Going home in the summer means Rochester Red Wings games, grilled Zweigle’s hot dogs, long walks around the Erie Canal with mom and so, so much more.

I also try to plan to go home for the Patriotic Performance, which is something the first grade classrooms at the school she teaches first grade at has done for over 20 years. While I may just be a teacher’s kid, I am put to work each year. There are jobs that I know I will have to do that day long before we step foot into the school.

I have helped with this performance many times and it’s something that I look forward to each year. No matter how many times I have watched or helped with it, tissues are always needed by the end. Before all the teachers and I walk down to the auditorium, we make sure that at least one person has tissues that can be passed around. The tears normally start when the first graders call up any veterans or active service members in the crowd and give them a rose. The next few songs are dedicated to the military and there is hardly a dry eye in the auditorium by the time the performance is finished.

It’s something that I look forward to every year, especially since my dad is a Navy veteran. There are years when my dad goes to the performance and I get to watch my mom hand him a rose and thank him for his service.

After the performance is over, I help take down the decorations and move the balloons (that I had the oh-so-fun job of untangling that morning) to the cafeteria. Every year, I take the class photos and turn them into a bookmark for each first grade class.

Some years, I have to work some photoshop magic if a student was not at school that day and has to be put into the class photo.

This year, I won’t be able to go home for the performance and even if I could go home, I wouldn’t be allowed to help due to COVID-19.

Instead, I will be going home in the beginning of June. The trip will be celebrating my grandma as we will be holding her funeral mass.

It’s something that I knew was coming, but it’s so incredibly hard to know the date and time for it. My mom sent me the info a little over a week ago and it feels like I’m grieving all over again. Mr. Frogs, a frog stuffed animal that I sent my grandma last year for Easter, has really helped me get through this past week as it’s something of hers that brings me comfort.

Having a family member pass away during a global pandemic is incredibly difficult, especially when the graveside burial and the funeral mass can’t be held at the same time. When I go home in June, mom has a ton of plans as we will be spending a day cooking all the foods my grandma loved and doing things that she enjoyed.

As much as I enjoy going home, I know this will be an incredibly hard trip. I can’t wait to see my family again.

While the Red Wings won’t have any home games, I know mom and I will take many long walks and then walk the mall. She’s always happy when she can go shopping with her “shopping buddy.” There may also be Starbucks involved…

I’ll eat more pizza than one person should eat in two days and we’ll (mom will) grill Zweigle’s and hopefully Country Sweet chicken. There will probably be a few nights where we all sit outside around the fire and eat s’mores.

As I’m getting ready to come back to New Mexico, there will be a whole suitcase full of foods that I can only get in Rochester.

No matter what I’m going home for, there are certain things that I always look forward to.

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