August 29, 2014

Notes From The Open Road…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:13 pm

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Who owns the earth? Did we want the earth, that we should
wander on it? Did we need the earth, that we were never
still upon it?

—Thomas Wolfe
_________________

There’s only one way to take a road trip, the way I see it. Well, there might be more than one way, but there’s only one best way. You take a road trip alone. You travel with no baggage of any kind but your own. That’s how it’s worked for me, anyway. You live alone. You walk alone. And you travel alone.

I was feeling pretty relaxed about life, that Monday morning after the Great Bloomfield Amish Reunion. Well, mostly, anyway. I checked out of the Southfork Motel soon after eight. The nice desk lady smiled and we chatted. I’m heading out, I told her. Heading to points south. She wished me well, and thanked me again for the book. She had asked about it, and I had sold her one the day before. I hope you enjoy it, I told her. She was sure she would. After gassing up the Charger at the Casey’s down the street, I headed west on Highway 2 for Rt. 63 South.

There’s a huge trading post there now, by that intersection where 2 and 63 connect. Dutch Country General Store. And I mean, it’s huge. Someone cranked out a lot of capital to make that happen. It seems strange, to see such a thing in that area. Don’t seem like there’s enough people living around there to support it. Not unless it becomes a tourist destination in and of itself. Which might happen. I hope it does. Anyway, the place is pretty breathtaking. Large signs line the road. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Bulk Foods. And the one that pulls in lots of passers-by, I suspect. Free Soft Ice Cream. I had checked out the place, the week before. It’s just amazing what all they have in stock. Everything from groceries and meat to bulk foods to large stuffed animals. Trinkets, signs, you name it. I’m pretty sure you’ll find it there.

And that morning, I stopped in as I was heading out. I wanted to talk to the proprietor, a very friendly young Holdeman Mennonite. I had chatted with him when I stopped in before. He knew my brother, Titus. And he claimed he occasionally checked out my blog.

This morning, I wanted to do a bit of hawking, something I rarely do. I’ve never pushed my book on anyone. Today I would. I walked in shyly, clutching a copy. He smiled when he saw me. And I showed it to him. This book happened right here, in the area, I said. I think you should stock it. I have some in my trunk. I’ll sell you a few, if you want. He took it from me and looked at it curiously. I showed him the back cover. Right there. It happened in Bloomfield, Iowa. Right around you, here. I know they’d sell.

He smiled again. “We have to check out any reading material, before we sell it,” he said. Great, I’ll sign this copy and give it to you then, I replied. And if you decide to sell them, you can order direct from Tyndale. So that’s what I did. He took it from me willingly enough. I’m not sure what he’ll think of it, or thinks of it by now. Or if he’ll stock it. He may not want to offend his Amish customers. So who knows? But hey, I tried. I guarantee that book would sell in his store. Just thinking aloud, here. If any of you happen to pass through there, stop by and ask for it. A little pressure is always a good thing.

And then it was off, down Rt. 63 South. Toward the Missouri line. I can’t remember thinking about it right at that moment, but this was the same stretch of road where three scared and desperate boys rocketed along in an old green Dodge late one long-ago Sunday morning. Same road. Same scenery, just a little more built up.

Into Missouri then, toward Kirksville. I dreaded that little slog, through that city. I remembered it had a hundred stop lights, or so it seemed. When I approached, though, there was a delightful surprise. A bypass, right around the east side of the city. It was pretty new. My GPS kept screaming at me to turn right onto side streets, to the old Rt. 63. I ignored it, and very shortly Kirksville was behind me as I headed on south.

And I thought about it, as I drove along. The news we had heard last night, while I was out at Titus and Ruth’s home for supper. I think my sister Rachel texted me. And I called her, and we talked. It was about Dad. He had attended the funeral of little Abby, the day before. They drove straight through, to get to Kalona from Aylmer. And soon after the funeral was over, that afternoon, they drove all the way back home, straight through. The next morning, Sunday, he was pretty tired. So he told Rosemary he wanted to stay home from church, and rest. Which was fine, but unheard of, such a thing coming from Dad. He used to drag us to church when we were more than half sick, years ago. So something was dreadfully wrong, for him to decide not to go. There had to be. And there was. When they returned that afternoon from church, they found him over there in his little Daudy house. On the floor, incoherent. Of course, everyone’s first thought was that he’d had a stroke. He was rushed to the hospital in Tillsonburg. And the diagnosis came back. I heard it that day, that Monday as I was driving along. No stroke. He has a severe infection in his leg. Good. No stroke. But still, he was in pretty bad shape.

