Sunday, April 28, 2013

Home Again

Two weeks ago, I flew to my younger brother's home west of Milwaukee, for his retirement party.  During that time I also rented a car and then drove 40 miles south of Chicago, to visit old homes, old friends, old schools, old church - much has changed, both good and bad.  It was all a very rewarding excursion/vacation. This blog post includes photos for family purposes.  However, there IS one quilt photo included!

Since I currently live in a small western Nebraska town, with only 5 traffic lights, and NOT having driven in traffic in umpteen years, I was a teeny bit concerned with driving through Chicago, not being familiar with heavy traffic, and unfamiliar highways.  Brother kindly loaned me his GPS gadget, and while I politely refused, he fortunately convinced me to use it.  (I am too stubborn!!!)  I was happily converted to it's usefulness, and managed the drive relatively easily.  Thank you little brother!!!

This was one of the first quilts I made, for this now-retired brother, when I became obsessed with quilting.  It was from Eleanor Burns and would enjoy making another, in the same pattern.  It was so comforting to see it again, well-used and cared for.

This is one of 2 boys, of 15?? grandchildren.  This family produces girls!!!!  Look at that face!  What a solid "chunk" he is.

The kids corner at the retirement party.  They had space to run around, play, and there was even one Kids Table of refreshments, just for them.  This party was arranged by his 4 daughters and one son - it was so lovely!  They did a beautiful job!

The gift, card table.  I'll bet there were over 100 guests.  People from the neighborhood, his church and many related to his hospital career came to show their friendship and appreciation.  It was all so touching.  

My brother was shocked and humbled at the gifts, cards, letters of appreciation, fishing equipment (part of his retirement plan), and a LOT of gift certificates!

More of his "stuff".

His wife, also named Elaine, also enjoyed festivities with her big smile.  At the back of both their minds are the never knowing, "what will retirement be like?"   There are many projects on the "to-do" list.  Fortunately, he is clever and mechanically gifted and can manage most projects himself.  

During my stay outside of Milwaukee, I rented a car and then drove south of Chicago, to see former homes, former digs, former schools, and church, as well as rekindling a friendship with a high school friend of mine.  While we've been visiting ala E-mail, we hadn't actually SEEN each other in uhhh 53 years.  We were both thrilled to find we just picked up where we left off and both enjoyed each other just like the girls we once were.  She and I drove all over old territories, looking at the changes.  Wow, there were a LOT of changes!!!  What used to be "rural" was full-blown TRAFFIC - UGH!

Here is my old grade school - the only thing that remains the same is that the word "Lutheran" is still used and it is mostly on the same physical location.  The building has been rebuilt twice ?? since I was there.  I recognized a member of my 5-student class on one of the Church Committees. 

Here is my old church, again, having been rebuilt so I could not possibly recognize it.  At the corner is major traffic.  "it used to be" old country roads.  Now there is only traffic.

Here is my first house, now much enlarged, but looking unloved now.  There was an enormous amount of rain during my visit (remember hearing of cars falling into sinkholes in Chicago?)

Next door, was a home where my brother once lived, purchased, needing attention when he moved in, looking very nice now.  The owners were outside, and remembered my brother, and also knew my girlfriend who was driving me on this expedition today.  

I used to live here (without the trailers, etc.) ages ago, and was happy to see it looked well-kept and cared for, with flowers and gardens.  

When my folks moved from the farm, they built this home, still looking OK and cared for.  All was so dreary with the rain and storms and flooding, it was impossible to find much sun.

The last photo is not taken - that of whatever was left of my old childhood home, a farm.  I knew that trying to find it was going to be sad, but I could not even FIND a trace of it - not a tree, not the creek, not the grape arbor, not a rock that Mom had moved into a garden.  The area was filled with debris, trash, garbage, overgrowth, and apartments on one side, an unattractive strip mall nearby.  When you live on a farm, the earth becomes everything, life, care, love, hope, food, the future.  It wasn't there now.  I knew where it was supposed to be, but decided what I remembered in my memories was so much better, I didn't pursue looking farther - there was no point to a photo.

The End.


Janet O. said...

Looks like quite an adventure, Elaine. My parents still live in the home I was born to, and attend the same church. My brother lives through the block from them, my younger sister lives around the corner from them and my older sister lives 5 miles across town. I am 5 miles in the opposite direction outside of town on my in-laws family farm. All of my husband's family lives on the farm except one sister, who is an hour away. These apples didn't fall far from the trees! : )
Love the little chunk in the second photo!

Lynn said...

Sorry you couldn't find the farm but looks like you had a great time otherwise on your trip.

Jocelyn said...

I do think that sometimes our memories are the better way to walk down memory lane.

Elsie Montgomery said...

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for sharing your trip home. I did the same a few years ago and know your emotions, both happy and sad. You expressed them well and made me feel them all over again.

Nice quilt too!


Vic in NH said...

Glad you are home now to enjoy the most delicious sleep of all...that of your own bed! It is good to reunite with family in happy times.

Elaine Adair said...

Test message

Purple Pam said...

Glad you had a great time on your trip, even with all the traffic. It is fun to revisit the past.

Carol E. said...

I have done some similar trips into my past in the last couple of years. It was shocking in both good and bad ways. I'm so sorry your cherished farm land has been trashed and changed so drastically. Glad you chose not to take a picture.

Cyn said...

Glad you are back home again all safe. Sure sounds like you had a great adventure. Thanks for sharing.