Sunday, September 11, 2011

Travel log and preview of things to come.

Precariously balanced in my mind are a post about what the beauty of the church should be like, and a post to my daughters in the "Good-bye girls" series about health and beauty.

Reminding my girls about what I know about health is probably reasonable, although the idea of me giving beauty advice is clearly laughable. When our kids move away we have this need to try to tell them about things we wish we knew about, even if we have never become accomplished at them. My hope is that true beauty flows from good health, as well as from a loving spirit toward others and especially from the fullness of Christ in us.

But before I get to those two posts, I want to write about our trip out to Minnesota where we surprised my parents with a visit. Surprising them may not have been the best of ideas, since my dad had just suffered a massive heart attack. But we wanted to spare them the angst of preparing for us, so we decided just to show up, having made arrangements to stay with my Uncle Don.

We couldn't go immediately to Minnesota upon hearing about the heart attack. For one thing, we were in North Carolina when we got the news, and we had to stop at home first. My dad was doing pretty well, was stable, so we went ahead and got Laura packed up for college upon our return home after vacation.

The time at home also enabled Shawn to set up visits with customers his company services, customers he would visit along the way to Minnesota and thus not miss another week of work.

We delivered Laura to school on August 22, as originally planned. Since we live in central New York and she goes to college in western PA, we were already headed west, which is the same direction as Minnesota.

We had to rush a bit and leave before everything was "just so." But Lu has a cozy, comfortable room that is practically identical to her room last year, albeit on a much higher floor. We felt that as we carried things up.

Here we are, saying good-bye to our second daughter. I suppose it was easier to do since we had to hurry on to Chicago where Shawn had visits lined up for the following day. There's nothing like keeping busy to take your mind off things you don't like to face.

We had beautiful weather for driving to Chicago, blue sky and fluffy white clouds, black thruway headed at 73 mph for the west, cutting through green trees and the fertile farmland of Ohio.

We arrived fairly late at our hotel and ended up eating at a Boston Market instead of taking Jonathan to Lou Malnati's. Well, beef brisket is always tasty even though it's not, well, Lou Malnati's. I guess we will just need to go to Chicago again sometime.

The next day was rainy. I drove Shawn to his first customer visit and then went back to the hotel where Jon and I relaxed. I plunked around on my little netbook while Jon watched a cable movie. Just before noon, we checked out of the hotel and went to get Shawn. He had an hour break, so even though we weren't very hungry, we went out for lunch at a sweet little place called Egg'lectic. It was awesome! I only wish we'd had bigger appetites.

From there, Jon and I dropped Shawn off at his afternoon appointment, then headed to a mall where we killed a few hours and found Jon a new pair of sneakers for school.

We picked Shawn up at about 4:30 p.m. and from there we drove to Madison, Wisconsin where we visited my nephew Dan, my brother's son, who just graduated from college and started his first job. After we went out for dinner together, Dan put us up for the night in his apartment.

Here are Shawn and me with Daniel.

Daniel and Jonathan.

Dan has a beautiful apartment. He was such a good host, and turned his whole living room over for our sleeping comfort. He inflated an airbed for Jonathan and collapsed his futon for Shawn and me.

Dan used to play quads in Phantom Regiment, a drum and bugle corps in the DCI (Drum Corps International). Jon is interested in all things field band, so he was duly impressed by Dan's commemorative drum head arrangement on the wall.

The next morning we headed to Minnesota, where we finally got to see my parents.

We arrived in the Twin Cities during my mom's naptime, so we went to my sister's house to kill time. At 4:30 p.m. we thought Mom would be up, so we headed over.

The sign was on the door: "Napping. Please do not ring the doorbell. Please do not knock." This is the sign that has been on the door during naptime ever since I was a baby, and clearly it does not leave one with many options.

We looked in the windows, and my dad was neither in the den nor the living room. Then I thought to look in the garage, where I discovered that Dad's car was, in fact, missing.

I had a key, but Shawn and Jonathan told me for heaven's sake not to use it. So we stood on the front steps of the house wondering what to do. Just when we decided to take a walk and come back later, my dad floated up the street in his Buick, peering out the windshield at our van (which was parked a little beyond the driveway) and then at us. For a moment he looked confused, and then he broke into a smile.

Dad ushered us into the house and we sat and chatted in the living room, waiting for my mom to get up. He had been at his cardiac therapy, and he was doing quite well. He looked a little bit thin and a little bit pale, but otherwise good. It was so good to see him.

After awhile my mom got up. She didn't know who was in her house, so she didn't come out to say hello. Finally her curiosity overcame her and she peeked around the corner to see who was there, but even then she couldn't figure it out until she walked right up to me, and then she very nearly had a heart attack herself. "Oh Ruthie!" she said, "Is it you?"

This is Mom in her kitchen.

We assured my parents that we would stay with Uncle Don, but they insisted that we stay with them, and so we did, in the self-same bedrooms of the house where I grew up and lived all my life. It was a blessing, that's for sure.

Jon was a champion while we were there. He mowed.That little speck in the back in a yellow shirt is Jon... it's a very big yard.

He also climbed up high on a ladder to cut some dead branches out of a tree.

And, while he was there, Jon celebrated his sixteenth birthday (a day early since we had to drive home on "The" day).

Aunt Nunie came over for Jon's birthday dinner (which was heart-healthy chicken breast and brown rice with vegetables and lettuce salad). Aunt Nunie was a missionary in Africa for 30 years when she was younger. Now she is 86 and does visitation at nursing homes, where she is older than many of the residents she ministers to. We love Aunt Nunie. She brought Jonathan a card and an elephant hair bracelet that was handmade in Africa.

It was a good visit. Dad's color improved and his eyes got twinklier over the three days we were there. I am thankful to God for the way He allowed the visit to work out. I am thankful that my dad is doing well. And I am thankful that I got to hug my dad a few times.


Ruth MacC said...

Jon is a big chap for 16!!! I can understand how good it was for you to meet with your family. Good for Jon too I think. Hope you and your family are all well. Sean started school on the 1st and is loving it. God bless.

Anonymous said...

so happy to read of your visit with your made me feel like I was there greeting Jim & Bonnie personally....surely your visit was stimulating for all.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much for your comments! Yes, Jon is HUGE!! He is 6' 4" or 6' 5" and still growing into his hands and feet. When we were taking the pictures on the front steps before we left, my dad grinned at Jon and said, "Hey Jon, why don't you stand on that step right down there, a little lower!"

It was a wonderful visit, so good to be home. An added blessing: we got to see my brother and sister-in-law who came up from South Dakota to see everyone while we were there (where was my camera then???). I wish my family was closer together, but I am thankful for times like we had at the end of August when God works it out that we can actually be together. I suppose we appreciate it all the more for its rarity.

Shawn said...

It was a good trip.

Terry Wesp Askren said...

Dear Ruthie:
I am so happy you had a wonderful time with your parents and family.
I'm so glad your dad is doing much better now.
I enjoyed looking at your pictures. Your dad, mom and Nunie look so good! I have so many great memories of them :)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with everyone.

ruth said...

Hi Terry! I have great memories of babysitting for you! You will always be frozen in my memory as a sweet young mother. Thanks for commenting.