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A Happy Day

Melina said it correctly, “This is a bittersweet day.” Indeed it was, for its curious boundaries metered funeral flowers, eulogies, and graveside committal words. Flowing tears and grievous expression held hands with mirth and laughing aloud.

Two of our sons, their wives, and one grandson, along with Jerry and me, had attended the funeral of our dear friend, Rev. Paul Walker. It was a beautiful service, where loving honor was paid to this great man of God. Jerry was honored by being asked to speak during the graveside service.


Jerry’s birthday had been the day before. He had already celebrated with birthday dinners and breakfasts, a myriad of phone calls from family and friends, and by opening packages received in person, and in the mail. These particular youngsters, though, had not seen him on his special day, although they had communicated by mail and by telephone calls.

“Dad,” said Andrew at the conclusion of the services. “Let’s go eat somewhere. Celebrate your birthday a bit more.”

No one knew a close-by place to eat, so Andrew and Shauna consulted maps and recommendations on their phone, and we all pulled up in front of Billy Qs in Palm Desert. It was a tiny pizza place, with not a table to seat us all, except for one with high stools, so we scurried around, and helped Jerry get seated up there. After we had received the drinks we had ordered, Andrew leaned in, and said, “There’s a really nice place next door. Want to pay for our drinks and go there?”

“No.” I said, “Let’s don’t do that.”

All agreed, and what a dynamite decision we made. The food is outstanding, and the people are fantastic. The female partner of the man/wife owners of the little place was our waitress . . .and she is a hoot.

My husband has a line he loves to use in restaurants–one which causes the rest of us to smile wanly, and take on an apologetic look. Sometimes we tuck our heads. “Do you take food stamps?” he asked Darnelle.

She missed not a beat. “Yes we do. However, you need to provide three forms of ID.” Wide-eyed, Jerry was speechless. The rest of us were howling.

The upward momentum never faltered during that fine hour. When Darnelle learned this was a birthday celebration of sorts, she went next door to Cold Stone, bought an ice cream cake, and set it at the end of our table. She scurried up a make-shift candle, and we sang. Before we left this charming place, Darnelle was in the middle of all of us, and we were hugging and promising to see each other again.

For part of the summer, she and her husband take an RV to Big Bear Lake, which is about 20 miles from where Jerry and I live. “We take a portable pizza oven there, and cook up pizzas for everyone in the RV park.” She wrote her phone number on the back of a card. “Call me. We also take a boat there. Love to take you out on it.”

I love living.

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Trip to Lake Havasu

“We’ll be there between 5 and 6,” I had told Michael earlier in the day.

“So you’ll be here for dinner. Good.”

Jerry had a late-morning eye exam in Redlands; just before noon he was finished and we pulled onto the 10 freeway heading to Arizona. A heatwave had clamped down around us, so we knew it would be hot in Lake Havasu. It was. When we drove into the city limits, our sleek new car registered the outside temperature as 118. At Mike and Melina’s home we greeted each other, finding it impossible to avoid the usual jokes about the heat, including the line, “See we don’t need our jackets today.”

What a great time we had those days last week visiting with our son and his dear wife. We ate at home. We ate in restaurants. We talked. We played. We went to church. We discussed serious matters. We laughed. We discussed death, and ¬†we talked of Kelly’s baby who will be born in December. Once when we were looking at something he owned, I said to Michael, “You’re a blessed man.”

“Yes, I am, Mom. Far more than I ever expected.”

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Melina’s dad Ralph lives across the street, and he and Michael recently flew to Colorado where he bought a red hot rod. We all tootled around in his garages admiring his toys.

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He’s working on that old Winnie which Mike says he probably will never take out of the driveway.

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We indulged in a fair amount of this.

DSC_0005On Saturday evening Mike helped us onto his beautiful vessel, and we boated 30 miles or so down the Colorado river to Havasu Springs where we had dinner. It was truly a delightful time. The burning heat yielded to the cool of the water as we roared over its surface. The sky lay clear against the mountains that rose in the distance.

“About 35 miles an hour,” Michael answered when someone asked how fast we were going.

DSC_0035Mike and Melina.

DSC_9986Gorgeous loves being on the boat. She is a rescue dog that could not be more lovable.DSC_0054Arizona boasts magnificent sunsets. Added to the beauty of the evening as we headed back to Lake Havasu was this giant orange ball, that as we watched, sank behind the Whipple Mountain Range. Amazing. Truly.

DSC_0072.jpgMichael was up and out of the house by 5:30 on Monday morning. The plan was that at 9:00 we would meet him at Rusty’s Cafe for a final meal before we headed home. I saw Melina scurrying around in the kitchen, and when we prepared to tell her good-bye, she handed over this bag loaded with food. “Don’t want you to get hungry on the way home”

It was filled with fruit, cheese, pecans, fried chicken, fat cookies, and icy drinks. Ate some of the snacks on the way home, and saved the fried chicken for dinner that night. What a family God has blessed us with. What a life.

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