Monday, August 17, 2009

The Week of the Granddaughters

Been too busy having fun to blog this week. Did you miss me? Our first three grandchildren--Tara, Erin, and Leslie—were all visitors this week. (I also was staying up late writing about Silkwood Inn for a regional magazine since I had promised the editor I’d do my best to get a story to him this week. I was delighted when he asked me last week because I know that only publication will save for the future what I have discovered through research. I thoroughly enjoy speaking about the Trail of Tears and the story of Priscilla, but speech is transient. The story recorded in print is what lasts.)

Monday Tara and her two little ones came through here on Interstate 57 after visiting and picking up her boys from her parents’ home in Georgia. So we were on the alert hoping they’d come out to the farm for a break on their way back to their home in northern Illinois. Three-year-old Aidan is maturing at such a rapid rate that we need to see him often just to keep up with his development. Each time, he is so much taller and talks more and more like an adult. Gerald is eager for him to come and play again in the special lime pile he has created for him to dig in. And we were eager to see and hold eight-month old Maddux. But Tara had warned us if the boys were asleep, she probably would not stop at all. She was so hungry to get home to her husband after two weeks away. We understood.

When the phone call came, she suggested we meet her at Marion’s McDonald’s to let Aidan run off energy in the play land there while they ate a quick hamburger supper. I know she thought it would be easier to get away from there than out at our house, and we were glad to cooperate because we too were dreading her long trip upstate.

The brief respite was a success although that did not stop Aidan’s tears when it was time to go. He wanted to come to the farm, and most of all, he did not want more traveling. Who could blame him? Yet the boys both sleep very well in their car seats, and Tara is a remarkable mother at keeping her sons happy even in difficult situations. The boys and their daddy were needing each other, so the lime pile has to wait.

With last hugs and kisses and a prayer in our hearts for safe traveling, we waved goodbye and came back to the farm feeling a little lonely but filled with new images in our heads of two little humans we adore. Any visit to McDonald’s also brings back images of being there with little Tara, who was capable of conning Gerald into stopping at every one they passed coming back from hauling hogs to market in the old days.

On Wednesday, we had the same sort of quick visit with Leslie, who was returning from her visit with her family at Freeport. It was fun to hear about her time with friends back home and her plans for the new school year at Belmont. She had to go back early for training as a R.A. in her dorm, in order to be ready to greet the new freshmen arriving on campus soon. She couldn’t stay long because she had a dinner date waiting for her in Nashville. We understood that too. Yet there is always a vacancy when the little blond with great presence leaves us.

That evening Erin arrived from Texas with two A&M softball friends, Rhea and Kara. They were going to stay awhile and that was better! They have been in and out with friends coming here to fish with them at the lake, riding the “mule,” going up to swim in someone’s farm pond, spending the night at Brooke’s (she who was home from Belmont), going up to worship at Erin’s family church at West Frankfort, and catching up on their sleep. We loved getting to see Erin’s friend Toni again after much too long.

Gma Shirley—just down the country road and a few miles around the corner from us—hosted a family gathering for them Thursday night. She made her wonderful chicken and dumplings just like Erin ordered. Shirley, my daughter-in-law’s mother, is one of my heroes. Actually I think she is a community hero. For years, she watched over her mother next door and her little sister Janice, who has lived far longer than most adults with Down’s syndrome. Even before their mother’s recent death, however, Janice’s health had seriously deteriorated. Caring for her now has necessitated Shirley moving in next door and staying there. Yet Shirley stays cheerful, and Erin commented on her grandmother’s great sense of humor. They enjoyed dinner with her again today and looking through family photo books.

Yesterday we took the girls down beautiful Rocky Comfort Road and then up Buffalo Gap Road to one of one of Gerald’s cousins. We were greeted in the yard by five-year-old Kristin, who was charmingly friendly like her grandmother Judy. Judy’s niece and daughter, Mary and Becky, were up from Florida for the weekend, and this was our only chance to see them.

Judy, a retired nurse from Marion hospital, and Morris, who is called Moose for a reason, had taken them to breakfast at Giant City Lodge and then stopped at the orchard for peaches. Folks were sitting at a big table in their home peeling peaches and having a great time. Their son, an ag teacher and basketball coach, and others were down in the tomato patch picking tomatoes, but he came in later to eat a peach. People were coming and going to share the peaches and tomatoes. Granddaughter Cora was making brownies because a pizza party with home-made pizza was planned for the evening.

Judy explained to me she goes to New Burnside to play piano at a little church there on Sundays, a village quite away from their rural community. (Small rural churches often have trouble acquiring a pianist.) Judy puts meat into the oven and makes preparations for the noon meal. Then two high school granddaughters finish the meal when as many as twenty-five arrive to enjoy the home-cooked Sunday dinner. Judy said when she arrives back home, she just has to fill her plate and join them at the tables. Obviously this active woman had recovered from a bad fall from a horse that happened after her retirement.

From Judy and Morris’s, we took our visiting trio on down one of America’s national historic trails—Route 146, the official auto route for the Trail of Tears—and on to the Garden of the Gods state park. We intended to hike, and we did a bit before rain came and drove us back to our car. Gerald kept up with the fleet-footed softball players and came back with the umbrella to shield me in my last lap of my retreat. My thin blouse dried in a hurry as we traveled back to Harrisburg to stop at Mackie’s Pizza, where their thin-crusted pizza was a special childhood memory that Erin wanted to share with her Texas buddies.

There was another fishing time down at the lake tonight, and Toni came back. Sonje from next door brought Katie over on the four-wheeler to the lake to meet the softball players. (They will be able to someday brag about meeting Katie, the swimming champ. She too is a dedicated athlete.) After a late supper followed by watching TV and giggling, the downstairs laundry room (my office) is humming as they prepare for the long trip back in the morning.

Woodsong will seem very quiet tomorrow as Gerald and I re-adjust to just to just the two of us.

No comments: