Pella, Iowa is really not ‘close’ to Ohio (500 miles)…but it SEEMS amazing closer in comparison to the 2400 miles that separate my beloved Seattle home and the home of my youth in west central Ohio.
The show ended in Pella and we packed up and loaded the car in the rain…a spectacular lightning storm soon followed…we oohed and ahhed…Shawn drove the first half of the trip…I tried to sleep…but like a little kid on Christmas Eve my trying was in vain. I WAS GOING HOME! By the time I took over driving a hundred miles from the border of Indiana, I was postively giddy with delight. Shawn was also trying to sleep and also trying in vain, although due more to discomfort than excitement.
(Really quick props to the hub-unit: We had planned on taking our two days off in Chicago, shopping and searching for good sushi, but when I begged (and I do mean begged) to go instead to the fam and the small town and the cornfields, he agreed with a smile. Take notes, men)
So we arrived at my parents’ house and spent two and a half glorious days with my mom and four of my brothers. (My other brother, Aaron, my dad, and my sister Beth are currently in India!) Thought I would pass on some of the highlights…
Little kids change so much in a few months! It had been January since I had seen the two youngest members of the Adelsberger clan… Joe (4) greeted us in the living room with a shy gesture (fist in mouth). He was wearing his Shrek underpants and a home-made white t-shirt. His impossibly brown eyes looked deeper. I couldn’t quit staring at his legs…so long and thin…’those are little boy legs’, I thought to myself…the baby chub has been played off and they were umistakably the legs of a little boy. His face was thinner…his head seemed to fit his tall body…his baby and even his toddler proportions had given way to boydom. Bubby came busting into the room like the tazmanian devil…and at two, that description fits him well. In just a diaper, I could see that he remained the chubby toddler we had last seen. He jumped at us and giggled. His cheeks looked firmer and less like a baby, but they were still as round as ever.
There is something amazing about being around children and what it does to you…how it makes the simple things seem adventurous and how your imagination grows to accomodate theirs. I watched that whole first afternoon as they played… even their playing had changed..now rather than just banging trucks on the kitchen floor, there was role playing. I was the patient of these ‘docers’ and they cut and sewed me up. Bubby performed surgery with a diaper on his head. I could only see his green eyes where the leg hole was. He informed me it was his ‘maks’. We read books. They finished each line with me. When we got to the part about the ‘terrible monsters’ and their ‘terrible claws’, the two boys lowered their voices and growled. Don’t you love the book “Where the wild things are”?
We played baseball (complete with a bat, baseball cap, gloves and helmet). We played soccer. (shawn fished 9 of them out of the bushes where the ornery little burgers had taking to throwing them.) We bounced the basketball. We threw the football just ot hear Joe exclaim “touchdown!”. They road their bikes and sometimes we road on the back.
We drove into town to get ice cream…Shawn and I giggled as Joe tried to lick around his cone, but got bored and ended up with most of it melted onto his hands. Bubby dove into his ‘chockit’ cone and Shawn had to pry the last little bit out of his hands.
Joe and Shawn got into the hot tub, Bubby was scared and with a little chiding for his older brothers, decided he wasn’t the baby and wanted to get in. A brave Shawn held onto his little naked butt in the ‘big bath tub’, which eventually he warmed up to. ‘Taty its FUN!’ he kept telling me. All four of my brothers (Matt (18), Ben (15) and the little ones) joined into the fort making, led by the ring-leader..none other than my sweet hubby. The couches were turned over, the coffee tables used as reinforcing walls…all of the pillows and blankets in the house had a place in the fort. It took quite awhile. Mom and I got periodic updates from Bubby…we could hear his fat little footsteps racing up from the basement. “Mommy! Cage!” He would yell and giggle, run over for a hug, and then back to the basement. When it was finished, Mom and I visited and I crawled through a couple of times. It was a mansion of forts (or caves, according to the little ones) with several rooms and lots of nooks and crannies they could fit into. One room had a blanket with stars on it as the roof. Shawn said he and Joe laid there and talked about the moon. Joe loves the moon.
