some things take time…

The sun is shining and I saw a robin in the backyard as I poured coffee into my mug earlier this morning. It’s chilly now, but it’ll warm up this afternoon. It’s the last bit of Spring Break, today, tomorrow, then school resumes. It is always the best part of the year for me; not because the year is almost over and summer is on the horizon, but because what I’ve taught my students begins to blossom like a field of daffodils bursting with color on a bright spring afternoon.

Spring break this year was what it needed to be – a break. B and I decided to divide and conquer. I took the kids and the dog and went north to the cottage in Michigan and she went home to Ohio visit and care for her parents and an older sister who recently became ill. B’s been in Ohio caring for her dad and her sister, off and on, since mid-February when her older sister became ill. We (the kids and I) got home last night. B is still in Ohio doing what she needs to do. We’re keeping a low profile – being here when she can talk and getting ready for school to start Monday.

This morning, I am relaxed, though I should be terrified and probably will be later this afternoon. In the meantime, I write, or try to write. I left school last Friday with two class sets of essays I needed to mark and they are still unmarked, though some may be quite remarkable. Today, reading and grading those papers is on my horizon. I had planned to sit down and do some grading and planning over the break, but instead I watched my kids ski and snowboard while standing outside in beautiful sunshine – without a coat, jacket, or gloves. We logged over a thousand miles this past week driving a triangle north to the cottage, then south to grandma’s, then finally home. Along the way, we had adventures and fun; and a few misadventures, too. We visited with family, rested, relaxed, and wrestled with the inevitableness of the end of life.

It seems the past few years have been a long road of the end of life. It began with my father’s passing in 2009. I began the blog the following year and chronicled my journey to France with my dad’s cremains and his final resting place. Since then we have all aged – I am five years older and a few pounds heavier, and certainly a lot greyer; though, deep down I feel younger each day. Everyone around me is five years older. My son, W, is a sophomore in high school and quite a young man – even though he fights me every inch of the way. My daughter, O, is in the last months of elementary school developing into a fine young woman. They are part of the reason I feel younger each day, and at times VERY OLD, but deep down they help keep me young. My mom turned 75 last spring and O and I traveled home to celebrate with her. This year she adds another year. My step mom and my in laws are five years older too.

One of the benefits of writing my blog is that it chronicles my life and thoughts, though they are somewhat sanitized. I have written about my in-laws several times. Over the years, we have spent time with them at the cottage and at their home in Ohio. We have shared a lot and they have accepted me as their own. They used to visit, but that stopped a few years ago when their travel was limited. Over the past few years, they have been slowed by time. My time will come but, for now, I watch, I remember, I pray, I listen, and I write. Below are a few of the posts that chronicle our journey:

The kids had fun skiing and boarding Sunday and Monday. We hung out at the cottage Tuesday and just relaxed. Wednesday, we drove to south to Ohio and stopped in Detroit to take in a Detroit Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park. I was an avid baseball fan growing up and remember writing my dad when I first moved to the Midwest in ’91. I recall writing how excited I was to be so close to so many teams – the Sox and Cubs; as well as the Brewers, Twins, Tigers, Cardinals, Indians, and Reds and how I hoped to take in games in their ballparks. Until Wednesday, I had only seen baseball played in Chicago. Sad. Sometimes life gets in the way. When I proposed the ball game, I planned to take in a Reds game the following day in Cincinnati.  Rain and other things got in the way of that plan. Regardless, the kids were very excited and enjoyed the Tiger game Wednesday. It was a beautiful sunny day; cool, not hot, but the sun was intense. The game went extra innings and the Tigers beat the Royals 2-1 in 10 innings. It was an exciting game to watch and we didn’t mind the sunburn. Afterwards we navigated through traffic and I let W take the wheel for a couple of hours.

It rained Thursday and we spent the day visiting. B’s other sister, had driven up from Texas to help and brought her oldest son. The kids always enjoy seeing him.

I took the kids and we drove to visit with Grandpa. We recognized us right away. We visited for a brief period and a bright smile came across his face; it was wonderful to see him smile. It’s always difficult to see him now. He was once a strong man that kept busy until the past few years when time caught up with him. He’s (we’re) waiting for a permanent facility to become available that can better provide the care he needs. On the way home from visiting grandpa, we were able to see my sister-in- law, B’s older sister, and a smile came across her face when my kids visited with her. It was good to see her smile. Her sister has not had much to smile about lately and she was moved to hospice care Thursday. It has been very hard on B, she is the baby in the family and it is never easy seeing your family struggle, especially your big sister.

I have been struggling with writing this post, trying to get it just right. I’ve read and re-read it, editing, re-editing to make sure it’s clear, and I’m still not sure it is. Recently, I have been working with my students on ‘vague pronouns’ – or pronouns that are unclear and seem to leap out of the sentence and ask who, what, when, where? When I introduced the concept, I admitted to them that I struggle with vague pronouns in my own writing – that lesson has haunted me this morning. Regardless, it’s time to move on or the day will surely pass me by. It’s going to be a great day; I know it and I can feel it. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, especially one day at a time.

What has held you up today or recently that you were looking to get just right?

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6 thoughts on “some things take time…

  1. I love the photos, Clay. The hatcam is sure to make some fun videos. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

    I’ve never thought about it before, but you are right, blogging is a great way to keep a journal of sorts. I’m glad you’ve been able to “go back” and re-live some of those great memories in your past.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. Hmm. Not good in may case. We have been royally messed about by an insurance company that we asked to insure our car as it re-enters the English system from France. The teacher in you would have been very cross, because they NEVER repond to questions. Anyway, drafting the letter of complaint and getting the tone just right has been the order of the tea-time spot. On a better note, I enjoyed reading your post about your journey to France for your dad. I find those war cemeteries extremely moving. So glad you had the chance to visit, though not for a happy reason.

    1. Thanks….it is the smaller issues which dog at our heals and make our walk most challenging. It was a wonderful visit – as kids we lived in Paris for six months… I barely remember it. I was four and half and my two younger brothers were three and one and half… I don’t know how my mom survived with three boys in Paris and not knowing how to speak French.. but she did and we have many happy memories (and laughs) from that time. When we went back we hung out together as brothers for the first time in many years.. my brothers live in the Houston area and I am in the Chicago area about 900 miles – we rarely see each other – but we keep in touch… it’s tough with our schedules and lives… but that was a wonderful trip and I re-visit those posts often. I dream of taking my kids to visit – it is such a peaceful place.. my wife and I were able to visit that very cemetery when we visited in 1997… I think it was then he decided that was the place he wanted to remain forever….

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?