious eats in a horse- themed interior offering an American Eclectic menu? With cheese board offerings refreshed daily as well as a menu that changes seasonally, it was the perfect place to take mom and simply catch up on things with My cousin “Queenie.” The smell of the fresh wood burning fire just makes us all excited for fall colors and everything else that comes with a certain kind of flavor that each autumn seems to offer. For many, there is more clarity that comes with the company of visiting family to gently remind us of who we are, what we hope to do, and what we stand for. I am grateful for these moments as certain circumstances become less confusing to just let go, or hang in there, or move on. Here’s to many more ‘Capricorn accommodations’ or any sign for that matter to keep our spirits anchored in keeping the peace and choosing a more positive outlook to embrace :)
“Perfect 10 Family Field Trip”
What a great way to start the day in the company of my nephew, Mom and her sister with a morning coffee run... beyond the standard- issue Starbucks (no disrespect) via field trip outings in an open air Rubicon Wrangler! We arrived in Plainfield to sample all the glory that the local Ten Drops Coffee Lab had to offer. From precise pour overs to signature sweet lattes (Aaron recommends the ‘Conquistador’) to creative cappuccinos, the experience was extra special indeed. When asked by my aunt visiting from the Philippines, “Mon, what goes with this coffee?”, my unconventional reply contrasting away from an edible consumable was simply, “good company and smiles, Auntie Ione.” It was quite the enduring endeavor, about a month ago, to have various nurses always ask my father about his pain level based on a self-assessed score. He would make light of that inquiry every time with a standard response of “1.625.” That can all be in the rear view mirror moving forward. Seeing mom so happy in the company of visiting family is something anyone would score as a Perfect 10 for sure. Here’s to more perfect scores and new memories created with the incoming of love for mom...--© Ramon Nayar. All Rights Reserved.ISO Splash. Words. Images. Storytelling.--
“With Every Season”
Hi Pa,We had an extra special night last night. Everyone said I clean up well, and you know my polite response was, ‘it is true that I actually took a shower....’ Of course Narayan was one of the first people on the planet to have the new iPhone 11 featuring 3 cameras or whatever technological milestones comes with that nonsense- it made for some great ‘blank stare’ goofy captures of us siblings. We do feel a greater sense of being closer and all about ‘Team Mom.’ And as for mom, she looked so beautiful with her date Aunty Ione. Mom and her sister even drank some wine- that was shocking. The spouses of my brother and sister were both there- it was extra special with two word greetings for each: ‘hey bro’ and ‘hey sis.’ We have all come together to honor your legacy.
Bill Curtis wasn’t the M.C. this year- instead we were blessed with the infamous Peter Sagal from NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.’ Wow that dude is short- but definitely well spoken and a fellow ‘environmental advocate’. But he is deceivingly short. We got the ‘G-Man’ auctioneer again- Pete does as a horrible yet memorable impression of him with his English accent... how it is that he met Dahlia at a hostel I’ll never know... or question... for after all you met mom on a bus (technically she went out of her way to meet you).
Mrs. Rossi introduced me to my date who (technically) went out of her way to meet me. I think you’d really like her because she carries a few key qualities similar to mom... spunky, driven, talented, and opposite of me in so many ways. She is just a beautiful person that I genuinely believe in. I look forward to letting things unfold in an ‘accurate, consistent & reliable way.’ Okay, maybe not the best place to insert your company reference but I know your laughing...
I keep thinking about your laugh- that cadence of intermittent pauses that release more laughs like the airbrakes of a truck. I imagine mom reading this letter to you in bed and how you would both react. Then I think about you impromptu-ing a story to me and Narayan, and how all of us would beg you (now we’d probably pay you) not to sing. I miss those times of joy shared with all of us and will keep those memories close to my heart.
We didn’t get bombarded with a bunch of condolences or unnecessary limelight hailing the incredible impact you have made for the Morton Arboretum and the world over- it was exactly how you wanted. What an appropriate theme title for this year’s event... ‘Evergreen.’ Seasons, especially in the Midwest, do change. Those leaves of deciduous trees become barren for months at a time. But your impact is a conifer in every way. And your legacy will be the evergreen that only grows and flourishes with time...
© Ramon Nayar. All Rights Reserved.
ISO Splash. Words. Images. Storytelling.
“Cousin Brothers”it felt so surprising being addressed as “cousin brother” for the first time. I had just stopped over in Dubai a few years back on my way to India for some incredible commercial and humanitarian assignments I was flown over to work on. Back in 2014 when I first met my first cousin, Kannan, (one of over 40 first cousins), he made mention that I should think about doing some creative work overseas. Two words accompanied my knee jerk response... “yeah right.” And yet he spoke with such certainty... as if him believing in me was such a foreign concept. Maybe it was literally foreign in every sense of the word... but he wasn’t wrong. This photo was from 2017 for a quasi family reunion... like 30 lbs ago when my health was a bit in limbo contending with chronic pain and the inability to train. And Kannan has a twin brother, Unni, and I honestly don’t know which twin I’m with here. Shit lol. They are both awesome!! Periodic pain free moments such as these were a welcomed waypoint towards getting to a better place. How blessed am I to be bouncing back and surrounded by so much love. Be it blood brothers, brothers from another mother, or cousin brothers, being there for and believing in each other feels like one of the best blessings one could ever ask for.
“In Stride”Even as a child, I was always mesmerized with walking behind my father. He had a pace to him that would literally leave mom at least 1.5 terminals behind him at the airport (full disclosure… my mom just had to take notice of some of the shops whaaaat?!). He was just always on the go in a big way… places to go, people to see, information to audit, credit & report on… you know… the usual (for those that didn’t get the reference, his flagship product for his software company was ACR). One of his dreams was to one day have a farm since he grew up on a farm back in Kerala, India, once upon a time. And now our family has ‘Kerala West,’ something beautiful for the future generations to cherish. He loved walking those trails… often times not only out pacing guests 1/2 his age, but inciting pleas for him to slow down! I plan to start being there more often, when the time is right- maybe this fall but definitely this Thanksgiving since his wishes were to simply have his ashes spread there in the company of our immediate family. I’ll probably start creating a body of work for a personal collection of landscapes, close ups, and the like. The nerd in me will do some drone mapping and then create some waypoint lookouts and gathering spaces named after family as well as references to my father. I suppose bouts of grief are inevitable, but grief with honoring those we love is a way that i can take all of what life brings in stride…
--© Ramon Nayar. All Rights Reserved.ISO Splash. Words. Images. Storytelling.--