Originally posted Feb 8, 2005
Just coming off a whirlwind visit: Beki and Howland came South for a weekend, bringing with them 50+ degree (farenheit) weather. Diane remarked that Spring had come early, and then grimaced, realizing that it was only early February. ... hehehe (sung: "I'm Mr. ColdMiser; I'm Mr. Snow!" ... How Come Every Word In That Song Is Capitalized?).
The visit: it was pretty much an non-contemplative affair from the moment Beki and Howland deplaned ... okay they did have an hour's worth of meditation time at the airport, as they arrived at 10:15 pm, and I was sound asleep, coming off a 34-hour work day (whoops! Sorry, Beki and Howland!). Saturday it was: Starbucks for breakfast, then I went off to sing a requiem for one of our choir members (15 children, 51 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren -- the Liturgy and music were all in Latin and our cantor, Adina, sang "In paradiso" so beautifully), then Pho for lunch, then le Matin de Paris (a Korean bakery/cafe (I'm not joking)), then Diane and I went to confession while Beki and Howland watched the kids (Thanks!) and when shopping at Kam Sen (the Chinese grocery) -- Elena Marie decided her happiness depended on some rice crackers, and Beki obligingly bought them for her. Pizza and leftovers for supper, then I fell sound asleep again (it being 8 pm, and all) while Beki visited with her friend Sarah.
Sunday: Dance-dance revolution exercise early morning for me and then Mass for us, yoga for Beki. We missed the 9 am Mass, so we met Howland at Starbucks for some breakfast and then we hopped off to the 10:30 Mass where I sang in the choir (the choir director stopped me after Mass to extract a promise from me that I would sing for Holy Week -- I've stopped singing during Ordinary time to help manage the kiddies, who can get rather antsie during the homily (so I went down to the pews to help Diane manage the sweet li'l bundles of (very energetic) joy during the sermon -- Adina mentioned: "You're a real Papa; you've managed to be in two places at once!"). Off to one of our neighbor's children's birthday parties (Michael, born a few months after Elena Marie). It was a small affair: only 4 families in the playgroup in which we participate (the mother, Jennifer McCabe, started the playgroup), so I felt honored to attend. Because of the delay from Mass, we showed up (fashionably) late. As we made our entrance, everyone greeted us, which caused Elena Marie to disappear, becoming my perfect shadow. I gave her some wise comfort: "Don't worry, Elena: everyone's looking at you." As you can guess, this helped quite a bit -- Elena went *shrink* *shrink* *Shrink*!
After that party (the father, Matt, made the train-engine cake himself!), Mike Wuerthele called and "invited" us over for a visit, so Beki, Howland, and I walked over, transporting EM and Isabel in the sport tandem stroller. As it was the children's naptime, they fell asleep on the way, and slept throughout the visit, and most of the way home.
Time for supper: we went to the Afgan Kabob place I "discovered" (I've gone there since it opened and have brought not a few other customers to their doors), where we enjoyed chicken and lamb kabobs with the wide and long flat Afgan bread. Yummy!
Time to send Beki and Howland back home! Yikes! The visit's over already? Elena Marie and I brought Beki and Howland to the airport, and Elena was quite the chatty one on the way. Beki and Howland went on their way, and, as I was closing the trunk, I heard the strangest sound coming from the car: a whining, sobbing sound.
Poor Elena Marie was crying deep, heart-felt sobs of grief in the face of losing her dear, dear Auntie Beki and Uncle Howland. I almost ran into the airport to ask Beki and Howland to say goodbye one more time to the poor baby, but then I guessed that prolonging the goodbye would prolong Elena's grief. I drove off, instead, assuring my crying daughter that Beki and Howland would visit again, or that we would visit them.
She continued to cry all the way home, and I echoed her sobs on the inside as my heart hurt at my little girl's sorrow.
When we arrived back home, she fell fast asleep next to her mother. The next morning, I was awake early to exercise, and she woke up and ran to me, crying ... see, she usually sleeps in her own room (which she proudly took possession of a month ago: "Stay out, Papa, this is MY room and this is MY bed!" You couldn't find anyone happier!), but when she wakes up in the morning (sometimes in the very early morning, ya know, 2 am) she looks for her mama and cries when not seeing her immediately. So, this morning, she ran out of our room, looking for her mother in another room, and became disorientated.
I grabbed her and hugged her for a while, and then a little peep from my shoulder queried: "Papa, can I take your picture?"
She had seen our camera, and after she took a picture of me standing by the coat hangar in my pag-bahay (around the house clothes), everything was right in the world again: we looked around for breakfast foods, we put on a pert shirt and pink pants, and then Mama and baby Isabel came along for the morning activities.
Now, I'm finishing up some reports for a conference I'll be attending for the next three days, hoping this week goes quickly, because it's going to be a great deal of hard work at the conference, with the promise of much more hard work following it.
So, Beki and Howland, thank you for giving me a break from this work, so as to create and to share these wonderful family stories.