And it was almost more than an exhausted mind can take, to consider the loss of one more person in the family. No. Not now, Lord. Not now. We’re all tired. Weary, beyond words. I’m so weary of death and loss. And I’m so weary of writing about it. Can’t you just hold off, on calling my father home? And yet, I thought of the logistics. I was on the road. And I had my black suit and white shirt right with me. Funeral clothes, if I needed them. Whatever came, I would walk into it. That’s all you can do. But still. Lord, please spare my father for a little while.

The Charger cruised along into the beautiful sunny day. I-70 West for an hour or so, then south toward Springfield. Then off on little two lane highways, over toward Dunnegan. There’s something unique and very calming about the Missouri countryside. You can tell it’s Missouri land. Grass fields, kind of sparse and bleak. But it all seems so very laid back. Little towns sprout up, and you cruise slowly through them. Check out all the little stores on the square, half of which are boarded up. They once pulsed with life, those little towns. They once were worth building. Now they’re barely hanging on, most of them. Barely worth maintaining. I guess it’s some kind of symbol of some kind of cycle of life. But me, I’d rather have been around those towns when they were alive.

And I arrived at the ranch in Dunnegan, right at two o’clock. They welcomed me, Elmer and Naomi. My good friends, from back home. They bought the eight hundred acre ranch a few years back. Their sons, Raymond and Allen live there. Raymond works full time with the cattle and sheep. Elmer and Naomi go out for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. I had told them when I’d be coming through, and it just happened that they had some business affairs going on about right then, at the ranch. So there they were, my friends from Lancaster, welcoming me to their sons’ home in Missouri.

After unpacking in the large spacious guest house, I went on a tour of the place. Elmer showed me around. Eight hundred acres is a lot of land. Miles of it, practically. There’s lots of lanes and ponds and woods. And everything was so green. Usually the grass is brown in Missouri in July. Not this summer. They had an abnormal amount of rain, always coming down right at the right time. We went first to see the sheep. I have a particular soft spot for sheep; I used to raise a few back on the old home farm in Bloomfield. Raymond runs about four hundred “hair” sheep, total, with the lambs that came this spring. He does the natural grazing thing, with electric fences that he moves every day or every few days. Then on to the cattle. Red Angus and another brand I don’t remember. Cattle that can take the heat. Raymond grazes those the same way, moving the electric fence to new grasses every few days or so.

That night, after supper, I did something I hadn’t done in far too long. I went fishing. There was a pond across the pasture, with a dock. Elmer and I walked up, and we baited our hooks. I cast a line into the water for the first time in probably seven or eight years. And we just sat there and talked, two old friends. I think I caught one. Elmer caught half a dozen or so. We threw them all right back in. And as dusk settled around us, it was all so peaceful and country and quiet. And I thought to myself. It’s been way too many years since I fished a pond at sunset.

The next day, we just putzed around, running errands in town. And checking out the area. I could live in a place like this. I really could. We stopped by a little country flea market. It was so totally Missouri and so totally comfortable. Wandering through, poking at stuff laid out on tables. Chatting with the vendors. The day passed, and that evening a group of friends and family came around. Homemade pizza and salad, is what we had. It was all a good thing.

The week was moving right along. The next morning, I left my friends. On then, to the next stop. My nephew, Andrew Yutzy, lives in the Warsaw, MO, area with his family. They had been at the reunion in Bloomfield. That’s where Andrew was born. I had asked him. Mind if I stop by and see you for a day or so? He was adamant. Absolutely. We don’t get much family company. Stop by, we’ll hang out. And by late that Wednesday morning, I pulled into their little farm out in the country.

