So, to go way back to November 26, incidentally my dad's 97th birthday, which he spent in the hospital with his third bladder blockage but recovered from ok...that was the day Amanda arrived.
And the next day Nevin arrived.
Yes, after waiting for years while my children's friends and cousins obligingly grew up, dated, married, and had babies, in which I kept busy with praying, making mental lists, hand-wringing, and the occasional nudge or caution, two of my children, Amy and Ben, are dating.
Or maybe courting. We don't try to fit any particular mold or model here, but suffice it to say that Ben is pursuing a young woman in a determined and Christian manner, and Amy is likewise being pursued by a young man, and things had come to the point where it was time for them to come to the Smuckers for a holiday.
Matt flew in from DC for the occasion, but Emily wasn't able to work it out to come home from SMBI, so she was the only one missing, which was very sad.
But, oh, what detailed preparations beforehand, what excitement, what lists, what baking, what scrubbing of bathrooms, what buying of name-brand breakfast cereal, what hauling of embarrassing excess belongings out of the back hallway, what stuffing of them into the unused playhouse outside!
Not wanting awkward early-morning collisions while going to and from our small upstairs bathroom via a narrow hallway, I had my generous friend and next-door neighbor, Anita, over for tea and she agreed to keep all the guys at her house for the duration so the girls could have the upstairs to themselves.
The guests were here for about a week. Wednesday evening we had our big Thanksgiving dinner, and from Thursday to Saturday we were out at the coast in a cozy rented house a short walk from the beach. The weather, in answer to Jenny's prayers, was warm and calm, and the days were full of hiking up mountains, walking on the beach, eating, games, and much discussion.
|Amanda & Ben in an ice cream shop|
|I thought this should be Amy & Nevin's official Facebook photo|
|Well, maybe this would work better.|
Which brings me to a very new angle of this very new phase. My children are used to being written about. Sometimes they read what I write and often they don't. They are very blase about it all. I have a pretty good feel for what's ok to say and what isn't, and if I write something that's not ok, they tell me, and I do a quick edit. Or I pay a bribe.
I do not have this easy relationship with the significant others, so I find my head full of stories and my writing process going like this:
Oh, it was so interesting how this all came about. . . but I guess that's not for public consumption.
The first day or so. . . oh wait, better not go there.
It was so funny when. . . oops, better not go there either.
I was so impressed by . . . hmmm, probably shouldn't say that.
But then Jenny insisted that. . . oh, never mind.
But when I told Emily about it on the phone, she figured that . . . never mind that either.
I will say this: Amanda and Nevin are both astonishingly nice, Godly, kind, smart, helpful, hardworking, responsible, mature, and a list of other adjectives as well.
And I can't tell you how blessed that makes me feel.
Resting in the shelter after the hike up Cape Perpetua: Jenny, Matt, Nevin, Amy, Amanda, Ben, and Steven
Despite the newness of our interactions, the time was surprisingly fun and relaxed, thanks to the admirable adaptability of the visitors. Amanda worked with me in the kitchen a lot, especially on Wednesday, making Thanksgiving dinner while Ben still had classes, and she slipped into the role like she had done it for years.
Matt left for the airport early on Saturday morning and we came home from the coast later in the day. While Jenny and Steven and I put coolers and leftovers away, the two couples went off by themselves for the evening, away--no doubt to their vast relief--from watchful parents and teenage siblings who always seemed to be everywhere at once.
On the beach, Paul demonstrated to the young people that you can still be romantic this far into the story.
|Hiking on the slick rocks at Alsea Falls|
We walked over the long bridge at Waldport, and I may or may not have quietly hummed "Go-o-o-in' to the cha-a-a-pel. . ." as I took these shots. It was that pretty arched opening, that's all.
Paul, Steven, and Matt. If you want to play Settlers of Catan with Smucker men, you have to place your arms and elbows and hands in a certain position. It's a requirement.
Nevin, Amy, and Jenny played Take One.
Sunday morning I woke up at 5:30 and decided to get up to prepare my Sunday school lesson and Sunday dinner and all the other things best done alone and quiet.
My sister Rebecca called me. My mom had just passed away, back in the nursing home in Minnesota, very swiftly and peacefully and quietly.
And just that quickly can life completely change.