Monday, June 27, 2022

Half-Way Through The Year

This has felt light a rough year so far, but for no good reason.  Yes, I have been sick a lot more than usual, more than in the last many years, all piled into just a couple of months, but it was not serious sickness.  Just annoying.   And yes, I am more tired than I can remember being, craving more sleep and still not feeling rested.   And yes, I am crabby crabby crabby, quick to take offense, and feeling like the rock I push up the hill is waiting to be pushed again every morning when I wake up.

But really, I’m fine.   Don’t get up, as Dr. Cranky used to say.

Jack and I took a week off to drive from here in Mid-Michigan to southern Illinois for his brother Mark’s memorial service this month.  Mark, who died last winter, was the first of the seven siblings to be lost, and he was one of the youngest, so it hit especially hard.  This was the first long drive in one of our Teslas and I did all the driving.   In many ways it was more relaxing than being home.  We took two days down and two days back, so it was a ridiculously easy trip, and pretty much uneventful.  One nice surprise happened when, in one of our overnight towns, we stumbled by accident in Kankakee, Illinois, on the first Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style homes, built next-door to one another by siblings.  Better yet, we had a chance meeting with the president of the board that maintains the houses, and he gave us a private tour of the main floor. What a beautiful place.   The next time we drive down to visit family we will try to arrange to tour the rest of the house, which is only open to the public two days a week.

Quite a few of Jack’s family members were at our final destination, with most of us staying in the same hotel, which is always an adventure.  There were about 23 of us; I was probably the oldest, at 72, and the youngest was 8 months old.  The general area was home to Jack when he was young, so we had to stop at the family favorite “Dairy Haven” (which has local fame for swirling sherbet with soft serve vanilla ice cream), make a bakery run for gooey butter cake, and drive past the world’s largest ketchup bottle.   Fun for me and a bit of nostalgia for him.

Jack’s sister Jill has 4-year-old twin granddaughters.  One of the girls informed me that her twin was taller than she was,  and I was the one who broke it to them that their grandma was also a twin, and that her twin was taller than she was, too.    The girls were not sure whether or not to believe me; although they are also fraternal twins, they didn't expect a boy-girl duo.  

The memorial service was sad, of course, but had its lighter moments, too.  Mark was something of a character, and so were many of his friends.  

Mark had traveled extensively and collected many handcrafted local items wherever he went.  He kept a large collection of wizards, and wood carvings, and dried frogs and lizards, among other things.  He was known for hard work and hospitality and spent several  years as a contractor.  We heard from a man whose mother was dying and indigent, and Mark took her in and cared for her until she died.  When the family asked the friends to share stories, after the usual awkward moment of silence, one woman raised her hand and blurted out, “He bailed me out of jail,” and added under her breath, “more than once.”  As the laughter died down, a man on the other side of the room called out, “let’s see a show of hands of everyone he bailed out of jail,” and more than  half the room raised their hands.  We heard about the huge barbecues Mark held on building sites, where he invited anyone and everyone, with no one turned away.   And about how he paid for people’s medical care or housing if they fell on hard times, always sharing with an open hand and heart.   Although it was an intensely sad time for Mark’s family, I loved hearing the stories since I had only met Mark a few times, and, although he was very welcoming, we had never had a serious conversation.  I felt like I got to  know him just a little bit, and wished I had known him more.

It also made me think about what my own memorial would be; certainly not as interesting as Mark’s.  I guess there is still a little time to change my ways, in order to create some interesting stories for after I’m gone, but I hope I won’t need to be bailing people out of jail to do it!

Back home again I have been able to spend a little, not enough, time with my nearly grown grands, and I've even gotten into the pool once this year, although I am not as active as my lovely Ray and Joseph's girlfriend Vanessa!

So really, despite being tired and cranky and often just done with the world, everything is fine.  Sometimes I just need to turn off the news and focus on my own little bubble.

Sunday, June 5, 2022


Life seems lately to be spinning, although I am mostly standing still.   In my head I am so busy, in reality there are way too many days when I accomplish nothing.  Sewing has fallen to the wayside, although my list of intended projects only gets longer.  I am 'working' on a separate journal for baby George, in case he doesn't get to know me well before I am 'gone', but only a few pages have been actually written.  Jack and I are talking about traveling next year, but here in my actual life my knees and feet are making even daily trips to the bathroom a struggle.  We have been in this house for almost three years, but instead of becoming more settled, it seems to fall further into chaos every month.  All of our energy is taken up watching the baby, still full time, but he is such a delightful burden that we can hardly imagine our lives without him.  

Jack and I have both been sick several times this year, almost constantly since March, an unprecedented amount of sick days between us.  We both had pneumonia, followed (and preceded) by a variety of unknown viruses.  In between, Jack has had bouts of dizziness, and I have wrenched my knee.  After years of feeling that we were both relatively healthy, we feel like we are falling apart.  I can no longer imagine getting into and out of a kayak, or sitting on the ground, or walking through the woods.  I was the most recent virus casualty, but now that this recent illness is over, I am hoping we can have some clear sailing for a bit.  As soon as I was mostly well, I went and got my second Covid booster,  hoping that will boost my immunity in any way it can.

Next week we will drive (I think mostly I will drive) to southern Illinois to celebrate the life of one of Jack's younger brothers, Mark.  We will spend several days with his large family and I expect there will be tears and laughter.  It will be our first time seeing them since shortly after we were married; the party we had, or tried to have, to celebrate our wedding with them was the last time we saw Mark.  The party ended when Mark collapsed and an ambulance was called.  He recovered but we all knew he wasn't taking good care of himself, so  his death was not as much a surprise as it might have been.  He left a mess of an estate for his siblings to untangle, and some of that work will be done while we are there, but the siblings who were local to him are carrying most of the burden.

My beloved older Grands have only a couple days left of school - final exams are this week - and I will try to see them both before we head south.  Being with them, hearing their ideas, is a tonic to me.  They, and my son and daughter-in-law are among my greatest joys and I do not see them nearly enough.  Hopefully this summer we will have a few good days together, I am even hoping I will be able to swim in their pool, although my failing knees are threatening to ruin that dream.  Climbing up and down the short ladder seems impossible at the moment.

Still, hope springs eternal.  The weather is warming, or at least showing signs that it will warm.  The trees are green and flowers are starting to bloom.  A few days of feeling well and a good night or two of sleep and my little world will seem manageable again.