Monday, January 04, 2010

Just Us Two Again

Our last holiday guest left this morning. We’ve actually had two shifts of visits. After the last Christmas visitors left on the evening of the 26th, we had one lonely weekend. Our son’s family and his oldest daughter’s family—Bryan and Tara Archibald and two little boys—left after breakfast that day to travel to Georgia. After celebrating and resting there together at Gerry and Vickie’s, they dispersed. Our daughter-in-law and their youngest daughter accompanied the Archibalds and our two great grandsons to Disney World.

Our son Gerry and their middle daughter Erin went on from Georgia over to Shreveport to attend the University of Georgia and Texas A&M football game. They sat together in Georgia’s section, but Erin wore her A&M attire and yelled loudly for her team. Gerry claimed she pouted when her friends lost, but dad and daughter continued traveling together afterward to a buddy in Texas who had kept Gerry’s car for him recently, so they parted amicably when Erin returned to College Station for one more semester of college and he returned briefly to home.

Sometime after midnight on Wednesday, Gerry arrived back at Woodsong and crawled into the bed I had not touched since they left. We were asleep. We had stayed up waiting until we found he stopped to visit with his cousin Neil down at Vienna and we went on to bed. He was able to sleep late that morning, and the bacon was ready when he got up.

Gerald likes it when we have guests and I sometimes fry bacon. Gerald’s dietitian says he should not have bacon, so he gets to cheat when I prepare it for others. Because he gets up so early, I never cook breakfast for Gerald other than preparing the coffee pot and laying out dishes the night before.

Often I don’t fix breakfast for guests either after showing them where the cereal and juice are. There’s always coffee made and a bowl of fruit on the table. There’s bread for toasting. The grandkids often barely get their self-made breakfast over before lunch is ready. They can sleep as long as they want after staying up visiting and playing together the night before. (I admit I sometimes fry bacon for Trent and Sam because they are so appreciative.)

However, Tara and Bryan’s little ones—Aidan and Maddux—get them up early. Not as early as Gerald usually arises, but early enough that they need breakfast long before lunch. While Tara and Bryan gladly fix their own cereal, I liked doing oatmeal and eggs along with the bacon so the little guys have choices. And Gerald and I enjoy sitting down again with them and their parents and indulging too.

Gerry was actually up here to work in a softball camp up at Collinsville at the end of the week, but in the meantime, he was able to see a lot of friends, visit his cousin Tim’s great new roping barn, loan a hunting dog to a friend, and run around with Gerald. Mostly, however, he was watching videos of batters and thinking and talking softball. At the table, on the phone, with buddies who dropped in. Softball is the usual topic of conversation.

While our son-in-law David went down to his friend’s farm to hunt, I spent Friday night with Katherine and Sam. Gerald and Gerry came by and took the three of us out to lunch at Mackey’s on Saturday. We enjoy the décor there since it was a project that Bryan participated in with his architecture class. Gerry loves the pizza because when their family lived at Harrisburg, they were quickly hooked on Mackey’s pizza. (Oh, David got another deer. His deer sausage as a pre-Christmas dinner appetizer was a great hit at Woodsong.)

That night the Archibalds arrived from Georgia on their way home to northern Illinois. We had been eagerly anticipating their return. Gerald had spent two or three days in his shop repairing the little tractor that once was Erin’s but which had been run over by a tractor or some vehicle. The day before Christmas, Aidan had spied the tractor while he was shoveling and dumping lime into the new little wheelbarrow Gerald had bought for that purpose. (Gerald says Aidan would take the lime all of two feet to dump and then reload the wheelbarrow.) He asked Gerald if he could fix that tractor for him, so Gerald was determined to have it in working condition when Aidan and Maddux arrived back from Disney World. With a new coat of John Deere paint, the tractor looked new.

It had once been Erin’s and it has a story. As a tot, Erin had gone with Gerald to some other town to visit a John Deere dealership which had a not-so-heavy vehicle for kids there called a Gator. Erin rode it all over the building and loved it. She hated to leave it, but since he had already bought them the little tractor that he gave to all the families in those days, he left the dealership. They were in the truck going down the road when Erin said she’d like to trade her tractor for that easy-to-ride Gator. She was so serious that Gerald asked her if she really would trade the tractor. She said yes, and they turned around and went back to the dealership to buy the Gator. And that is how Gerald acquired a little tractor for his farm by trading with Erin.