I met all the family, and was welcomed. Andrew took me around the place. Lovely little farm, over a hundred acres, I think. That afternoon, we drove around the area, and he showed me around. Land that was for sale, a farm here, a little acreage there. I felt the same as I had back in Dunnegan. I could live here, back in the Midwest. I really could. And one day, I probably will. Thing is, I just don’t know what there is to do for a living. If I could figure that out, I’d be out there a lot sooner than later.

It was pretty warm that afternoon. But Andrew insisted I would catch fish, if I wanted to, out by his pond close to the house. So we took lawn chairs out. The children came too. Andrew hooked up one of his rigs, and I started casting. Like I said, it was a real hot day, when fish don’t usually bite much. His pond must have been swarming with hungry fish, because for over an hour, I pulled them out, one after another. And threw them right back in. Nine, ten inchers, little bass. But it was a lot of fun.

We talked about the latest news about Dad, Andrew’s grandpa. After one night at the hospital, he had insisted on going back home. So he was released, that Monday. It was a very poor decision. That night, he tossed and turned, and called out, delirious. And the next day, they rushed him back in. His leg had swollen to twice its normal size, and was dark red. Cellulitus. The doctors instantly hooked him up to IV medications and oxygen. And there for a day or so, he drifted off right into that gray area between life and death. He was still hanging on, when I was at Andrew’s house. But we figured there was about a fifty/fifty chance he’d make it.

Andrew had fired up the smoker, way earlier in the day. And he proudly served smoked brisket for supper, a delicious feast. His wife, Marnita, and the children all went off to Bible School at their church, then. The children were all excited and eager to go. Andrew and I hooked up his boat to his pickup, and went off to a nearby lake to do some more fishing. It was the first time I’d ever done such a thing, I think. We pushed off, and Andrew headed a few miles to his favorite spots. We sat there and relaxed and cast in our lures. I caught one large Crappy. Andrew caught a bottom feeder of some sort. We just talked and caught up. About life, and how it goes. And how it is, sometimes. Andrew has a very nice little family. I look at that, and feel a twinge, now and then. I will never see, never experience such a thing. After dark, we headed home. The children were just going to bed. We sat around a bit with them. And then Andrew and I walked out to his pond and relaxed on the lawn chairs and just chilled.

The next morning, after a scrumptious breakfast with the family, I was on the road by 9:30. Heading back east now. Next stop, May’s Lick, Kentucky. My brother Joseph’s home. I’ve referred to it, but never explicitly told it, here on this blog. Because Joseph asked me not to. But now, he told me I could. The man has been seriously ill for about five years or so. Multiple Myeloma. A cancerous blood disease. A lot of people afflicted with it live for a good many years. You can manage it, if you’re careful. Joseph has been very careful, but there’s been more than a few times that he came just that close to leaving us. Earlier this spring, or maybe it was late winter, he got pneumonia. And it came within a hair’s breadth of taking him. He barely pulled out. Which made it all the more of a miracle, that all of my family was gathered there in Aylmer when we buried Mom.

And he tires easily, Joseph does. He has seen a lot, and suffered a lot. I had called him before leaving home. Told him I’d like to stop by, on my way back home. He was very welcoming. So now, on this Thursday of my week on the road, I drove the Charger east. All day, around St. Louis and on through Indiana. And by 6:30 or so that night, I checked in at a Holiday Inn in Louisville. I love Holiday Inns, not the Express ones. The real old ones, because they always have a pub attached. You can check in and unpack, and walk down for some food and drink. And that’s what I did that night.

The next morning, I headed on east. Looked like I’d arrive in May’s Lick around eleven. I hadn’t figured on the road construction, though, on those two-lane highways. I puttered and putzed around, through small town after small town. And shortly before noon, I arrived at my brother’s place.

His married daughter, Laura, and her husband and family live in the big home house, now. Joseph and Iva have moved over to the little attached house, where Dad and Mom used to live a few years back. I shook my brother’s hand, and they all welcomed me. Lunch would be served soon. And Joseph and I just sat there and caught up. It’s been a while since we’ve had a real one on one conversation, face to face.

