Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Was on Vacation

I haven't written in here in a while. I'm still hanging around, just not always in Wheaton, Maryland. I've spent the last week in Idaho and Washington State. I'm sitting on the deck behind my friend Bob's house, thinking about life, and hanging out.

Bob and I go way back. We met in the Tri-Cities (Washington State) about 28 years ago. The intervening quarter of a century have taken us to very different places, but in the midst of a lot of change in both our lives, we've maintained a friendship. I think that both of us were afraid to lose the friendship, because it was rooted in some unique experiences in 1982 and 1983. Those years were full of new beginnings for both of us, and because we shared many of those experiences, we've felt connected over time and place.

I came back to the Northwest this past week for a family reunion and for a 40th year high-school class reunion. I had a wonderful time catching up with my brothers and sisters, and with classmates that I hadn't seen for forty years or so. I'm grateful for these opportunities, because I miss my roots, not only the mountains and the country, but I miss the people with whom I grew up. So it was very important to me to be here this last week.

The family reunion was a minor miracle, of sorts. My brother, Steve, called me last Monday and told me that he'd be here. I was so grateful that he could be with the rest of us. Lesley and he drove up here in their RV from Colorado Springs, and camped out north of Harvard. I picked Steve up on Thursday, and he stayed with my brother, Frank, and me at a guest house (the Peterson Barn) in Moscow. Wendy and Lesley were not able to be here, but I'm thankful that they graciously lent us their husbands for a few days. It was the first time since Dad died that all four of the Burlison kids were in the same place, and Michael and Katherine, Mom's kids were also with us, so it was a nice clan indeed. My sister, Grace, brought her daughter Lyn and her grandson Keshawn with her. It was the first time that Mom had seen her great-grandchild, and the first time Keshawn had met many of his great-aunts and -uncles.

We had a bench dedication in the arboretum. Frank had suggested late last year that the family place a bench in the arboretum to remember Dad. The bench is in a truly beautiful corner of the arboretum on the university campus, and is the first bench placed in the "old" arboretum. I hope that it gives a place for reflection for a tired faculty member or a confused student. It's facing a Giant Sequoia near the west end of the trees. While we were having the dedication, construction of a water line was going on. It was very loud and busy. We moved the gathering to the other end of the trees, which was much less noisy. Steve began with a prayer. Karen (Frank's former wife), Michael, and Frank spoke for the family. Keshawn read a letter from his Uncle Joe telling about his feeling for his grandpa. Aunt Virgie Lee, Uncle Harry, and Mom each said a few words, and Grace finished with a dedicatory prayer for the bench. It was very simple and very nice. Later, the family had a picnic at Mountain View Park at the edge of Moscow. Katherine did a bang-up job on the food! We all know how to eat.

Saturday, the family and some friends went out to breakfast at the Breakfast Club. Katherine has a regular breakfast group there, although we increased its size a bit. I was able to talk some with Cheryl and Bill, who are close friends of Kat. Beware, the servings at the BC are huge and good, so order wisely. After breakfast, Steve and I headed up to Potlatch for our class reunion. I enjoyed seeing many old friends (and being able to recognize most of them). I had a couple of nice conversations with old girlfriends, and meeting up with high school best friends was good. The connections are still there. The wife of the class president happens to be a teacher. She taught all of my kids. We talked about the intervening forty years, and all I can say, it's hard to believe that time has gone so quickly. Marta and her husband Mel both look good. I enjoyed the time with them.

I also had a chance to see my high school bud, Rick. He still looks and talks like Rick. He's still hunting, fishing, and ATVing, very much like we used to do. The most startling person there was Alvin. He looks exactly like he did in high school. It was pretty amazing. He's still as happily reserved as he was back then. I enjoyed talking with him.

Sunday, Grace and I went to have brunch with her childhood friend, Carolyn. Carolyn had been at the bench dedication in the arboretum, but she and Grace wanted to talk more. Carolyn's family and ours go way back together to 1946 or so. Grace and Carolyn have stayed in touch over the years, and both are at similar places in their lives. I think they are going to plan on doing some travel together. They would both enjoy that. It's funny, we all sit around and talk about getting old, never imagining that we'd make it out to here. Growing old is kind of awe-inspiring. Each succeeding day finally begins to add up. We've all mellowed.

Yesterday, Grace and family left Moscow, and so did I. I came over to Seattle to visit Bob, so here I am, typing this blog entry. I'll post it when I get back to Wheaton, because I haven't been able to find a working Internet connection on most of this trip! Oh well.