I went up to Camp Tamarack for the last time with Howie and Kathy as owners. I wrote some of this to a friend this morning, but I’ll post it here as several have asked what it was like to go back and say goodbye.
It was very wistful for me, and I think that Kathy will likely lose it when she leaves – she’s very emotional. Howie on the other hand, is not a nostalgic guy, and isn’t really going to have huge issues leaving. As he said, the camp has treated him well, and he’s moving on to the next thing. At least thats what he says.
I went cuz I was looking for some closure – not sure for what. I guess I just wanted to sing the song for Howie and Kathy one more time and maybe by doing that, catch a little of that joy from my youth for a moment. It worked.
Some have asked me if I’ll be upset if the camp song stops being the camp song – I sure won’t. It was a bonus that they kept singing it for all these years since I left – that means a whole lot to me. Going up there and watching a roomful of kids who weren’t born when I left in 1991 singing the words that I wrote over 2 decades ago was truly one of the most humbling experiences of my life. But I wrote that song for Howie and Kathy simply to thank them for the summers, that’s really it. The rest is gravy, as they say. If it never got sung again – that would be OK with me. An era is over – onward.
The piano in the dining hall is the same – hasn’t changed in 20 years. The action is stubborn and the sound muffled, but it sure felt like home.
Howie made me sing it twice. During the first time through, he hushed the dining hall and warned the entire place that he wanted to hear me sing it on my own – everyone would sing the second time through. He had made me do this once before – at the end of August 1991, when post-camp had ended and I was packed up and leaving Tamarack for the last time. Howie and Kathy sat at the head table in the empty hall while I played the song directly to them. And here I was again 17 years later. So I played it slow – real slow so I could feel every word. Like that night in August of 1987 when I sat on the dock at windsports at 2AM writing it by moonlight. Howie held the mike to my mouth just like he used to. Kathy cried.
To make sure I had the closure I needed, I wrote a final verse to the song 21 years later. I couldn’t bring myself to sing it, but here it is anyway.
“Today I stand here silent while the wind sighs through the trees
A million summer memories swirl ‘round me like a breeze
Though time has come and pulled me from a child into a man
It’s plain to me that Tamarack helped make me what I am”
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