He had a couple of funny stories to tell me. And we laughed together, about them. “I’ve been asked by about five different bishops about your Elmo Stoll stories,” he said. “They ask. Are these stories true? And I tell them. My brother was fifteen years old, when he saw these things. Just a young boy. Reacting to a powerful leader.” I laughed. What were their reactions? I asked. “They smiled and looked real wise,” Joseph answered. I laughed some more. I tell you, I wrote it as it was, I said. Not that you or any of them will ever agree with what I wrote. But I did. I wrote it like it was.

We visited about this and that. And soon, he told me another funny little story. He was talking to some plain Mennonite from right here in PA, recently. And the guy asked him. “Was that your brother who wrote that book?” Joseph shriveled a bit, then admitted that it was. “Well,” the plain Mennonite announced loudly. “I read it, too. And I’m sure never going to let any of my children read it.” I sat there and roared. What did you say, then? I asked. Did you agree with him? Joseph just smiled sheepishly and refused to answer, but I’m pretty sure he did. Which is totally fine. But I told him. You can’t keep your children from reading a book, once they get older. And this guy won’t be able to, either. The more he rages against my book, the more they’ll want to read it. And one day, I think they will, or at least some of them will. But hey, whatever works. If he thinks he can control them like that, more power to him.

We talked about Dad, too, and how it was going up in Aylmer. He was still in the hospital, there in Tillsonburg. The swelling had gone down, in his leg. I think they pulled him back from the edge, I said. And we talked about how close it had come. To us losing him that week. One of these days, and it won’t be long, he’s gonna leave us, I said. Joseph agreed.

Laura and her sister, Rosanna, had prepared the noon meal. And we walked over to eat. It was a haystack meal. Delicious. Corn chips. Cooked ground burger. Shredded cheese, and all the other toppings. We loaded our plates, and sat at the table to eat. Talking and laughing all the while.

And by three o’clock, our visiting was done. Joseph had an appointment somewhere, to go to. And I needed to be moving on. I wanted to get some miles behind me, before stopping for the night. Because I didn’t want that last stretch for home tomorrow to be too long.
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And last Saturday night, it came down. The Great Annual Ira Wagler Garage Party. I had invited more people than ever before. And almost all of them came. A few pulled out at the last minute, but they told me why. And that they’d love to be here next year. I lugged home fifty sausages from Stoltzfus Meats. My friend Paul grilled them over charcoal. Usually, there’s ten or a dozen left over. Not that night. After the last person had left, around midnight, there were five measly sausages in the pot. Almost, I had cut it too close.

A huge feast showed up like magic, as people arrived. Dishes of this and that. Delicious stuff, all of it. We sat around, and ate and talked. Just like usual. Around 7:30, it started drizzling. I couldn’t believe it. Rain hadn’t been in the forecast. It was supposed to be clear. But then a funny thing happened. Everyone crowded inside. The Hi-Lo card game was going on over at the bar. I hovered, keeping an eye on it. And at one point, the pot reached heights never seen before in my garage. One of these years, a SWAT team is gonna raid my party. And because we were all inside, people stood around and sat around, real close to each other. And you had to talk to the person next to you, or it would have been rude. So overall, I think, the rain actually was a good thing. It stopped, after about an hour, and the lawn chairs were soon spread in a half circle outside again.

My friend from Missouri didn’t make it like he’d promised, though. I was pretty disappointed. That’s the one thing that’ll always evoke a visceral reaction from me. If you tell me you’ll be somewhere to get together, and then you back out. I don’t know why. Must be some deep seed down there that triggers it, a seed that recoils at the slightest hint of rejection. If you tell me you’re gonna be there, be there. And if I ever figure out that you never intended to show up, if I sense that you were always just pretending, I get pretty livid. Some of my father’s rage bubbles and boils hard, down deep. Yeah, maybe I could use some counseling. But that’s just the way it is.

