Here is a little about my personal life and a recent trip I made back to my home state of Ohio.
My trip to Ohio was smooth, fluid, and enjoyable. I was fortunate enough to find a direct flight both ways (San Jose to Cincinnati). On the flight to Ohio I sat beside a young college student who was returning home for the summer. She resides Northeast of Cincinnati and was excited to be returning. She also had a three and a half hour conversation with me on a four hour flight. How lucky am I? Once I landed in Cincinnati my friend, Clayton, and my brother picked me up. We made the two hour drive north to reach the small, midwest town I called home the majority of my life. It’s strange to say, but I realized this town, Urbana, is like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It’s a small farming community in the center of the county. It also boasts as the county seed, i.e., largest city in the county. In 1990 the population was 11,444 and in 2016 the population was 11,425. It’s the type of small town that not many people leave. It hasn’t grown much since my youth and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. It’s an honest, friendly, know your neighbor type of place where the park isn’t locked, the schools aren’t fenced, and there isn’t a single residence or shop with barred windows or bullet proof glass. Definitely a step back to a much slower time and atmosphere.
After the two hour drive I arrived at my grandmothers. This is also where I grew up. As I suspected, even though she goes to bed at 7:30pm on a regularly scheduled program, she was sitting up in the living room waiting for me. To be honest: this woman is my rock. She is the foundation, backbone of love. Through her I have discovered how to love myself as well as others. She as well as my grandfather also inspired me to be honest, hardworking, considerate, compassionate, kind hearted, and just an all around good person. These are my parent figures and the ones I am closest to above all others. I know they aren’t my paternal parents: they are far beyond. I greeted her with a hug, kiss on her forehead, and a loves smile that was reflected as emerald eyes danced with earth tones of ages wisdom. We talked briefly then she retired and I unpacked. Before I could get all the clothing out of my carry on my grandmother was beckoning for help. I knew that call, that tone, that voice like I know my name. My grandfather was having a seizure and she isn’t able to help him like she once did. *NOTE: My brother is living with them as an in home health care type. He’s a former EMT and is now a nurse for animals* It broke my heart to see my grandfather so helpless and incoherent. No matter how many times I witness this it never gets more easy. I would actually say it becomes more difficult. I should also mention my grandfather is epileptic so this is a normal, natural occurrence. Once he was back to “normal” we all decided to settle in for the night.
I spent the next day with my grandmother, grandfather, great uncle, great ucles husband, and a couple friends of theirs, Brenda and Dave. This was an unexpected welcome for me. Everyone met at my grandmothers the day before. It’s my understanding they had planned this get together months in advance and it just happened to coincide with me visit. As everyone arrived I found myself being a chatterbox. I have always gotten along with an older generation and found conversation comes rather naturally. We all talked and laughed for about an hour before someone, I can’t recall who, mentioned lunch was calling. They had all decided to spend it at “The Farmers Daughter” a local, hometown eatery. As they got up to leave I bid farewell and thanked them for the much enjoyed sparkling conversation. Before I could get my last thank you in Roger and my Great Uncle were inviting me along. At Rogers invitation I saw my grandmothers eyes light. How could I turn down such a gift? I accepted and we were off. Once at the restaurant I explained I wouldn’t be eating, but I would be enjoying beautiful people, wonderful laughter, light hearted conversation, and a delightful water. I know the only one who truly understood, besides myself, why I wasn’t eating was my grandmother. Nonetheless we moved on and enjoyed a beautiful lunch where I heard a rather funny joke from an 82 yr old woman. I’m going to paraphrase it, but imagine this coming from a modest, grandmother in her 80’s.
