by Bob Sparrow
The narrow, winding road through the rolling hills had two lanes, one in each direction. The darkening sky reached down to touch the expanse of furrowed fields, which were now brown and barren, but once were, and will be again, the verdant home to acres of corn. But before that, and for several months to follow, it will be covered in a blanket of snow. With apologies to Robert Frost, I noticed that in these parts, ‘no fences make good neighbors’, as there are no fences separating properties, whether it’s forty-acre farms or tract homes, no fences, except to keep the cows in. And while there are no fences between properties like we’d see back home, there are lots of silos, something we don’t have a lot of in California. As I slowed down for a four-way stop, I noticed a middle-aged man, wearing a rust-colored, checkered flannel shirt and a worn Twins baseball cap, walking from his house, down his long, dirt driveway to his mailbox, which sat on a 4 x 4 post where the driveway met the road. He had his collar turned up to a slight breeze and 13-degree temperature. Hickory, Maple and Oak trees stand bare with dark branches stretching to the gray sky; only the pines and firs still hold their leaves, waiting for a dusting of snow to put them in their holiday finary. I spotted two deer carcasses lying in a ditch on the side of the road, reminding me to drive very carefully as it gets darker. It had been quite a while since I had driven on a ‘real’ country road – it was at once calming and exhilarating.
I cannot remember the last time Linda and I were not home, hosting family for Thanksgiving, but then again, I can’t remember where I put my car keys this morning. We typically would have the whole family to our house, which, for the last several years, has also included Linda’s sister, Starlet and husband, Donnie. But for medical reasons they were unable to ‘snowbird’ from Minnesota to Arizona this winter, and thus were not able to drive over to California for Turkey Day. So, we decided to take this opportunity to go back to Rochester, Minnesota not only to be with Starlet and Donnie for Thanksgiving, but also to be with Linda’s 97-year-old, sharp-as-can-be mother, Phyllis, who was able to break away from leading her retirement home attendees in their exercise program to join us! We would also get a chance to see two of Starlet’s daughter’s family, oldest daughter, Denise and husband, Gene and their three kids Garrett, Lindsay and Will, and middle daughter, Debbie and husband, Paul and daughter, Anna and son, Matt; youngest daughter, Ella was unable to make it.
In case anyone has concerns about this ‘younger generation’, here’s a quick bio on Starlet’s grandkids with whom we were able to share the holiday:
Grandkids from oldest daughter, Denise and husband Gene
Garrett – Graduated from U of Wisconsin, is now enrolled in a doctorate program at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, where he is studying Aerospace Engineering – it is rocket science!
Lindsay – Graduated from U of Iowa in Global Health & Physiology and is now working in the health field in Washington DC
Will – A junior at U of Wisconsin studying Electrical Engineering
Grandkids from middle daughter, Debbie and husband, Paul
Matt – Graduated from St. John’s, MN in Mathematics, and is working for Edwards Jones Investment Company and living in Denver
Anna – Graduated with honors (3.96 GPA – What, she got a ‘B’?!!!) in Bio-Chemistry from Sacred Heart in Connecticut, was captain of the women’s hockey team and a candidate for NCAA female athlete of the year. Now in a Physician’s Assistant program.
Ella – Studying Bio-Chemistry at St. Benedict’s in St Joseph, MN and will follow her mother in becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy
(Not in attendance) Grandkids from youngest daughter Melissa, who is an architect in Houston, and husband, Chris’ two daughters,
Sydney – graduated from U of Texas in Finance
Macy – currently a student at U of Arkansas – getting a teaching degree.
My brain hurt just putting that all together! The whipped cream on top of this Thanksgiving Day punkin pie (home grown and made by Gene) is that they are all as ‘Minnesota Nice’ as they are smart – parents and kids alike.
Needless to say, we had a great, AND educational Thanksgiving; hope you did too!