Saturday, August 01, 2015

Trent--A Star with Star Wars

A little boy’s sweet singing woke me up Thursday morning. Soon I was at the kitchen table with Aidan, 9, and Payton, 5,—our youngest and oldest great grandsons—Tara and Bryan’s boys. (Their Maddux, 7, was still in bed as I think he inherited my sleep genes.) Since their family moved to Texas, it is a rare treat for us to get to see this family. They had come downstate the evening before after a week or so visiting Bryan’s family in northern Illinois, attending his cousin’s wedding, and taking the boys to downtown Chicago.

At the breakfast table with me, Payton would periodically say wishfully, “He said he would come back.” He was talking about our grandson Trent, 22, who had come over for the family supper the night before. I bet Payton repeated that sentence at least ten times. Because of the sparsity of visits, I am not sure he knew Trent’s name.

Following supper the night before, the three boys had immediately been treated to Trent’s complete attention all evening. Trent had engaged the boys in discussing Star Wars videos, which evidently they have three or so that they watch. Since Trent has all of them, he quickly drove back to his house to get the latest to share and he came back with his collection of masks of the characters. (Although I have walked through the family room with it playing many times, I have never sat down and watched an entire Star Wars video. So I have no idea what to call these characters, but the masks were impressive.)

Trent did a masterful job of keeping three active noisy boys entertained downstairs while the rest of us enjoyed sitting around the table visiting and laughing. Tara asked Brianna questions about her spring internship, so we were able to hear a little more about that. We asked questions and caught up on Tara’s involvement with the sports facility that Ty and Kesha Warren are building in College Station. But mostly we laughed and enjoyed being together. By the time we left the table very much later, Trent had two out of three boys asleep for the night. Mary Ellen, Brianna, and Trent left for their house. (Their Brian had to be out of town this week.) Trent’s next day agenda was to finish the week’s statistics class at John A. Logan since the college is not open on Fridays during the summer term.

But the next morning as Payton remembered all their fun, he said with a certain awe more to himself than to me, “He said he had waited seven years to show us Star Wars.” After breakfast and Payton’s final, “He said he’d come back,” their day was instantly filled. First with the usual farm activities with Gerald and then a visit down the road and onto the next one for a visit with Tara’s Gma Shirley. Tara’s cousin Jeremy—just her age and who grew up with her--could only come to see her during that part of the day because of his shift at the mine.

For the boys, it was important to see Jeremy’s daughter Kinsley, just Payton’s age. For Tara it was important to meet his new son Bentley, four-months old. Even better, she had been promised she could care for the two children after Jeremy went to work as his wife was already doing. Bryan had to make a trip back to the farm once for new sets of clothes for the boys because Kinsey and they remembered a previous time when they were allowed to play in the mud. And after that reprise, they were hosed off and left to dry in the sun while Bryan came over for clean clothes.

After lunch and more play at Gma Shirley’s , the gang came back to Woodsong to fish in the lake. (I think they had almost as much fun digging worms in the garden as they did using them to fish.) Gerald was extremely impressed with very feminine tiny Kinsley who not only caught a fish—a blue gill she explained—but she was totally comfortable with handling worms and poles and taking the fish off the hook. While Bryan and Gerald supervised that activity, Tara was delightedly and smugly engaged rocking Bentley. I came in from Katherine’s and even got to hold that smiling baby boy just a bit when he woke up. Occasionally I heard mention of Star Wars and Trent’s promise to come back.

Somehow Bryan and Tara had to get those four older ones rounded up, re-dressed, hands washed, etc, along with any necessary care for Bentley and get out of our house and over to Gma Shirley’s to meet up with Kinsley and Bentley’s parents for the roast beef supper that Shirley was cooking for them.

Belatedly the two adults and five children were finally heading out through our kitchen back door when Tara and I realized Trent had arrived and was coming in the front door! It was a crisis moment, but we literally hid Trent from the kids and Tara promised they’d be back in a couple of hours. Of course, I figured that was probably not possible since everyone over there is as eager to see these far-off loved ones as we are, and Kinsley is not likely to be satisfied with ending play time with cousins any sooner than possible.