On Friday we had heard the sad story as the Disney World gang traveled from Florida back to Georgia. Their wonderful time was made even more memorable when Maddux started throwing up. Then it was Tara and Bryan’s turn. Finally in the car, Geri Ann was attacked by the same bug. Aidan promptly had to get out of that back seat and away from his beloved “G.” He and Vickie were the only ones not affected. They debated stopping to rest at motel but kept driving and coping the best they could. We worried about Tara, who is expecting a third baby in early April, but by Saturday when they started to Illinois, she and Bryan were feeling better. Then Aidan became sick. They phoned and said we might not want them at Woodsong with all this stomach trouble going on.

We assured them that we wanted them to stop if at all possible. It was cold and wet, and Gerald moved our car to the shop so they could pull straight into the garage and come in the kitchen door. However, when both boys were sleeping well in the car shortly before they got here, they debated if it might be better to keep driving. We were so glad when we saw them pull in. Gerald would have been a disappointed little boy if he did not get to show that repaired tractor to Aidan. And, of course, Gpa Gerry had been looking forward to seeing those two boys again—as well as their parents.

Although he was friendly, Aidan felt so bad that he gladly let his mother take him to the bedroom so he could sleep. After hearing they were sick, Gerald had carried the tractor inside to the den downstairs. With Aidan asleep, he lured Maddux to try it. I did not think a one-year-old would like it, but I was wrong. He was one happy kid when people pushed him around on it. And he quite amazed me as we watched him work diligently until he was able to crawl on by himself. His smiles made the back ache Gerald got from all that time on the shop’s concrete floor worth it.

When we got up the next morning, Tara and Aidan were in the family room. She reported that Aidan had been sick all night, and he was one unhappy little boy. Gerald showed up and got him on that tractor, however, and soon Aidan was feeling better. He and Maddux played together and Aidan even ate a little breakfast.

Bryan packed the huge collection of Christmas gifts (from the Johnson family gathering on Christmas Eve and the one here). They had left them here while they went to Georgia and Florida. With two car seats and all the gifts, there was not bit of extra space, but I handed Tara specially prepared plastic bags in case anyone became sick again in their seven- or eight- hour journey north. We were grateful to learn that the bags were not needed. Today Bryan is back at work, and Tara is once again taking care of a teacher friend’s baby. So she is already used to caring for three preschoolers.

After breakfast this morning, Gerry left cold Southern Illinois to head to cold Georgia. We had enjoyed an unusual visit with him, and we hated to see him leave although we knew he was eager to get back to his wife and Geri Ann.

I set to work taking down the upstairs tree and that is done. Gerald put the box in the guest bedroom closet. (That bedroom, however, is still a jumble of boxes and gathered Christmas decorations.) Next I started on the downstairs tree in the family room, and it is naked but still waiting to be taken apart. That bedroom where it will be closeted is also a mess waiting for all the little boxes that hold the ornaments to be filled and put into the big box to sleep until next December.

I would have finished more, but my important job today was calling a long list of possible aides to help Katherine on the one morning her regular aide cannot work. And with cold and flu season here, she needs to have possible substitutes available. A large percentage of people on the list were not home or were no longer at the listed phone number. Many could not do the transfer lifting.

Finally, I had one interview appointment made for Katherine in the morning. She had given me her tight schedule, which includes an afternoon doctor appointment tomorrow. I was feeling smug that an interview was set up. Typical of her life, however, one of her doctors had called this morning and needs to see her in Carbondale in the morning. The appointment with the potential personal assistant had to be cancelled and we hope rearranged later in the week. A more up-to-date list of available personal assistants is on its way.

A person with a chronic illness has a full-time job just seeing all the physical therapists, dentists, doctors, and other helpers that are needed. I’m sure those same helping specialists would tell Katherine it would be good for her over-all health just to get lots of rest. She wishes she could.

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