Joe told me about all his buddies from church and his class and his coloring projects. He and Bub have decided they want to be policemen and pastors when they grow up. I can’t stop squeezing them and kissing them. Joe and I talked about when he was a baby…he loves to remember the stories of him spending weekends with me when I was in college. I tell him the story about how I first brought him to meet ‘mommy and daddy’ and he smiles the kind of smile that could melt Hitler. He wants to know about Bubby, so I tell him the story of how he brought Bubby to us and he says “ohhh” they way adults do when something sweet happens. I tell him about the time he puked down my shirt at church and he giggles. We look at pictures of him as a baby and Bubby kisses each page in an effort to shed his ornery skin and join in the sweetness. We took a walk and mom said ‘whose my beautiful little brown boy?’ Joe’s coy smile reappears and his shyly says, ‘me’. ‘And whose my curly top?’ Bubby barely waits for her to finish before yelling, ‘ME!’ and jumping up and down. We walk to the playground and swing and on te way home we stopped to see the baby piggies.
My brother Matt and I sat on the couch and talked. Matt will never drive or live in his own apartment or go to college. Matt is 18 and while other teenagers on making those kind of decisions, he’s coming to grips with his life. He smiles as he tells be about his Narnia xbox game and I try to enter into his world. I try to be excited about xbox. I try to make out every word he speaks, and ask him to repeat when his mishapen mouth muddles his words. Sometimes he repeats it until I get it, sometimes he says with exasperation ‘nevermind’, sometimes I just pretend. Sadness came into my heart as he told me “can’t go to college, too hard’. Somehow a few minutes later, the conversation shifted. Matt was talking about heaven and wondering what it will be like. We wondered out loud together for a few moments before Matt said, “everything free in heaven?” I chuckled, knowing his line of thinking. Matt always wants to newest gadget and Mom is forever telling him that things cost money and he has to save for them. You can tell that a cell phone is a couple hundred bucks and then fifty dollars a month and Matt will come back from his room with a jar full of pennies and can’t understand why its not enough. Money is a frustrating thing to us all, but for a different reason to Matt. “Yeah everything is going to be free, Matt” He smiled and sighed a sigh of relief, “Good. I am sick of rules!” He threw his lenglthy, gangly arms into the air and we both laughed.
I can’t believe how huge Ben is…tall and muscular and sporting a brown-as-a-bear tan from days of mowing and playing soccer. Joe has gone from toddler to little boy and Ben from boy to man. He has a little girlfriend and is learning to drive and knows almost everything, as teenagers do. Ben has always fashioned himself after Aaron, our 23 year old brother, who is cool and athletic and fashionable. I can see what a good understudy he has been. He doesn’t jump on Shawn like the little boys or hit him repeatively on the shoulder like Matt, but he wants to get his attention none the less. On Monday the two of them (BEn and Shawn) decided to take a kayak trip. I drove them to Aunt Deb’s house to get kayaks and they entered the river there. They were gone fro hours and when they returned, Shawn’s face and shirt were covered with blood. Ben tried to convince me he had punched Shawn, but he smile on his face gave him away. Turns out while they were bungee cording the kayaks to the roof of the SUV, the cord broke and smacked Shawn in the nose. They described this in detail. Shawn said it hit him so hard he couldn’t see at first and that blood was gushing out. “I probably broke it” Shawn said. They stood proudly before me. Battle scars.
While the little boys napped and the bigger boys amused themselves Mom and I laid on her bed and talked. We caught up on family news and shared our hearts and wondered about things and hoped and talked about struggle and shared what God has been speaking. Her bed has always been the scene of some great mother-daughter conversations. I love the smell of laundry that comes from the room beside hers, where laundry is always being done. I love looking out the window and seeing the flowers she has planted and the woods that we have loved.
The morning we left, she said “I can’t believe you are not going to be here when I get up tomorrow morning.” I kind of couldn’t either.
And although I am a ‘grown up’ now and these days don’t last, there is something amazingly theraputic about that sense of home and family. So if you are having a bad day/week/month/year/life (as I once told my sister) than find that place of home and just revel in it…and if you have enogh time, fly a kite..or a ‘tite’ as Joe says..elmo ones are the best.