I contacted the friend I’d never met, the one who had promised to show up. I thought we had an understanding, I told him. I even wrote on my blog that you were coming, trucking in all the way from Missouri. Bragged about it. He was extremely apologetic. And he had a very valid reason for not showing up. He was haying. All that rain they had out there all summer, all through July, that rain kept him from cutting his crop. He needed four straight days of drying weather when the ground was bone dry. And those four magical days aligned, the very week of my party. He had to make hay when the sun shone. And I fully understood that. I come from the farm. All right, I messaged him. You’re still invited next year. I hope to see you then. But consider yourself on probation. If you don’t make it next time, I’ll have to rethink things.

Dad was released from the hospital about a week after I got home. A very different man than he was when I last saw him only a few short weeks ago. He’s bedridden, and a little befuddled in his mind. He can’t walk. At one point, and maybe even still, they had to feed him. It was too much, for my sister Rosemary to worry about, to have him back in his little house. So her oldest daughter, Eunice, and her husband David, offered to take him in and care for him. They have a row of daughters. Lots of help. And so now, there Dad is, with the family of one of his granddaughters.

And they told me a little story, from when Dad was in the hospital. One evening, as they were there with him, he saw a man across the room that slightly resembled me. And Dad took a notion in his head that it was me. So he told them. “Tell Ira to come over here. I want to talk to him. There he is. Tell him to come over.” They tried to tell him it wasn’t me. But he kept calling out my name. And he did it a time or two in his delirious states, too, when he didn’t even know what he was saying. He called out my name from where he was.

What do you do with that? Where can you take it, in your head and heart? How can you balance that out against all the pain and heartbreak and rejection of the past? I don’t know. The man’s writing days are over, I think. The thing that was dearest to his heart is gone, now. And I’m thinking that one day pretty soon, over a weekend, I’ll be driving up to see him, probably for the last time. I have a clear picture in my head of who he was, and how we spoke to each other the last time I saw him, there at Abby’s funeral. And a clear memory in my heart.

It’s a beautiful picture in my head. And it’s a beautiful memory in my heart. I’m not sure I want to ruin any of it.

I guess I’m in a strange kind of place. And I can’t really explain it. But this is how it is. If he leaves before I get there, then so be it. And if he’s there when I get there, then so be it, too.

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(15 Comments) »

  1. Lovely.

    Comment by pizzalady — August 29, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

  2. One of the Holderman preachers from the Bloomfield area is serving his missionary term down here in Pinecraft. We are good friends, and out in the streets we talk about anything. They are taking a break from down here when the Iowa corn is ready to be harvested and they plan to up there helping with the corn. After their return I hope he brings up the subject of your book.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — August 29, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

  3. So glad to read that you are enjoying the sweeter things in life; fishing, friends, wonderful food, & travel.

    It is hard to know of loved ones being hurt or battling health problems. Do know that often in those exact times true feelings of the sick are shared? Seems you are loved no matter what pride he may have that made him hide the fact from you. So hard to forgive but it can be done. Doesn’t mean that one can forget unfortunately. I live with this problem myself.

    Not sure why I felt led to write to you. Never have before. Please don’t be offended by my babbling. Anyway, I enjoy your writing/ blog and such. Just two weeks ago I moved to Northeast Fort Wayne area. New adventures everyday driving around. Nice to travel. Does the heart good.

    Comment by Mindy D Hullinger — August 29, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

  4. This line hit me hard; choked me plumb up in fact.

    “I could live here, back in the Midwest. I really could. And one day, I probably will. Thing is, I just don’t know what there is to do for a living. If I could figure that out, I’d be out there a lot sooner than later.”

    Me too Ira. Me too. My heart is there in those Missouri hills. I come alive there in ways I don’t know if I can ever explain.

    Comment by RAM — August 29, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

  5. Sounds like you had a great trip visiting family and friends. Regarding your father, in the elderly, it is not unusual for a surviving spouse to pass on within two years of the other’s death. The grief takes its toll. I believe your father has always loved you very much regardless of the past. I think that as we grow older we mellow and see things in a different light. Keep on keeping everything in your heart and always remember that you are loved.

    Comment by Rosanna F. — August 30, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  6. Hi Ira! I have always wondered when you would mention a desire to have a family. You mentioned here, that you never would have one. I see no reason why not. All you have to do is desire and prepare for it. Get started!

