You always know it is autumn at my house when the ground is littered with walnuts. Even with a handy-dandy walnut picker-upper, they seem to carpet the yard and overflow onto the walkway. Colorful trees and flying leaves leave no doubt as to the season. I left up Halloween decorations while I readied my house for company.
My sister-in-law Sissy and brother-in-law Jim had sold out and were headed to Oregon to live near their children. My nieces, Brenda and Sherry, have spent the past weeks helping and they were all flying back together. The plan was for them to spend the night and I would take them to the airport hotel Sunday.
Saturday, they arrived from two different places. Not sure how many were going to be here, I cooked a scary big pot of chili and had deli meats for sandwiches. As people began to arrive, I made pot after pot of coffee. Soon my house was wall-to-wall people. Just like the old days.
The house filled with laughter as we visited. “You know who would have really loved this?” I asked as family gathered in the kitchen. “Jim. He loved spending time with family. Sometimes he would come home and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re having a jam session—and I invited everyone to dinner.’ Of course, he’d have no idea just how many were coming.”
My niece, Sherry, had her video camera going, just like Jim used to. It reminded me of the two of them talking about their multitude of family tapes. “We’ll have the history, Uncle Jimmy. Everyone else will forget, but we can watch our videos and remember.” She was correct. So many slices of life would be forgotten without video.
Sherry and I walked out into the yard to reminisce. “We want to reminisce too,” chimed in my granddaughter and great-niece.
“You’re not old enough to reminisce,” I said.
“I’m half of sixteen,” my great-niece said.
The two girls seemed to be joined at the hip. They entertained with dance routines and songs, advertised with posters announcing various show times. They stood on the porch steps, facing the flag, hand over hearts and sang the National Anthem. My six-year-old grandson stood at attention and saluted the flag. The scene was amazing and touching, especially considering the flag they used was my autumn “Welcome” flag, with pumpkins on it. In their eyes, it was as valid as the stars and stripes as they sang the song without missing a word.
Sissy and I sat at the table watching the commotion going on outside with four-wheelers, interactions between cousins, older and younger.
“You can sit right here and be entertained,” she said.
“It’s like watching a reality show, isn’t it?” I agreed.
Saturday evening, Sherry and Brenda went to a Halloween party with my son, Rob, and daughter-in-law, Stacey. They came in laughing and joking at midnight. One of the highlights was Brenda winning the costume contest, without a costume. Of course, it helped that Rob was the judge. He said she was dressed exactly like his cousin Brenda from Oregon.
Sunday morning the time change helped us all get up earlier than we thought possible. After coffee, we fixed a big breakfast—biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs—and then Rob and Stacey tackled how to fit all the Oregon bound family’s luggage into the trunk of my car. Amazingly enough, it all fit except a small overnight case.
Early afternoon, we loaded into the car for the drive to the Airport Hilton. We stopped by North Kansas City Hospital so Sissy could visit her sister who had been admitted a few days earlier. Then I took them to the hotel.
Sherry checked them in and Sissy sat in one of the big comfy couches in the lobby. Jim and Brenda were loading luggage onto a cart. When they opened the trunk, I was impressed by the neat arrangement of luggage. There was not an inch of wasted space!
I hugged everyone, determined to keep it light and happy. “I’ll be seeing you,” I said.
I jumped in my car and drove across the parking lot and stopped to have Onstar plug in the directions home. As I sat there, I thought of Scotts Mills, Silver Falls, Crooked Finger, the scent of pine on a breezy mountain. Thought of Jim and how he loved Oregon and visiting his childhood places. But I didn’t cry. I just smiled and whispered a prayer for happy trails until we meet again.
Copyright (c) by L.S. Fisher November 2013