Thursday, August 21, 2008

Michigan Summer

Well, though I am back from Michigan already, as always, my heart is still there, resting in the cool instead of steaming in the heat.

This trip was particularly enjoyable, I suppose because the family was limited to just a few. Of course, one of the things that so satisfied me when I first became a part of this family was the size, but this time I found it enjoyable to be in a relatively small group. We are lucky to have such close bonds with our extended family, but at the end of the day, it really is only the members of the immediate family that are really close, and that is as it should be.

We gathered for John's 75th birthday, and his family--Katherine, Chris and his wife Caroline--were in attendance for the first time, so we had the pleasure of introducing them to and watching them indulge in many of the simple joys that summer in Holland has to offer.

From Farmer's Market (where I could not resist taking pictures of the colorful produce and flowers), to the cool granite beach sand (that squeaks when you walk on it), and the tangy taste of blueberries (right off the bush), there are some things I have discovered in Holland that I've had nowhere else.

For example, unlike on even the best golf course Austin (where I've played but once), in Holland, I enjoyed the intense pleasure of hitting a golf ball off a lush green fairway, and then, the concomittent semi-pleasure of hitting a golf ball out of the first cut of rough along the same fairway--and then, of course, hitting out of the deep rough off the same damn fairway...but no more about that here! I got play with my favorite playing partner, Chris, and the best part was that there was no wait and no one playing in behind us. Steve joined us one day and was a delightful addition to our routine. He is a good player but also relaxed and always funny! A leisure sport, the way it was supposed to be.

I enjoyed some wonderful early morning walks on the beach with Valery. She is the perfect person to walk with in the morning. She is energetic but quiet. She is the most beautiful creature I have ever known, and the vision I had of her in the light on the beach as the sun comes up confirms this fact.

Another wonderful aspect of this trip was that Maddie was able to join us, thanks to the generosity of her grandparents and her own ability to navigate from her apartment in Portland to the airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's an understatement to say that it was a delight to see her, especially since this is the longest I've ever been away from her (or is it the other way round?) and I must say, she looked really good.

First of all, she cut her hair short again, and dyed it blue-black (sort of like Superman) so she looks very chic and, as someone said, very 'west coast'. Second, she has lost a lot of weight. And it's not like she's just dropped a few pounds overall, but she has slimmed down and her body has been re-shaped.

To be sure, she is still 'curvy' (her words) but the baby fat is gone and what's left is a beautiful young woman. She still hides the body because she has yet to have anyone appreciate it, but that will come. She's obviously in no rush to find someone, nor am I anxious to see her 'found'. I would love to see someone love her for who she is, but that's not up to me, now is it? It all goes so fast; I need only turn round and things will have changed.

Speaking of change, I can't let this entry pass without noting the profound change that took place in our family during this trip. It's like the proverbial 500-pound gorilla in the room; you can't ignore it but you don't want to let it take over, so here goes.

Billie is not well. This is my beloved mother-in-law who is more mother to me than my own; she is the woman who gave to the world and thence to me the greatest gift I have ever received: her daughter Valery. From this love has flowed everything I have known and loved for the past twenty five years. I do not know how I shall manage without it. I'll not dwell on that here, though, as there is much still to be done and much still to be said yet. Now is not the time for tears.

Change is always with us. We are change embodied, and for better or worse, we must always embrace it.


Jane said...


I have been enjoying your writing and photos. I'm often thinking of all of you ...And Billie.



Anonymous said...

awww honey, that was beautiful - you always make me smile through my tears...