I was concerned that Trent might be bored with just us two oldsters here at the farm. But he contentedly ate a bite of supper with Gerald and me, helped Gerald with a computer problem, and took a little nap until the boys returned. (Trent is not only our Star Wars ace, but he’s also our computer and Internet expert since he is on his college’s cyber security team.) It was late when the Archibalds arrived back at the farm, but Trent had the next video ready to go and the boys were soon once again enthralled. And very rapidly asleep after that day’s heavy play. Tara and Bryan were able to move the two youngest into a bed, but Aidan was still sleeping there on the floor with a blanket when I carefully crowded through his feet and the wall when I moved upstairs after my Facebook fix in my office. With enough dim light left on, he later put himself in a proper bed.

By Friday morning, we were all excited because we knew Erin had spent the night close enough to be arriving at the farm sometime around noon or soon after. So the Archibalds decided to dally long enough to see her before they took off for their challenging trip home to Texas. Erin has moved from College Station to an apartment in Belton since her new school is at Temple. Her family is going to miss seeing her as they were able to do this past year. Although he likes to sleep in on his day off, Trent had arrived early enough to let the boys finish the last video, and then he helped them dig more worms to go fishing again out on the lake.

We’d almost finished our bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches with potato salad, corn on the cob, and chocolate cake when Erin drove up and joined us. Everyone wanted to hear about her new husband Joshua and how to pronounce her new last name. Josh is now stationed in South Korea, and they communicate daily between midnight and 2 a.m. but are able to Skype on the weekends. While we visited with Erin, Tara quietly cleared the table and filled the dish washer. Then they had to go. It was difficult to tell the Archibalds goodbye, but Erin’s presence made it less lonesome.

Erin, Trent, and I ended back sitting around the table again while we visited. We heard about the writing workshop Erin had just completed for her new position. This workshop made her miss her annual coaches’ gathering, which she regretted, but she had loved the workshop and the presenter. Erin’s enthusiasm was contagious. Trent and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her materials and hearing all the ways she’d been shown to get sixth graders writing, editing, and sharing their work. And we read Erin’s essay in the booklet that the workshop had published. Trent, who reads widely, is interested in everything, and Erin made us both want to see kids bending over their desks happily writing about their lives. It will be fun next summer to hear her tell us how well these ideas and methods worked.

Too soon the afternoon ended, and she was off to her cousin Sarah’s house as Sarah and her husband were cooking dinner for her. I ran in to check on Katherine but did not stay long in town as the aide had things well under control.

This morning I woke up to Gerald and Erin’s excited conversation as they breakfasted together, but by the time I got up, she was already out walking—clear down to her Uncle Louie and Aunt Chris’s place! Soon Mary Ellen showed up here hoping to visit with Erin, so I benefitted from that. Mary Ellen has been working so hard all summer that she couldn’t stay long as she had finally planned a mother-daughter day with Brianna after bringing her home from Orlando near the end of June. Erin was taking Gma Shirley out to lunch, so I am hoping it worked out for Mary Ellen and Bri to lunch with them as Erin invited after she found out she’d missed Mary Ellen’s early morning visit.
After a quick lunch, Gerald went to Cape Girardeau as his brother Keith is once more back in the hospital, and later I ran into Katherine’s to give afternoon pills. While I was there, Sam and his friend Josh came in from the cruise to the Cayman Islands that Josh’s family took the boys on for their high school graduation celebration. I knew Erin was going to supper tonight with her friend Candice; and when I got back from Katherine’s, there was her note on a napkin with a drawn heart reminding me where she was. Now Gerald has returned, and we have talked over his visit with Keith. We have also talked to our son Gerry who is headed back to Texas early in the morning. He and Vickie are in the East where was he scouted a softball player. It is not easy keeping track of our family during these busy summer months.

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