The beautiful bride and groom and the reason for the trip East. My generous childhood friend Karen put us up and enjoyed our marveling at rain, real rain, real East Coast rain and oh that depth of green everywhere!
Meantime, our mutual close friend Kathleen’s brother, diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer three months ago, rallied and somehow hung on yet a little longer.
We got to spend the time with her she’d needed, when she wasn’t caretaking, and his hanging on helped her feel permission to come unload on us; it’s hard and we knew it and we needed to comfort her as much as she needed that comfort.
It was a rare gift to be able to be there for her. My niece could never have known when she scheduled her wedding that her timing was exactly right for someone she’d never heard of.
And in possibly related news…
Friday, Richard and Karen and I picked up Mom from where she was staying and it having been ten years since the folks had moved away, we drove Mom around old haunts for the afternoon.
My old high school, where she had worked: it was gone and a completely new building was there now, still red brick (another familiar essence of I’m-home re the style–bricks crumble in quakes so there’s very little of it in California) but so very different.
The house I grew up in that Mom and Dad had had built for them: it looks like a single story at the front but opens into light and warmth at the back, built into the hillside dropping behind it with Californian floor-to-ceiling windows upstairs, and downstairs, windows nearly that big, taking in those beautiful woods.
It had been remodeled and looked very different–but I had seen it during that process and she hadn’t and I knew how much she would love what they’d done with it. Outside, those plants covering the side screens alongside the wheelchair ramp to the front door were new to my eyes.
I tried to talk Mom into knocking on the door with me. She just couldn’t quite.
It was to be a six-patient assisted-living facility, which the folks did not know when they sold the place. Turns out it never took off and now is simply rented to a man and his son.
Which we found out from Barbara when…
We pulled the rented navy Camry into a driveway on the side street up the hill. The lace curtains had not changed but Mrs. N. wasn’t home, so Richard backed back out and Mom directed him across the street and up just a bit.
Where Barbara was. She had seen us walking up to that first door and then pulling into her driveway and was wondering who and what on earth was going on.
And then I knocked on her door.
Her daughter Elaine opened it and staggered backward–and I think I did, too. “What are YOU doing here?!!!” she exclaimed in thrilled disbelief.
She lives in Tennessee and she knows I live in California and Mom in Salt Lake now. What I didn’t know was that this was the weekend of her high school reunion. With a December birthday I had just missed being in her class, but still we knew each other most of our growing up. We had reconnected on Facebook but hadn’t seen each other face-to-face in decades and I was absolutely the last person she expected to show up right there at her mom’s door. Or my mom either for that matter but there we were.
We had a great time. Richard and Karen got included in it, and Kathleen’s brother in the conversation; no, Elaine didn’t quite remember that name, but she wished him well in his current journey forward.
And Susan, I have to tell you: I have particularly enjoyed how perfectly placed each pointillist dot is on a cowl I made out of your yarn, Burnside Bridges colorway, evenly balanced everywhere. Elaine admired that cowl, too, and as the conversation and our time there was winding down she mentioned again how very pretty it was.
“I have another one, this is yours,” as I took it off my neck and offered it for hers.
A gasp, “NO!”
Again, “I have another one,” I grinned persistently.
She was grateful, she was disbelieving, she loved it, she was thrilled–and she made me want to go knit for everybody everywhere right now. I had needed that, which she couldn’t have known, and that was her gift back to me. And it was no small thing.
I do have another. In Koi Pond, not quite the same colorway but close. And, because I didn’t find where it had fallen out of the suitcase while I was packing till after the trip, it’s, uh, not quite actually finished yet. Close enough to claim it, though, right?
And I think that’s why Kathleen’s brother was, and as far as I know, is, still with us: it was his reunion, too. There was a chance to see his old friends one last time who might be coming into town, if they came to him. I so hope they did.
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