Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I do miss the Midwest.

I miss fireflies. I miss cardinals. I miss seasons. And man, o man, do I miss thunderstorms. We got a couple of real serious t-storms one of the days we were cleaning out Gaga's apartment. Here are some photos from that evening.





Rosalie Myers, 1916-2007



And then we flew to Michigan.

We came into Lansing at a little after midnight. Barry and Sandy picked us up and we drove back down to Jackson. We went to the hospital the next day to see Gaga. I don't really know how to write about seeing her. She looked so different from the last time we'd seen her, at Christmas. Her vitality was gone, maybe everything that made her her was gone, or maybe it was invisible, or resting in a hidden place. She had dozens of get well soon cards taped to the cabinet doors of her room, and framed pictures of herself and her husband, her kids and grandkids and greatgrandkids and greatgreatgrandkids (!) on all the available surfaces. Sarah's sister Rachael made a collage of family photos from the last fifty years. The hospital staff were so kind and conscientious, checking in to see how everyone was doing, bringing breakfast and snack trays, and just being really warm and supportive. Thank God for good people.

Gaga died a few days after we arrived, the day before Adam and Mary arrived from Maine. I feel really lucky that we were able to be there to see her before she went, and to be there for Sarah's Dad and the whole family. Stuff like this, in my limited experience, is such a strange balance between sad and festive. Deaths have the capacity to bring family together, and that brings a dynamic that swings between retrospection and finding out how loved ones have changed and grown since the last time everyone was together. Lyle Lovett has a great song that I think captures this feeling, called "Family Reserve" from his album, Joshua Judges Ruth.


L to R: Rachael, Mary, Sarah, Mandy


Mary


L to R: Bill, Adam, Rachael, Z, and Barry


Barry Myers


Barry and Rachael

Then...


Why the Sideways, Blogger? Anyway, Chris Murray's huge face will frighten you into buying a lottery ticket, apparently.


Grizzo and Gabe.


Sarah and Mt. Shasta, ala Alex Katz.


Mt. Shasta.

Best Laid Plans

So I was 0-for-2 in predictions in my last post. No Olympic Peninsula, no GA.

When we left Oakland, we drove more than 12 hours up to Breitenbush Hot Springs in southern Oregon, where we tried our damnedest to relax, without really succeeding. Then we visited good buddy Shauncito in Corvallis, where he is finishing his PhD, and living with his PhD advisor and the advisor's family. Great to see Shaun, and wonderful to meet his hosts, but by the time we were driving North, backpacking was the last thing either of us wanted to do, much less any more time in the car, plus Sarah was sick and feeling crappy. So we detoured to Seaside, OR, and a youth hostel we'd stayed at on our bike trip. Man, did we stay there! Four nights, altogether. We cooked, read, hiked, canoed, went out for dinner...really swell, low-key vacation.



Where the River Meets the Sea


Sunset From the Back Porch of the Seaside Hostel



Shipwreck @ Fort Stevens State Park, North of Seaside

Sadly, our vacation wasn't all sunsets, unicorns, canoes, and shipwrecks. We got a call from Sarah's dad Barry in Michigan the first night we spent in Seaside. Her grandmother, Gaga (aka Rosalie), had fallen at the nursing home where she was recovering from a stroke, and then had another stroke and things weren't looking good. Four days later, on our way to Portland for GA, we got another call from Barry. We had stopped for lunch at a McMenamin's off of Hwy 26, The Rock Creek Tavern, when we got the call. Gaga was unresponsive and was getting hospice care at the hospital. She was getting neither food nor water, and it was only a matter of time.

We found an internet cafe (coincidently only one block from our erstwhile GA host Gabe's apartment), found not-entirely-unreasonable plane tickets to Lansing, and found Gabe. Our flight left in two days, giving us one evening in Portland, a 12 hour drive back down to Oakland, a night to pack, and an early morning flight from SFO. Gabe, as one might expect, was the consummate host, and Portland in the summer was beautiful, but it was a really surreal evening.