Traveling post employment means I no longer need to carry a computer. Since it and I have been joined at the hip for so many years, I anticipated a bit of separation anxiety. To combat the potential symptoms I bought an iPad and got it set up with all the apps I might need. I practiced blogging because of course I’d want to keep you informed of my every move.
Turned out I took plenty of pictures along the way but then used my occasional spare moments to, well, enjoy the moment.
You’ll be happy to know I’ve pared down my photos to the cream of the crop to give you but a taste of my nearly-two-week adventure.
As we taxied for take-off at PDX I snapped this quick look at Mount Hood. I couldn’t have guessed I’d end up with this fun match-up as we taxied to our gate at the Denver airport. I took the Denver shot to show the absence of snow from blizzard conditions only days earlier, making me fear I’d miss my connection to Grand Rapids. But both flights arrived early!
Ben’s birthday events began with a Sunday lunch with these close friends. It was my first time to meet each one. You will see Ben had opened the book I made for him.
Even more fun than watching Ben look through the book was watching his friends see a little bit (OK, a lot!) of Ben’s history and family.
Man of 50 years! I couldn’t be more proud of him.
When in Michigan I try not to miss an opportunity to see these dear sisters, Ange and Ev. We have much history together, and they traveled out here to Oregon for a visit in my early years as a Macy. Now in their mid-90s, their collective spunk puts me to shame. Ange, in blue, upped her goal to celebrate her 100th birthday in five years. I have no doubt she’ll make it!
They care dearly for each other, and I join the love fest!
Only a few blocks from Ange’s home is Ben’s workplace. He’s worked for this company for going on 25 years, though it was Prince back then, bought by Johnson Controls, and recently by Yanfeng.
He offices in this exceptional facility.
He introduced me to several of his work team. His new position is “director of strategy for North America,” a promotion from . . . who can keep track?
Did I mention how proud I am of this man?
Joe and Rosemary defy description. Be sure: they are a force, and spending an evening with them and their youngest-of-three-sons, Seth, will stand out for a long time. Every page of the book from Ben’s high-school+ years brought on wild stories and fits of laughter.
Longtime friends are the best, made even better when they are actually friends of your children and claim you as a friend too.
Some day I hope to meet the girl who wins the heart of this 15-year-old. A gem!
Another dear friend met me for a Starbuck’s date and conversation. Nancy oversees group homes for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. I met her from my work with the yearbook class at Grace Bible College, but we soon became friends. She is credited for the many candid photos she took (on film!) at Paul’s memorial service and Mauri’s/my wedding events. Now wise beyond her years, she slipped me some helpful advice relating to some decisions I’m making. I waved farewell with “WOW” smeared all over my face.
Ben chose this old family favorite for his birthday celebration. Don’t worry, it’s really just a Mexican-food restaurant that, yes, serves alcohol.
Ben got there early enough to get us a table for 10. I showed up soonafter and recruited him to hang the blue and white celebratory flags.
Bless him, he didn’t act the least bit embarrassed by all my traditional wishes.
After all, Carlsons have been stringing blue and white flags since the time Paul bought a set at a garage sale and put them out for every celebration. What I wouldn’t give to offer him a momentary glimpse of this photo, his son half a life older than his final photo taken with Ben (as it happens, at Joe and Rosemary’s wedding).
I think it was Shannon, front left, who gave his camera to the server for these two table shots.
I finally got to meet Linda, Ben’s “other” mom, who invites him to join her and her two sons (to her left) for holiday meals. Bless her heart!
I think it was Shannon’s camera because he posted the two group pictures on Facebook along with a video of me singing the family birthday song to my boy Ben. And Ben received all the attention like a champ, along with the many accolades of his personhood, which his mom soaked up as though she had some part in it.
Happy birthday, Bentley! I couldn’t love you more!