happy sad

This kind of sadness is unrelated to the sadness we feel in the loss of our daughter. That sadness will ebb and flow as time passes but it will not go away. My sadness today is colored with happiness because I’ve been blessed with a visit from all three of my Carlson children at the same time! Records show it’s been ten years since they all came to Oregon to help me celebrate my 60th birthday. It isn’t as though we haven’t been together, it’s just that one son in particular (that would be Ben) needs a really good reason to come this way. Now that two siblings live in Arizona, he goes there for the holidays. Imagine a Michigander choosing Arizona over Oregon in the dead of winter!

Given this phenomena, I was exceedingly happy that I could enjoy a house full of “out-of-town” guests last weekend. We have abundant guest space, so housing seven extra adult-sized people comfortably was not very difficult, although it took converting the studio into a dorm for the Anderson kids. They offered to rent cars; I said yes! They offered to rent motel rooms; I said NO WAY! I wanted everybody under one roof! Mama usually gets what she wants, right?

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I used my reunion birthday party blue-and-white flags (instead of the original flags) to welcome each arrival.

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First came Taylor, without Beth. (Pregnancy problems prevented her from coming, but she encouraged T to come anyway.) A quick lunch stop at Ye Olde Pizza, still a fav after all these years.

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Killing a little time entertaining the dog.

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Picnic in the park with the local fam.

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Would it be a picnic without fried chicken?

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A walk to Jem 100 for cones.

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Urban son John Williams makes his way in our small town.

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The walking part beat the ice cream part in my view.

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Taylor getting ready to be a dad.

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The next day Ben arrived and that evening all of the Andersons. My heart skips a beat.

Bailey’s red shirt was purchased and worn for this arrival for my benefit. Bailey has never liked ketchup and has endured my constant pokes about that for as long as I’ve known him. At In ’n’ Out Burger, for example, I will load him up with ketchup packets. Haha. Thanks, Gus. Haha. I won’t be stopping any time soon, I don’t suppose.

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Not to deprive the new arrivals of a walk to Jem 100 for ice cream cones, we stop off to listen for the Cooper’s hawk family in the trees.

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Gum leads the way home via alleys he’s ridden for his many years as a Newberger. He shares the sights along the way. Missed his calling as a tour guide.

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A bonus waited for us at Memorial Park a block from home. John and Erin, Sage and Brynn! Those little girls are climbers, while John “spots” them from above. Hmmm. How does that work?

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Cassidy sat with me in the semi-dark living room and talked about everything under the sun. Here she’s finding the Pinterest pictures on her iPod that inspired her party plans for birthday number 12, coming up in a month. Twelve!

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After we joined the others in the cookin’ room, Marissa and I entertained ourselves doing handfuls.

All of the above was the prelude to the events that brought the Carlson side of the family to Newberg. What follows is the postlude.

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At Beth’s encouragement, Taylor stuck it out, even after learning she had been hospitalized for observation. (The scare has now passed, but she and the baby are still being closely monitored. He is just over 4 lbs and needs to fatten up a bit.) So one more lunch at Ye Olde before heading out.

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He was the first to be white-hanky farewelled.

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Mixed grill.

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Backyard pick-up soccer game. I think they need a bigger field.

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Rachel’s friend Sally gave John photocopies of some letters Rachel wrote when they were in high school. John read them to us. A hoot!

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It wouldn’t be a family gathering without a couple of hacks.

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More white hanky waving as another Carlson heads to the airport. I guess you have to take my word for it.

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Ahh. Dishes washed and put away, chairs returned, no need for language. Only a bowl of Scrabble letters, a table, and the comfort of dearly loved people to create this idyllic scene. Well, that and a K in my handful to make the word AARDVARK.

That might have been the perfect finale, but the Andersons still had one more day in Oregon.

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Here we are, together again around a different table. John invited us to tour the Nike World Headquarters, where he works. So we started out with a lovely lunch in one of their dining facilities. The air temp had dropped to the 70s, and the Arizonians were freezing.

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The main event was a chance to climb Nike’s state-of-the-art rock wall. This is Bailey.

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Cassidy, with John as her belayer

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and John. They all made it to the top, yet those of us cheering from the ground were the ones who complained of aching necks. I can only imagine how the climbers felt the next day.

After a bit of shopping at the Nike employee store it was time for Mauri and me to head back to Newberg. We said our goodbyes, Quinn squeezing me more tightly than usual and whispering “you did a good job” in my ear, trying hard not to cry, not to make a scene. They could see I had my white hanky tucked tightly in my hand, ready to show but not wave. The last thing I’d want would be to embarrass my middle-school- and high-school- and college-aged grandkids in the middle of the Nike employee store. So we finished our goodbyes and Mauri and I turned to leave the store. In a moment Mauri stopped me, “Marvel, turn around; you don’t want to miss this.” All five Andersons were waving white T-shirts wildly in the air.

– – – – –

I get attached when we’re together and miss them when they leave. I use putting the house back together as the buffer.

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Washing and ceremonially folding the towels and sheets just so has benediction qualities for me. I don’t want anyone else to do it.

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This room holds the head and footboard that Mauri and Margaret-Rose bought as newlyweds. A tall person must sleep diagonally and his wife would find her spot in the corner, making room for the dog and the cat as well. Let’s just say I am happy with our California king, OK?

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Taylor had to make his own bed, and now the sheets are washed and folded for our next guest. That’s the kind of host I am. As I try to smooth the pillowcases, I’m reminded of the time as a 21-year-old newlywed I was making our bed after a long day of work. I asked my new husband, Paul, “Do you care if I don’t iron the pillowcases?” “Oh,” he said, “do you iron the pillowcases?” From that day to this, we sleep on wrinkled pillowcases and no one even thinks to complain.

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All reset, order restored. What makes this accomplishment so satisfying?

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6 Responses to happy sad

  1. Aneta Hullinger says:

    God’s truly gifted you with your writing. It is always such a joy to read about your visits. So glad you had time with them all. I’m sure it was great for Mauri to have them for Rachael’s service. We continue to pray for Beth and baby that he gains weight and that she doesn’t have any more problems. I’m sure they are as excited as you all for a little baby Carlson. It won’t be long.
    Hugs sweet cousin.

  2. Marcile says:

    Again you have been able to share deep joy of family that brings our own memories. I wonder if some of the balm for saying good-by that comes from the washing, folding and putting away of sheets and towels is because those things have intimately touched the bodies of folks we love.
    And for a few more hours it prolongs the feeling of their presence.

  3. Ridgely says:

    What a blessing! A hard, hard reason for the gathering, but Rachel would have been all for it. Love the pics of the lovely “cottage” you have created for guests…and we have been the beneficiaries of your generous hospitality for so many years. And that bathroom…all my fav colors! xxoo

  4. Bev Chapman says:

    My sentiments exactly as two of our three children and families were here in June for two weeks. Loved that time together with them, making memories, meals together, playing games, talking and loving on one another. Special times. And cleaning the house, putting it back together is a buffer for the sad time I had after they left. Truly makes a mom happy to have the children under the roof. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Gerald Lemmons says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sherry. Your article brought back many fond memories of family time.

  6. Joe and Myra says:

    You are a joy to get to know through your writings. What fun for your family.

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