By the time this is printed I will have been home for a week. As I looked out the window on the train, my thoughts drifted back to the two weeks I spent with my brother in Iowa. We had not seen each other for a little over two years.
My original plan was to drive to his place in October and drink in the beauty of the trees along the way as their leaves changed color in preparation for winter. But, as sometimes happens, plans change of their own accord. So the decision was made to go to St. Paul by train and then by bus to Des Moines, where my brother met us.
Thanksgiving dinner turned into two Thanksgiving dinners. The first one was on Wednesday night at the home of a cousin and his family. I was able to visit with all of his family, some of whom I had not had the chance to see for five years.
We had an invitation from a niece to have pie and coffee with her and her family late Thanksgiving afternoon. Arriving at her home, we were told we were just in time to have supper with them ... turkey and all the trimmings ... before we had pie and coffee. So, again, I visited with family members I'd not seen for too long.
I called a woman I had worked with years ago. I met her when I was employed at John Deere Ottumwa Works. We have been friends for 49 years. Each time I get to Iowa, she and I have no less than a three-hour lunch.
Several nights before it was time to come home, my brother cooked catfish and Morel mushrooms for supper. As we sat enjoying our feast, we talked about eating fish for breakfast and going mushroom hunting when we were kids. Memories. Memories that brought us smiles and laughter once again.
One afternoon was spent visiting with a classmate I had lost touch with. We tried to catch up on what had happened in each of our lives over the years. Laughter, memories, tears, and hugs were shared, and we parted, promising to not lose contact again.
Every day we visited with a whole host of family and friends. And my brother and I went to the cemetery to see the graves of our parents and grandparents, say some prayers, and share more memories as we returned to the pickup. Memories of people we'd known over the years and the part they'd played in our lives.
While at my brother's, I received word that a sister-in-law was in the hospital in Ottumwa. She'd had a heart attack. We were told she would have to remain in the hospital for several weeks before she could return home. We stopped to see her often, although our visits couldn't be more than 15 minutes at a time.
A surprise day trip took us to a large Amish store. Browsing through all the items, I knew I didn't have enough space to bring home everything I wanted to, but there will be other trips ... ones in which I will have my own car and be able to bring back more things I probably don't need.
Remembering the two weeks of being with not-often-seen family and friends, I know I am truly and generously blessed.
I saw several segments on television about St. Jude's Hospital while at my brother's. The theme of the hospital was Thanks and Giving. And that's exactly what Thanksgiving was this year and is every year for me ... Thanks and Giving.