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Thanksgiving Leftovers

First time I've been on-line since a stimulating ICQ conversation with a new friend Wednesday. You know who you are dear. I'm sitting here at work drinking blackberry zinger tea instead of my usual Earl Grey because I ran out. I must say it was a rather bizarre holiday weekend. My folks are visiting which is comfortable but also a little strange. For approximately 320 days of the year, the farm is mine because I'm the only one there. But when they come to visit, it's theirs and I end up feeling like a guest in my own house. The rules all change. Doors get locked at night and lights get turned off as soon as you leave the room. Someone asks you what you want for dinner rather and you feel obligated to eat whenever everyone else eats. Plus Deb and I can't make love because my parent's room is right next to ours and sound carries incredibly well in that house. The only thing worse than catching your parents having sex is knowing they are listening to you having sex.

I got down to the farm around 8 Wednesday evening. Immediately Dad involved me in all sorts of plans for remodeling and cleaning the house, pretty much outlining what my holiday was going to be like. Deb finally got there around midnight. She'd been over at her cousin Gwen's house peeling potatoes and making homemade noodles and getting the turkey ready to be deep fried. She was having dinner with her mother's family over is Astoria and then going to Macomb on Friday to have a meal with her father's family.

We all woke up bright and EARLY Thursday morning. 6 am for Dad and I anyway. Deb didn't see the light of day until 9 or so, and then she was grumpy 'cause I'd forgotten to make her coffee and she had to drink Mom's decaf. Dad and I went out to cut firewood since we didn't have to be at the first dinner until around noon. We got an entire truckload of oak with some elm mixed in and we could still get three more truckloads. Mom was in a hurry to leave by then and kept prodding Dad and I. Deb had already left to be with her family. We made it over to Beardstown around 12:15 to eat with some of Mom's kin. The dinner was at her sister Kay's house. As soon as we walked in, Kay's husband Frank was asking us if we wanted something to drink. They're all Irish and at least moderate drinkers. The Irish whisky was flowing well but I stuck with white wine. Dinner was wonderful. Mom's family is all good cooks so it doesn't matter whose house you visit, you can be assured of being stuffed. Baked ham and turkey and Frank's Lasagna and all the traditional fixins. Afterwards all the hunters and former hunters (like me) sat around and regaled one another with strange hunting stories. My cousin Mike from Phoenix was home with his two Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Jack and Skye and had been duck hunting for the past two days. Other's had been deer hunting. I relayed my story of having been working on a ranch in New Mexico in 84 when we got really hungry in the back country. We decided to set a tree trap for a wild turkey. So we bent over an aspen and tied a rope on with a noose in one end and put the noose out on the ground and covered it with leaves. Next day we came back and we had a turkey allright. Damned thing got it's leg in the noose and was flying circles around the tree. Looked like a big feathered tetherball. After that, we didn't have the heart to kill it and had to let it go.

After all the requisite hugs and kisses, we finally left there around 3 p.m. Then we went home, changed clothes and piled into the truck to go over to Dad's sister's farm near Camp Point. They had made dinner for 28 people who had mostly left by the time we got there, but there were still plenty of desserts. Dad and I unloaded the firewood with the help of two of my young cousins. Then we went inside to feast and talk. After a big meal and stuffing ourselves with many kinds of pie and cake, we settled into the living room around the big wood stove where Dad and I promptly fell asleep. And we started to snore. Mom said we were snoring in stereo and looked like bookends. Hopefully no one took our picture.

We finally got back home around 9 pm and Deb called, still at her aunt's house in Astoria. She said they had a good dinner but everyone was disappointed that Deb's mom didn't show up. She said she'd be home later. For the record, I don't know why anyone is disappointed anymore when Deb's mom doesn't show up. She's done it for the four year's I've known her. She helps plan all these family events and then at the last minute, calls with some lame-ass excuse and doesn't show up. The everyone asks Deb what her problem is and Deb ands up feeling guilty for it. Then, she will show up at our house a couple days later and act like nothing happened. So I was prepared for Deb to be upset when she got home. She must have been really upset this time because she actually burst into tears in front of my folks. It took me hours to get her calmed down. Then I just put her to bed. I stayed up for awhile making plans with the folks.

Friday was totally rainy and nasty. Really cold and windy too. The folks went to Carthage to visit with the rest of Mom's family. Deb went to Macomb to be with her Dad and brother. I stayed home to clean the studio so we could move some furniture around. I've used the studio as a junk room for the past year or so and it really needed cleaning. I was able to get rid of 14 big boxes of papers that I could find no reason why I kept in the first place. The highlight of the day was that I found I have a new cat living in the barn. Big orange stripped tom cat. So Friday night I took food and water out to the barn for it.

