As our young family grew Rick and I tried to instill certain ideas in our children’s heads. Simple things like: your father can fix anything; your mother makes the best cookies in the world; and if your mother is cold, you will put on a sweater to name the top ones. Along the way our four children decided that Dad and Mom can do anything. That felt pretty good as inexperienced parents, but this summer we learned “Be careful what you wish for.” Yes, we were called out on it. Let me back up the truck just a bit.
|Family below the infamous canopy|
Adam, the youngest of the four, came to us eighteen months ago. “Alia and I would like to get married on the Shane farm and have the reception in the barn on July 13, 2013.”
“An outdoor wedding; in mid-July; in Iowa; in the barn. Sure, why not,” we agreed with apprehensive smiles. One year later in June Adam arrived from North Carolina to help prepare for the big day. To say he, Rick and many others, spent a month of hard work would be an understatement. Many family members, extended ones as well, rallied around him as they cleaned out the century old barn to create a suitable space for our guests. Stairs and railings were built and the old timbers were power washed from the peak to the floor. The pasture was transformed to resemble a park set in a cornfield. “Can you make a canopy to cover the seating area of the pasture,” Adam asked “to protect our guests from the sun?” And our “we can do anything” philosophy came back and bit us in the backside. Too many hours to count later, Rick had transformed a pile of rusty pipes into a gleaming, white structure and I had four hundred yards of organza stitched into a ninety-foot by thirty foot canopy. I had also stitched a forty-five by fifteen foot drapery for the barn door.
|2013 - not 1930 Alia, Adam, Rick and I|
“And, oh yeah, it’s a theme wedding,” Adam informed us. “Come in vintage clothing. We want to look as if we just stepped out of the 1930’s.” The challenge was on. I scoured the internet and found the style of dress I wanted to wear. No pattern was available. Yeah, I know what a shocker. So I learned a skill I had always desired: create my own pattern. Grandma Kremer would have been pleased. My dress turned out just like the picture. Trela, Eric’s wife, decorated my coordinating hat. I used my new knowledge to create the lavender silk lining for Alia’s cobalt blue vintage lace dress. Our newest family member was radiant as her parents escorted her along the grassy path. Adam was waiting and together the two pledged their lives to each other. The sky was overcast; the drizzle stopped just in time as the guests arrived. We had a slight breeze to cool the eighty degrees temperature. The barn resembled an elegant hall and the food was delicious. It was nearly a perfect day. Only nearly, you might ask. Yes, space dictated the number of guests and we were unable to share the joy of the day with everyone in our life. We had to limit the guest list to two hundred. And with two dozen siblings between Rick and me, some difficult decisions had to be made. Rick chose to shower, put on clean clothes and come, but not until the guests began to arrive.
Eric stays busy as a chiropractor. He splits his time between his clinics in Jesup and Waterloo. Summit Chiropractic Centers now has two doctors and a physical therapist. I have gotten to know Dan, the physical therapist, quite well this fall. And yes, it has helped my back and feet. J Trela continues to teach middle school in Waterloo, this year in a new position. She works with talented and gifted students, which meant more classes at UNI for that endorsement. Kile, age ten, loves math, running and Minecraft (a video game.) He has reached the age of no kisses, only hugs, but never in public. I’m okay with getting them at home ‘cause he loves to squeeze the stuffin’ out of me. At the local town celebration, Farmers Day, he won his division in the 5K. He’s pretty modest about it, even though he beat his dad’s time. Cavanaugh, age seven, loves to create. She excels at messes, but does well with a sewing machine, or paper and pencil. We enjoy stitching up projects during her visits. She just shared her clothing designs she drew for her club of kindness friends at school. She knows how to grab my heart.
Dean continues to work as a systems manager for Casey’s General Stores. All those years he explored (crashed) our computers has paid off for him. He now asks for dress shirts and ties for work. Meg, employed by the State of Iowa, enjoys her job, most days anyway. We are happy for them, having a job you like with reasonable hours, is a good thing. Lauren, age six, felt grown up as she left little girl ways behind and went to first grade. Learning to read, helping bake cookies with Mom, and dance lessons fill her time. She loves it when I play the guitar and sing with her. I hope she doesn’t hear a professional guitarist or develop a pitch perfect ear for a long time.
Kathy took a job at a preschool in Des Moines this spring. She must be gifted because she can be firm with the kids and they still love her. Her apartment is five minutes away from work. She has a knack for acclimating to her new surroundings quickly. She joined a parish and immersed herself in activities and friends. She is preparing for a weekend retreat at the parish next spring.
Adam and Alia joined as one as I mentioned earlier. Adam continues work on his dissertation and Alia works at the rare books library at UNC and also takes classes. They spent their honeymoon in Italy. I am sure glad Adam found a gal who agreed to go there. For years he stated he was going to Italy for his post wedding trip and he hoped his wife would want to go. I wonder how Alia feels about three sets of triplets in three years, all boys, with two lefties? (That’s a throw back from Christmas letters in the past, in case you don’t remember Adam wished for that as a teenager. He wanted his own baseball team.)
Rick stays active in community activities and farming. I still stitch and print designs for customers, but not as much as past years. I continue to write, getting published in Chicken Soup for the Soul book series twice this fall. I did a happy dance all around the house when I found out. J Rick and I managed a couple of get away trips. We drove to Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina in February, spending time friends and family along the way. In August we spent fourteen days exploring Alaska with three other couples. We rented two thirty foot RV’s and saw Alaska our way. Of course, the scenery was spectacular, the weather was nearly perfect, but my favorite memory will be the helicopter ride to the glacier. We spent ninety minutes up there at a dog sled training camp. Riding behind a musher around on the icy landscape behind the team of dogs was a thrill I’ll not soon forget. In between it all our kitchen was remodeled. Thanks, John. We are ready for our families and friends to share it with us.
As this year comes to a close, we are thankful you are part of our lives. We pray that this season of joy brings love, happiness and peace in your heart today and always.