“Two cowboys were out camping when a snake bit one on the DingDong in his sleep. The cowboy that got bit awoke his buddy and said, “I got bit on the dingdong by a snake, what should I do? His buddy looked at him in shock and said, “I don’t know but I will ride into town, it’s only a few miles, wake the Dr. and ask him”. It was a short ride by horseback into town where he found the Dr and awoke him. The Dr. invited him in and asked to the urgency of his call. He quickly explained his buddy had been bitten by a snake and he needed to know what to do. The Dr. replied, “you have to suck out the poison where the snake bit him. If you do this he should be alright”. Unsure if he heard correctly he asked the Dr to repeat the treatment one more time. After the Dr finished repeating the treatment the cowboy said thank you and made his leave. He rode back to his buddy who was obviously still in pain and stared at him for a moment. “Well what did the Dr. Say?” the cowboy asked in eagerness. His buddy looked at him with serious eyes and said, “He says you’re gonna die.”
When she completed the joke the entire table, and a couple around us broke into laughter. I am pretty sure I laughed the hardest out of all of them and I’m certain no one had a clue as to why. After the joke the food arrived and it got rather quiet around the table except for the ensuing argument about who was fitting the bill. It took me a whole half second to figure out how to end the argument. I silently, and swift as a snow leopard, walked up to our waitress and asked to pay they bill. I gave a brief explanation of what I was doing and why which she told me was sweet and led me to the cash register. I paid and returned to my seat. Shortly after the plates laid empty and the conversation was pleasant. This ensued for about thirty more minutes before my great uncle Bob asked for the check. She said it had already been taken care of. Within a span of a fraction of a second every eye at our table was staring at me with a penetrating gaze. You know the one that makes you turn red and want to run and hide? Although there was a brief moment of protest eventually acceptance arrived. We all headed back over to my grandmothers and sat for another couple hours until everyone ventured back to their own homes. It was a rewarding dance I shared with beautiful people. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. The rest of the day I spent hanging out with my grandmother and playing a round of disc golf with my brother.
The rest of the week was occupied with seeing friends. I helped my buddy Mike work on his derby car. I’m not very mechanical, but that didn’t matter when you just have to take things apart. It was nice to see mike and get to catch up. He’s a life long friend and one I have had since elementary school.
I also went on a canoe trip with my Brother, friends Clayton, Sean, Pamala, Tim, and Sean’s two children Adeline and Samuel. This was a super fun trip and I found myself acting like a parent for a brief moment. Sean, Tim, and Clayton had taken the vehicles to the end of our route so we would have a way to get back to pick up the drop off car. While they were gone I got to spend some one on one time with the children. They’re our future and I will seize every opportunity to perhaps inspire them. I was sitting and talking with Adeline when Samuel came over, picked her life jacket up with his oar, and used it like a trebuchet to launch her jacket 40 feet. She went over and picked it and he laughed. She had a slight chuckle as well. This is where I just wanted to plant a seed so I asked him why he did what he did. He said he was only having fun and his sister just looked at me curiously. I took this time to explain to him that it’s ok to have fun and if that’s fun to him that’s fine, but consider that actions create certain outcomes and the reason behind the action needs to be understood if one wishes to understand the outcome. He wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to say so I elaborated more. “Consider this: Had you gone over and picked up your sisters life jacket after you threw it and returned it what would that have created? How would that have made your sister feel and how would that have made you feel? Or, if I threw your life jacket and had you go pick it up how would you feel versus if I threw your life jacket then I went, picked it up, and returned it? With this I saw his eyes widen and understanding express itself. I smiled at him and he grinned in a way young boys do. Shortly after everyone returned and we went down the river. It was a fun, relaxing trip which everyone enjoyed. It was nice too. We all had much fun made many wonderful memories.
This brought me less than 12 hours away from mothers day. The following day I would be having lunch with my mother, sister, two brothers, and grandparents. It was a pleasant lunch and it was the first time all of my mother’s siblings were in the same room in roughly five years. I must confess it took some convincing for me to persuade my brother to attend. I couldn’t think of a better mothers day gift. I’m pretty sure my mother knew I had a hand in everyone getting together because she pulled me to the side and said, “thank you!”. I was just grateful for the chance to give back. The next day I packed, said farewell to my family and friends, and flew back to California.
“Every story is us” ~Rumi~