The trip was half about the books and half about people. Many wonderful moments with family and friends…
- For the first time, my mother took her walker outside of her place, to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house—and took pleasure in her adolescent grandchildren sitting on the seat of the walker and zooming around Taking the walker typifies for me Mother’s proactive stance towards the considerable challenges of aging. Rather than fighting change, she’s been proactive vis a vis, for example, using a cane, getting a hearing aid, and moving into an assisted living facility. Her determination to remain as independent as possible while asking for help as needed is a huge gift to us kids. Her world shrinks as her energy and strength decline, but how I admire her as she meets the daily challenges of institutional living, melancholy, and so forth.
- I’m so glad I had a couple of special times with my brother, another person I admire greatly as he battles “incomplete paraplegia,” a shocking outcome of back surgery last March. “The paralysis is nothing,” he states, compared to the agony of bladder dysfunction that’s gone unrelieved for months now, one procedure or medication after another failing to solve the problem. But his determination to persevere and overcome, spiked with humor (sometimes, understandably, of the gallows variety) and counting the blessings, has a beauty of its own.
- ‘Twas great staying for a couple nights with my cousin and his wife, and I treasure our reminiscences about our Grandma and Grandpa Cristy. Our childhood memories complimented each other, while apocryphal stories brought both laughter and pondering. I never had heard the one about Grandpa greeting my cousin’s wife, then fiancée, with “Well, hi there, er, uh,—Adam’s Apple!” upon one of their first meetings when he couldn’t remember her name. And Grandma’s mortification over it. Very cool seeing many family photos and pieces around their house, including both the painting (in pastels, I think) of the farmhouse with the dog on the porch and the aerial shot of the whole farm. Oh, my, so long ago.
- Other familial high points – Hide-and-go-seek with my nephew’s little ones, the youngest at that stage of screaming out when the seeker gets close. Ongoing conversation with a sister about our wasbands and life after divorce. Mom’s 88th birthday party, her sitting there smilingly, reveling in the generations and looking about 75 or so. Driving through the village of Ringwood, surprised again, at how much smaller our big old house looks to me now than it did then. Never did get by the cemetery to visit Dad, and Polly and Grandma and Grandpa and the rest; too busy with the living…
And some quick notes about friends…
- A fabulous friend from Ringwood IL—growing up in that unusual little village was, indeed, a bonding experience—came to the signing in Woodstock. After a great chat, she went to the coffee shop next door and brought me a steaming cup of pumpkin spicy coffee as she took her leave. Man, that drink was sweet and tasty!
- Visit with a high school classmate now in Kenosha. We worshiped at her church, then a rich afternoon of catching up at her house with lunch from Tenuta’s, the best supplied Italian deli “this side of Italy,” and hanging out with one of her daughters, a very impressive young woman home on college break.
- More catching up over coffee and the most delicious pumpkin roll I’ve ever tasted with a devoted fan who bought a bunch of books! I’ve known this special person, and her twin sister who lives in Kansas, since middle school days. And then she delighted me again when she turned up at my event at McHenry UMC.
- Soup supper in Kendallville IN at the home of a former teaching colleague. Two other buddies from my time there came and the four of us talked non-stop, more about what we’re doing now than what we did then.
And many other special times with friends and family, alluded to in earlier posts. Wow. How grateful I am for the blessing of loving, caring, interesting and interested people in my life!