Saturday, was a day for shopping for the women and working for the men. Mom went to Springfield shopping with yet another sister and Deb went to Quincy shopping with her cousin. Dad and I moved a heavy file cabinet out of the studio and into the computer room. We also took a big walnut stereo cabinet out of the studio and downstairs to the parlour. Then we got a glass table moved into the studio so I could place all my healing stones on it where they could be in the sun to recharge. We also moved a bed into the studio so now we have beds in three of the upstairs rooms. So if someone comes to visit, there are more than enough beds. Mom got home around 6 and we made dinner. Hamburgers and beans and I fried potatoes and onions. Good stuff. Deb made it back by 7 and then her cousins came back by and we went to a housewarming party for Grandpa. After everyone else left, it was down to six of us who sat around drinking and watching the X-Men moving before playing cards until midnight. Deb and I got home to find Dad waiting for us. He wanted to tell me my uncle Jake had gone to the emergency room because he had lost feeling in his left arm. They did a CAT scan and found that the cancer in his lungs had spread to his brain. We all knew this meant he wouldn't be with us much longer. So I said we should probably go visit him in the morning.

Sunday morning, we took our old entertainment center and an old single bed over to Grandpa to use until he can go out and buy new furniture. Then Deb left to come back to Peoria and confront her mother and the folks and I went to visit Jake. We were supposed to meet one of his daughters at Jake's old house. He's been in a nursing home since his colon cancer surgery three weeks ago. He can't take care of himself any longer but instead of looking for homecare options, his daughters elected to stick him in a nursing home. Can you tell I'm a little bitter about that? So we went to the house where his daughter was complaining about how hard everything was to do and then started asking us if there was anything we wanted from the house. Mind you, my uncle isn't even dead yet and she's already arranging to sell the house and have an auction for all of his possessions. I comment to Dad later that was a very uncomfortable situation. Then we went to my aunt's restaurant and had a noon meal. Then we went to the home to visit Jake. The home can best be described as an obliete...a place to put people to forget about them. It was run down and smelled terrible. The smell of human bile was heavy in the air and having just eaten, I almost lost it. My uncle was there and not there. His body had deteriorated to the point where he was little more than a skeleton. The light was still in his eyes but you could tell he was scared. We all walked down to an activity room where the smell was better and we could talk. Jake is in a small room with another man with full blown dementia. The other man steals Jake's clothes. In fact, Jake was wearing the other man's shirt in spite of the fact the staff is supposed to lay Jake's clothes out for him in the morning.

We talked to Jake about mundane things. How's the weather and how the crops did this year. He brought up memories from 60 years of farming. Going back to when he used to plow 40 acre fields, 2 rows at a time walking behind a mule all the way to when he retired in the early 80's and went to work selling tractors for John Deere. He remembered me going over the fence for a softball at a family reunion and getting chased by a bull. That was 25 years ago. He commented to my dad about the presidential election and a football game on TV in the activity room. So much for claims from his daughters he was losing his mind. When we got ready to leave, he got up and smiled and shook my hand. Still a firm handshake from a man who supposedly can't take care of himself. The light was a little brighter in his eyes and he gave me a big smile and commented on how I'd grown up taller than my dad. He walked us to the front door of the home and as we left, he waved at us through the window of his prison.

From there we went to my Dad's sister's house again. They had not heard the most recent development and when we told them, Mervyn, Jake's cousin and nearly as old as Jake, said, "Well it won't be long now then!" We sat around for awhile talking about Jake and what to do and didn't reach any satisfactory conclusions. I found out then that Jake has not even been told the results of the CAT scan. So he doesn't even really know why he's in the home. Later, we left and went home. I packed an came back to Peoria.

Normally, I'd walk in at 8:15 on a Sunday night and Deb would be avidly watching the X-Files. Last night, I got there and the TV was off and Deb was asleep on the couch. I picked her up and carried her to bed knowing her mother had been there earlier. If Deb was so upset she would go to sleep and miss the X-Files, there must really be something up. Deb didn't even want to get undressed so I got her slippers off and just pulled the covers over her. I came to bed about three hours later but was soon awakened to Deb hacking and coughing. Seems she's come down with a cold on top of everything else. So we are supposed to talk about everything tonight. Should be a fun night...not.

Today, I'm just catching up and trying to get in a mood to actually do some work. Oh well, maybe after lunch.




Wander aka StoneBear
Bear Dancer Studios

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