Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Minnesota Musings

We set a new record, Caleb and Grandma and I, door to door from here to my folks' in 26 hours. Let's just say that when you have a determined 19-year-old driver, Montana roads at night, and 3 Monster energy drinks for the driver, you cover a lot of ground in a short time.

Dad at going-on-95 tends his garden, picks apples, milks the goat, cuts wood with the chain saw, and a lot more. He has a few ongoing health issues related to his setback in April, but on my sister's advice I got some apple cider vinegar and he's on a regimen of a few tablespoons a day in a glass of water. Some people might fuss at drinking vinegar but it fits right in with Dad's philosophy that if it tastes terrible, it's probably good for you. Hence the broccoli in his oatmeal, for one minor example.

Dad has the most astonishing memory. He can pull up names and dates like his brain is Google with a high-speed connection. I'm happy to say that he's 14 pages into writing the story of his two years in Paraguay with MCC back when the Mennonite refugees were coming there from Russia. I read his story--so far--one night. He and a few other MCC volunteers took a freighter to Paraguay (actually they landed in Buenos Aires) and Dad was seasick the entire 28-day journey. Another one of the 8 or so passengers was a French guy who was involved in the movie industry, but unfortunately that was one name Dad couldn't recall.

My favorite story was how he was invited to a "tea party," a fancy affair where the MCC guys and two doctors and a few others were brainstorming about possible medical projects. Now Dad, growing up Amish in Oklahoma, was not accustomed to tea parties. They offered the options of sugar, lemon, and milk for your tea, so Dad put in all three. And, he said, it made cheese. He drank it, of course. See that previous paragraph about eating gross foods.

Mom's memory is still good for being 91, but names escape her all the time. It's very frustrating, because she has always loved to recount stories of people she worked for and all the hundreds of friends and relatives she knows, but she starts to tell a story and the name is just gone.

But there was one episode where Mom's memory was better than Dad's and mine. They had missed their grandson Jason's birthday. Oh dear. So Mom told Dad to buy a "grandson" birthday card when he went to town. Unfortunately he got a "granddaughter" card, which will be fine for Janet later this month but won't do for Jason. I was going to go to Paynesville to do my email at the library so I told her I'd pick up a card for her.

After I used the library I put my computer in the car, locked it, and went over to Twice's Nice, the cool second-hand store across from the library. And there was a whole box of cards. Bingo! I found a nice one and paid the very discounted price and went home and triumphantly gave it to Mom. She looked confused instead of pleased. "But," she said, "this one is for a granddaughter too!" She was right. What was I thinking???

On Monday I took Mom to Willmar for groceries and she picked out her own card.

Meanwhile with great effort I had managed to unlock the battleship a.k.a Pontiac doors except for the back door on the driver's side. The little knob simply wouldn't budge. I gathered, and Dad affirmed this, that those doors pretty much never get locked. I don't think the keys get pulled very often either.

You gotta love Minnesota.


  1. Love 'em... and it seemed serendipitous because I was musing on my Mennonite roots (just one of four grandparents has Mennonite roots, although I'm beginning to believe that my so-called English relatives on my maternal Granny's side were Palatine Germans and look Mennonite in their 19th C. portraits-- with the surname "Bakker"-- and they lived in Pennsylvania. Just a hunch.) and I love your humourous details. My Dad's Dad's family (Rempels) had relatives in Paraguay in the day-- I remember them being "leprosy doctors"? Or it could have been Honduras. Somewhere so very extremely exotic that we were totally in awe. They came from Kansas. And were MCC. Probably wouldn't have made 'cheese' in their tea, but I'm not sure... hehe.

  2. I loved your birthday card buying story. At first I thought maybe you were going to buy the whole box.

  3. Amazed!!! that your dad is doing all those things at 95! I'm 54 and sometimes feel like I can hardly keep up with the work.
    I have so enjoyed reading your blog. We have 5 children in the same age range as yours. Although our family attends a non-denominational type church now, I grew up in a Mennonite home. My mom was raised in a Mennonite home while my dad was the youngest of 10in an Amish family. So we have some things in common.
    Keep the posts coming! Sure am enjoying them.

  4. I hope I get to read your Dad's story. I read Up Frpm The Rubbles at least twice if not three times.