Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Parents

A few weeks ago was my parents' 55th anniversary.  It was more poignant this summer as my dad had fallen and crushed his pelvis, and my mom had to help him at the nursing home, caring for him and yelling at the incompetent employees.  Now my dad is home but still using a walker and in pain.  He will have hip replacement surgery next month, and my mom will have to care for him again and yell at incompetence run amok.  Even so, when the anniversary came near, my dad always remembers, so he asked me to get her a card and flowers, specifying what kind. This is what he gets for her every year: a beautiful bought of a dozen red roses, and the biggest, fanciest card he can find at Hallmark.

Theirs is a marriage that started out tumultuously.  They were young and didn't have a home of their own.  They lived with his parents until dad came to the cities to get a better job.  After that, he sent for my mom, who came on the bus, and then they went to live with his aunt.  My mom learned how to drive and they worked hard until they had enough to buy a trailer house.  

From there, they kept working hard until my dad decided my mom should stay home with the baby (my sister), after when she came home and saw the sitter feeding her with cold Spaghettios from a can. I can just see the horror in my parent's faces.  My dad determined to provide for the family and so he did, while my mom did the paperwork for the business that he co-owned.

My dad got my mom's teeth fixed, my mom helped him improve his limited reading skills.  They were in it for the long haul, even though my mom didn't know how to cook at first.  One time when my dad was sick she had to drive him to the hospital, even though she didn't know how.   At another time my dad shattered his neck and was in the hospital, and my mom cared for him and yelled at the staff.

My dad taught my mom to speak up, she was so shy at first.  Now she has no problem!  She can mix it up with the toughest New Yorker!  They enjoy watching PBS, playing cards, and just being in each other's company.  Nothing could ever tear them apart.  But in each trial, they put their hands to the plow and determined that they were going to get through it.  And they did.

My dad likes to talk about how he first saw my mom as a teen, playing baseball with the neighborhood kids.  He said to his friends that was the woman he was going to marry, even though they had never met.  My mom was a tough nut to crack, as she had 5 brothers that were enough trouble.  But he persisted, and she gave in.  

I am amazed by their marriage, especially after this summer.  You don't see too many marriages like theirs.  Even though they have been married a long time, they still love each other, and are partners that seem to complete each other.  They epitomize the vows that are said in the wedding: for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.  

I never doubted their love.  I was lucky to rest in the knowledge and belief that they would never divorce or give up on each other.  Yes, that is rare these days.  But I am sure glad I have been witness to that.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

MN State Fair

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Ever since I was little, my family and I went to the MN State Fair, every year.  We literally got up at the crack of dawn and drove, parking at first beyond Machinery Hill, later by the Coliseum.  And we stayed all day into the night, taking a break in the middle to enjoy a horse show.  Finally, we walked up that hill that seemed to last forever to our car, either beyond the farm machines, or up and over the bridge beyond the animal barns.

I loved the smells, that even I could smell, even the smell of smoke from cigarettes, as it reminded me of good times there.  I even loved the smells emanating from the animal barns, the smell of meat grilling, and the smell of pastries frying.

I loved the heat baking on my body, especially in the crowded areas of Heritage Square or Mexican Village.  And I loved to stumble about the dirt and hay trying to see the baby animals in the baby barn.

I was mesmerized by the machines that made the Tom Thumb donuts, or the weird robotic baker that stretched out the salt water taffy, around and around.  I marveled at all the cool new things one could buy in the Grandstand or Coliseum, usually things that once bought, collected dust in the recesses of my closet.

Summer is my favorite season of the year, partly because of the fair.  But it is bittersweet: it is at the end of summer, just before school starts.  And even though I am no longer in grammar school, I still feel depressed and anxious this time of year, knowing the cold will come again and the sun will no longer warm us.

But to get off my woe mobile and back to the memories, my family’s favorite rides and foods were: the Space Tower, carousel, and double Ferris wheel; and  the turkey leg, Indian fry bread, chocolate shake from the cow barn, and Tom Thumb donuts!  Along with these:

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Funiculi, funicula!
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With milk!
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The one and only!
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I bruised my tailbone!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Summer's Over

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Summer is my favorite time of year.  It is too short, and my days in the pool are too few.  I crave the warmth and the sun, and I love wearing as little as possible.

This summer my dad shattered his pelvis.  I had a car accident.  My sister's dog died.  My arm and hand are sore.  We missed our annual Duluth trip.  We missed our New York trip.  They stopped having Saturday night services at my church.  I did not get into the Transformation Center group at my church.  There is no more Women's Bible study at my church.

Aside from the miraculous rescue from my car accident, it has been a tumultuous summer.  But, I can look at it all and be thankful I am here and not trying to escape Iraq and Syria.  I don't live in an inner city that is roiling with riots.  I don't live in a poverty-stricken area, or a natural disaster-stricken area.  I have family, my own home, and all I need to live independently.  I have the opportunity for a new career.  I have a trip with my mom to look forward to next year to the South of France on a Vikings river cruise.  

So even though there are many changes that I am not happy about, I can be thankful for what I do have, instead of lamenting about what I don't.  

I do want to send a thank you for all the police officers out there who risk their lives everyday for a thankless population.  I want to thank our soldiers for their sacrifice.  And I thank God I am an American.  Even though things are tough sometimes, we are still the greatest nation on God's green earth due to the Constitution, and to our founding fathers who dreamed of a better time and a better place.  We are the recipients of their dreams, and I hope we will never take it for granted, or allow those dreams to be destroyed.  We owe them that.