    We had a friend who’s wife left him to marry her psychiatrist, about 15 years ago. The friend had grown children and waited 2 years to announce to all that he was ready to be “fixed up” or introduced to any prospective ladies who were interested in him as a husband. We all introduced him to many fine ladies. He took them out to events, cooked for them, had them over to meet friends/ family, and disussed the pro’s/con’s with his closest friends. Finally, he chose a beautiful, lovely, kind, hardworking lady, who has been full of joy, and has honored him at all times. They live happily ever after, without regret.

    I would pray for the same and more, for you. The “more” includes children. I have found that children make me want to heal all strife, as I don’t want the children to experience that. I want better for them. I want others to love them, too. Just prepare for a life with a wife and children, letting it be known your desire. You want a life that they can fit into, with truth, hope, joy, protection, commeraderie, and provision. Live that life now. Make a place for a woman and children in your home. It will require sacrifice, but that is what men do so well. Go places that family men go. They all have sisters, many of whom are unmarried and perhaps the one you would love to choose.

    aside- I did not know about any unforgiveness between you and your Dad. The Bible says to forgive, and that is the way of life. We are not the judge, nor the one who punishes. We are to forgive 7 x 70, even if we do not feel like it; they do not deserve it; and/ or they do not ask for it. We are not made to carry unforgiveness. Don’t let anyone carry it, if you can help it. Leave your tithe at the alter and make amends as best you can with anyone who has anything against you.

    I so appreciate your transparency, and forgive me for acting like an old aunt at times and perhaps stepping over the line, about things that I may not even know about. Just food for thought, and I am old!

    Kathy

    Comment by Kathy Dean — August 30, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

  7. Ira, I read your blog..as I do all of your blogs..and I enjoyed it very much. The part about your Dad calling out your name and thinking it was you in the room with him when it wasn’t…you said..”What do you do with that?” I read your book and I understand, as much as I can with not being Amish, the hurt and angst you suffered.

    Because you see, my Dad also put me through terrible, horrible things when I lived at home. But when he was in a nursing home, who did he want to come? Me. Always me. I had two other sisters at that time, but he never asked for them..just me. I forgave my Dad years ago for the things he did to me and to my mother. So concerning “What do you do with that?” I say go see him ASAP.

    I know that my advice was not solicited and you may resent that I even sent this message…but I felt I needed to. My Dad never, not one time, said he was sorry or attempted to apologize to me. But that’s OK..I forgave him anyway. I spent as much time as I could with him at the nursing home…then at the hospital before he died from pneumonia. Just a few days before he died, it was just me and him in the hospital room. He could not talk…it took all his strength to just breathe….but I knew he heard me and comprehended what I said to him. His eyes were wide open and he was looking at me looking.. and he listened, really listened. I talked to him for quite awhile…telling him that he had been a good Daddy…that when I was a little girl, I thought he could do anything except maybe fly a plane..I didn’t think he could do that.

    But I poured out my heart to him without all the ugliness that could have come out of my mouth. No, he was forgiven by me, that’s for sure. So if you can do it, Ira, your Dad needs you…even if he does not know for sure that he calls for you, there is something deep inside him that needs YOU..just YOU. I hope you will go to him ASAP…I have never regretted spending that time with my Dad. And who knows, you might find it in your heart to forgive him..if you can, it will give you peace about it all. And I don’t think you will regret it either.

    Comment by Diane — August 30, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  8. Ira, you shared your heart and your burdens with us. We all have burdens that need to be shared. The one that can truly help us with our burdens and Loves to hear from us, is our Creator. I truly keep you in my prays daily. Take Care

    Comment by Warren — August 31, 2014 @ 9:52 am

  9. “Now I’ll be bold as well as strong
    And use my head alongside my heart.
    So tame my flesh and fix my eyes;
    A tethered mind freed from the lies.”
    -Mumford

    Comment by Emelda — August 31, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

