Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homeward Bound

Old age sets in quickly.  So when 9:30 p.m. crept around last night and I hadn't posted an entry in my blog yet, I decided it was "too late" and I'd do it today. It wasn't that many years ago, was it, that 9:30 was the time we were just getting started partying?

Yesterday, we drove from Memphis to Naperville, Illinois, on the beginning leg of our trip home.  Memphis to Naperville is about an 8 hour drive and one that again brought us ... dare I say it ... torrential rain. I know the entire nation has been experiencing an extremely wet spring and early summer, so I shouldn't be surprised.  But on 4 separate days in the last 2 weeks, we have driven through major rainstorms to get to our destination.

We stopped to eat breakfast right before the downpour started (we could see it coming, but we HAD to eat!).  After dashing to the car from the restaurant, my husband was soaking wet and cold.  Fortunately, I had one of those homemade fleece blankets handy .. I don't leave home without one!  Check it out on my husband's lap .. also note the little light to the right of his right knee .. that means the seat heater is on!  This is June 18 for heaven's sake! 

My brother has lived in Naperville for 12 years and we don't get to see him that often, so had planned our itinerary through that route in order to visit and have dinner with him, his wife, daughter and his daughter's significant other. My brother, who is the youngest of my 4 brothers, is 10 years younger than I.  He was 7 when I left home.  We don't know each other as well as siblings might who are closer in age.  Add to that the fact that I am the 2nd of 10 and he is the 7th, and there's even more reason that we don't feel totally connected - there were a whole bunch of kids in between us that he could buddy up with .. and what the heck did I have in common with a brother so much younger than I?

Last summer, while my husband I were on vacation in Ireland, this same brother had a very serious cardiac event. He spent more than a month in the hospital and we weren't sure that he was going to survive.  It resulted in my realizing, thousands of miles away, how important he was to me .. and it resulted in his determining, months later, to live life to the fullest in the time he/we have left.  This does not come across as a morbid philosophy, but rather a refreshingly frank look at life as it is ... he is going to enjoy every minute he has with each of us as we cross his path. We can learn so much from our younger siblings if we let them teach us ... he is a salesman, not a teacher, but he was my teacher last night as he talked with great honesty about what he sees as his life path at this moment.  I found myself looking at him and thinking how relaxed and fit he looked despite what he's been through, appreciating his good looks and great sense of humor, and realizing how much I love him and how I wish we lived closer. Naperville is 8 hours from where I live.  While it's not within "dropping in" distance, I'm going to try to "drop in" more often, via phone calls and email if not in person.

Dinner was at Hugo's Frog Bar and Fish House in Naperville.  I understand the fish part (I had king crab-stuffed shrimp), but don't know what the Frog Bar is all about - should have asked.  The crusty French bread and appetizers beforehand were delicious, especially the calamari, not usually one of my favorites.  If you're in that area, check it out. 

We left Naperville early this morning for the trek home - oh, and did I mention we hit a bit of rain today also? I have to admit the Wisconsin drive wasn't much more exciting than the Illinois drive ... the most exciting part of the trip was viewing all of the old "Collector" cars that were heading east on 90/94 as we drove west.  At first, we assumed there was a car show in Wisconsin Dells to which the cars were heading, but it could have been a car show at the State Fair Grounds in St. Paul that the cars were coming FROM. We didn't start counting cars until we realized we had probably passed 100 or so.  They were all colors and shapes and by the time we got off the Interstate, we had seen probably 150 of them.  My husband enjoyed identifying the years and models .. especially every "50s" Chevy that passed.  We had Sirius XM radio playing the 50's station while we were driving, so it all seemed to fit together.

We had hoped to eat lunch at the Norske Nook in Osseo, Wisconsin, but when we arrived we discovered it was Lake Marthe days and the entire downtown was blocked off for their parade and carnival.  So we turned around and had lunch at Moe's Diner (almost world famous) which was enjoying the overflow crowd from the Norske Nook, resulting in some pretty slow service, but passable food.  Since Moe's Diner looks like something right out of the 50s, it was a perfect ending to a 2-week roadtrip the focus of which was a 50 year class reunion for the class of 1961 from St. Justin's High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Crossing the river from Wisconsin into Minnesota and knowing we were "almost home," felt so good.  It's Father's Day and our 3 daughters had all called or emailed Happy Father's Day wishes to their dad while we were traveling today.  One had promised to stop in after we arrived and she did, complete with steaks, homemade baked beans and sugar pea pods for our dinner!  There wasn't any better food served at any restaurant in the last 2 weeks .. because this was delivered with love.  2 weeks on the road is a long time.  Pulling into our driveway at about 4:00 p.m. today was wonderful.  Dorothy was right .. there is no place like home.  And the best part of the whole trip, since I'm now retired .. I don't have to go to work tomorrow!

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