Wendy and Peter
Monday July 01st 2013, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

There was a new neighborhood being built just outside the then-future DC Beltway, with California-style houses with panels of glass set floor-t0-a break about waist-high-to-ceiling, looking out on the woods; it was near a ten-mile-long park set aside as a watershed preserve with Cabin John Creek running through it. Frank Lloyd Wright had built his youngest son a house to the left and down around the corner. You’ve seen Calvin and Hobbes on their sled out in the wilds? Yes.

There was a crowded neighborhood near the DC line of “war boxes,” my mom called them, small starter homes for returning GIs that large families quickly outgrew. My folks had four kids in one bedroom there.

And so three families picked up together when I was three and moved to the quiet new neighborhood where there were miles of trails along the creek to explore that had been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression, there were children to play with, parents who knew each other and looked after each others’ kids and you knew you couldn’t get away with anything–it was a great place to grow up.

One of those families was Wendy’s, and so I’ve known them all my life. Their house was the second door to the upper right of this photo.

She and her husband decided to come from across the country to take a tour of Napa’s wine country and it turns out they were flying in and out of San Francisco airport. He had an old college roommate in the Bay Area who wanted to see him, and I meantime offered to drive up to the airport to try to see them for, oh, maybe ten minutes while they were waiting to go through security or something but only if it would work out okay for them.

They had a better idea than that.

They were meeting the old roommate for dinner in Burlingame at 5:00, and Richard and I drove up to see them at 4:00. To show off our husbands to each other. To reconnect.

We all ended up walking a half block from where we’d met up to a place Richard and I knew would be a lot quieter: and so there we were, back in Copenhagen Bakery, buying those Chef’s Surprises again. (And now we know why they’re called that: the filling is almond and–whatever. Not blueberry this time; his was apricot, mine egg custard.)

We talked. We laughed. We all showed off pictures of our kids, our two grandsons (they’re not there yet), Wendy’s sisters and kids and her parents, and it just now hits me writing this that I forgot to show her pictures of my folks–the point being that it is amazing how, 36 years after I probably last saw her and childhood long left behind, I could have picked any one of them out of any crowd anywhere. It was so cool.

Part of me, part of you, always will be. So glad it’s so true.

She wondered, Do you remember running through our storm door?

Yes, I thought it was ajar and I just went to go push it the rest of the way open to tell Marcy who lived across the street to stop bugging us while you were trying to teach me a new game. I had just enough time to think I didn’t know that glass bends… (And then I stuck out my arm across the table.) Wendy saw the scars, proof of her memory of the story, and exclaimed.

I added, I always tell Californians it was a window (which it was, but) because they have no idea what storm doors are. (Flimsy screen-type doors, only with glass instead of metal mesh, to give you one more line of defense against the latest thunderstorm or hurricane.)

How long had I had lupus?

Diagnosed 23 years, why?

Her sister they think might have…

I’m so sorry. While being glad I was proving that life can go on, d* the statistics, full speed ahead!

Wendy had been beating some statistics of her own this past year and we knew how good we had it that we were able to get together. It was so good to see her. So good to see what a good husband she has, and such beautiful kids!

The college roommate and his family walked past the windows of the bakery, glanced in, saw us and the guy’s face totally lit up and then his kids’ did–just like ours had (and had stayed that way, and I imagine theirs did too). Peter ran to go throw his arms around them, Wendy staying for just one last hug and laugh of our own first.

I tell you. I could live off the joy of this day for a long time to come. Thank you thank you thank you, Wendy and Peter. Blessings on you and yours forever.

Edited to add–p.s. You guys are heroes all over again. I told them about the Caremark debacle in Jan ’09 and how you guys called, emailed, stormed the gates en masse, and in a life-and-death situation made that company pay attention and get me my Humira after all, after their employee had told me on the phone that they weren’t sure they wanted the liability of providing me with such a dangerous (read: newly approved very expensive biologic) drug and had refused to send it. Go you guys!

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For the information of your readers, Wendy’s father was the head of the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the components of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. There were four girls, whose ages nearly matched our four girls. The eight daughters were constantly in and out of both houses.About a dozen years ago the daughter just older than Wendy came back to visit the neighborhood. She was dropdead gorgeous. She thanked us and gave us the ultimate compliment: we had given her an image of what an ideal family should be. We were astonished but appreciative.
You leave us some questions. Which daughter might have lupus. Where are the other three girls and what are they doing? What about the parents? The last report we had–quite some time ago, from Billie Marx–was that the mother was enjoying retired life as a beachcomber on the Eastern Shore.

Comment by Dad 07.02.13 @ 7:34 am

More comments. Our first house was not one of those little postwar crackerboxes built for ex-GIs but a split-level.
The picture shows Honeybee Lane. The driveway that starts to the left in the foreground is our drive. Just down the street on the right is a mailbox. That was the home of a family whose young son grew up to be Steve Colbert of comedy fame.
The neighborhood was full of kids. Many of the families (including ours) moved in during the summer. When school started a bus came. It was so crowded that the school changed routes and sent a new bus to our neighborhood. It made just two stops, the ends of our block. It was a great place to raise a family.

Comment by Dad 07.02.13 @ 7:43 am

The heck with statistics! We don’t live by statistics! When I had the brain abcess, I was told I had a 50-50 chance to live. Came out on the right side!

Glad you had such a good time with your friends. Hard to beat that kind of a day!

Comment by Donald Meyer 07.02.13 @ 9:03 am

I loved reading your dad’s comments perhaps even more than I enjoyed reading your post! Lovely connections – and here’s to even more of them.

Comment by twinsetellen 07.02.13 @ 5:09 pm

Love reading your dad’s comments. No coincidences.

Comment by Channon 07.03.13 @ 9:14 am

Hi to Alison and the Jeppson family (and all who read this blog)- It’s Laurie, Wendy’s older sister and the second of the “four girls”, the one who “matched” Carolyn in age!- I loved hearing from Wendy about you and your family. Our childhood was a wonderful time, and the neighborhood was a wonderful world of friends and fun. I have such memories of sleeping over at your house, having Carolyn sleep over at ours, sharing meals together, going to the library with your family in the station wagon and sitting in the “way back”, and catching tadpoles in the creek. And yes, I remember Alison’s accident with the storm door too! And in answer to your dad’s question- My husband and I live in Bryn Mawr- a beautiful suburb outside of Philadelphia. We are both doctors and have raised three wonderful daughters (obviously daughters are a theme!). Our second daughter lives in NYC- so our next visit will have to involve seeing Carolyn again! Sending love and blessings to all of the Jeppson family- Laurie

Comment by Laurie 07.04.13 @ 9:10 am

It’s Dale Laurie and Wendy’s older sister, the one who matched Marion in age. I really enjoyed our two families…my main memory is visiting you for Christmas and the way we would eat dinner at each others houses. I remember going into the woods and playing. Marion and I got together years ago..and I loved seeing her children and hearing them play the piano. It is good to be in touch again!!!

Comment by Dale S. Brown 07.06.13 @ 9:09 pm

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