Yo, we’re back.
(We only spent three days in Philadelphia, but picking up an accent doesn’t take long when it’s your native one.) Anyway, to take things in order:
Our first stop was supposed to be Ted’s hometown, where we would stay with his parents and celebrate his grandparents’ sixtieth anniversary at his aunt’s house nearby. It didn’t quite work out that way; his grandmother didn’t make it to her anniversary. So instead, Ted’s mom picked us up at the airport and the next morning we all drove out to join his dad at the grandparents’, in their tiny town way out in the Oregon high desert. It was one of those things, good and bad and laughter and tears, just the sort of way life and death are. Because the anniversary celebration had been planned for that week, most of the people who loved her were able to visit her one last time, and she was responsive enough that we know she knew we were there. A few more who missed the chance to visit made it to the memorial service; Ted and I had to miss it, unfortunately, but I suspect half the town was there. (The service director asked the family to write some memories about her. We don’t know if they used them in the service, but what we wrote is here, one entry down.) If we had to miss something, though, we were glad to have been there earlier to support Ted’s parents; it was hard on them to lose both their mothers so close together.
One thing that came up during conversation is how much Ted’s family enjoys some of the comments to this blog, particularly Squirrel’s Dutch point of view on our entries here. (So keep those cards and letters coming, kids.) I didn’t take a lot of pictures there, not wanting to be intrusive, but here’s one I like, of Ted’s grandpa in his home terrain, walking with his mom (I mean, Ted’s mom, obviously).
We also got acquainted with two cousins of the next generation we hadn’t met before, aged 7 years and 10 months respectively. I think the 7-year-old was quite disappointed to learn that Ted was already spoken for – he seems to be irresistible to women of a certain (single-digit) age.
We had to leave because the main reason we’d planned the visit this summer was t spend time with Ted’s other grandfather as he adjusts to life on his own. We had a good visit there; plenty of time to hang out and talk, and we also got to see an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, with models made to his drawings (It’s a traveling exhibition, well worth seeing if it’s near you.) as well as the UC Davis Arboretum. That stop on the trip also featured a chance to see some more relatives and to make some excellent steaks part of the baggage we carried back to the Netherlands – internal baggage, of course, so no issues with customs or refrigeration!
Finally we visited Philadelphia, where I informed my parents that everyone had better be in good health! They’d discussed the idea of going, as we say, down the shore (which is how Philadelphians refer to visiting the beaches in southern New Jersey) to Atlantic City for a day, but with so much zipping back and forth on this trip, we opted to stay put for a bit. We got to go out for our last US steak (Ted) and burger (me) for some time. We also got to visit some old friends of mine, to celebrate birthdays: one impending, one for someone who’s had a few more birthday parties to practice on. Here’s the blanket I made for the former, with her mom-to-be is holding it for her:
The trip back was remarkably fast, which only meant we got to Amsterdam before 5 AM. The jet-stream must have been cooperating. Unfortunately, it’s not in league with the rental car desks, so we had to wait 20 minutes or so until they opened. Ted was smart enough to plan for us to take today off, so we’ve used it to get his Dutch driver’s license and get mine applied for (apparently his went through one he got the capability form approved; mine was lagging because it took longer to get my sofi number) and to restock our refrigerator (when one this small gets empty, you really have nothing to eat). We’ll be back at work tomorrow, though I make no guarantees as to whether we’ll have any useful cognitive capacity.