  10. The call of the road started when I was a young boy growing up on the farm.Late at night in the summer, the sound of cars and the whine of big truck tires on Illinois 133 just south of us would stir something in me,a feeling of restlessness and the need to see what was out there. The horse and buggy that was used for getting around sort of put the kabosh on the childhood fantasy for a time, but the dreams didn’t go away. Many road trips later, some of them solitary, most of them with friends, ex wives, girl friends, traveling companions, family, I reflect on how fortunate I have been to live in Florida for a number of years. It was a place first visited when I was 18. I loved the West and was a visitor in my mid twenty’s, in a brand new red 1978 Trans Am that a fellow Amish buddy had just gotten. I told myself then that it would be nice to live there and it happened, Phoenix has been my home for over 26 years and it really is where my heart is at. All from a visit, a road trip. The lady in my life wants to go Vegas. A nice jaunt if it is in the red 2 seater instead of a rental, it won’t take all that long. Vegas for a couple of days around Christmastime, there is something about that that works for me. The Coast also calls, and Rocky Point, 60 miles into Mexico on the sea of Cortez, the Baja Peninsula. That has been a frequent destination over the years. Just don’t drive around at night much. The black CJ7 that sits under the carport most of its time now,the one with 276000 miles on it. If it could only talk, for it is a veteran of the road. So here is to the ode of the road trip, and may there be many more.

    Comment by lenny — September 1, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

  11. Say, Ira and Katie Troyer, I have never met a friendly Holderman person, with the exception of our cousin Ervin Stoll, whom I meet at occasional family funerals ,he will always visit a bit.

    I have always heard they are not allowed to interact at all with outsiders,unless they are possible converts. We have a crowd of them close to here, they are all that way, real unfriendly like.

    Comment by Grandpa Jess — September 1, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  12. No worries about the Dutch store offending Amish. They rarely shop there. Tourists and a few locals mostly. Maybe the next time I’m in, I’ll ask about one. Ira, it’s loud and clear your father loves and respects you. He’s crying that out in his own way. I hope you’re interpreting that. I think you are. Glad Wagstock ’14 went well. Next year you might want to expand the venue. .. mudslides and tents? HA.

    Comment by Lisa DeYoung — September 2, 2014 @ 2:51 am

  13. Good reading, as always. Sorry to hear about your father’s illness.

    We just came back from Ohio, where we bought a sweet little dog from an Amish family. We always buy eggs from them and saw a mother dog last time we were there, in July. Asked if there were any puppies. There were, and they would be willing to part with one. So now we have “Dilly.”

    Comment by cynthia r chase — September 5, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

  14. Our father went “home” in 2012. When his health spiraled, I lived almost two hours away. I was fortunate at the time to be in a position to travel back and forth, and stay over sometimes (to help my sister and her husband) over the next month. It’s hard on the caretakers and they don’t usually ask for the help and support they need.

    You may find you’re grateful for the time spent at your father’s bedside and be surprised by the broken places that reconnect, just by sitting there in that place (that sometimes felt church-like.)

    My father was severely drugged one day, and my sister said, “Wow, Margaret, you were the main character in every one of Dad’s hallucinations!” In his lucid moments, we had more than one meaningful conversation that I hope brought him comfort in his last hours. When he passed, those of us who lived in the region were all present, and it felt to me like we’d walked him to heaven’s gate.

    Comment by Margaret — September 8, 2014 @ 8:31 am

  15. I love the Midwest and always will. Of course, I’m partial to Michigan. The men in my family were hunters and fishers. I learned to gut a fish when I was pretty young and saw nothing gruesome about a buck being draped over the roof of a truck. That’s just how it was. Red checked flannel, wood stoves, unpaved roads, the smell of pine, scurrying chipmunks, lakes at every turn…I love the Midwest.
    What does one do in the Midwest? I guess whatever they put their put mind to.

    Road trips are awesome especially when you’ve got good music or interesting talk radio to listen to. My boys and I love our trips to TN to see Grandma. Once we’re about an hour into Indiana things start looking farmy. I love it. All of it; crops, horses, cows, barns, sky. It’s calming and serene. There is a lot of natural beauty in America.

    So sorry to hear about your father. I think he’s aching for his wife. And I expect he’s just plain tired.

    The Amish culture offers a stellar example of care for their elderly. Our society should look to them for guidance.

    Comment by Francine — September 11, 2014 @ 1:23 am

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