Susan did not accompany us due to obligations for her church job: a conference in Bismarck yesterday and Sunday school this morning. So our daughters and I packed up after school Friday, grabbed some fast food on our way out of town, pulled over along the highway several times during the drive to roll down the windows and talk to cattle and horses roaming in the ditches (ranchers along that route aren't so good at maintaining sturdy fences around their pastures), and arrived at Dad and Beverly's new house after everyone had wrapped up the day's work and was resting while eating some late-night pizza. Yes, our timing was impeccable.
Suzanna was eager Friday night to give Grandma a homemade gift: this washcloth that Suzanna knitted for her.
My sisters from NE and OR had flown in a few days earlier and had been helping Dad and Beverly pack and haul loads of stuff from one house to the other, and Beverly's son Dennis and his wife Julie (who live there in town) lent their trailer and their strong backs and arms to the cause, too. As a consequence, there wasn't so much left for the girls and me to help with this weekend. My sisters and I did move a load of big items (e.g., couch, bed frame, desks) and bring several boxes of smaller items (e.g., computer equipment, clothes, kitchen ware) yesterday. And both yesterday and today we helped unpack boxes in town, set up electronics, organize the kitchen and laundry room and spare bedroom, arrange the living room furniture . . . whatever needed doing in town. It was low-key but productive.
I don't recall ever having seen the living room at home (the house in which I grew up on the farm) empty. Yet just look at it. If one were a sentimental type of person, one would probably tear up at the thought of saying goodbye to one's childhood home as one's parent moves on to another house. (sniff, sniff)
Dad and Beverly spent each night in their new house, but the girls and I joined my sisters on the floor of the empty living room on the farm, spreading out our sleeping bags and having one big slumber party. We scavenged for food in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and made some tasty breakfasts (I made scrambled eggs on Saturday, and Sandy made French toast on Sunday) to start each day. My sisters and I had lots of "Aw, remember when . . . ?" moments as we packed up items in each room and found papers or objects from our childhood. When we didn't need the girls to help us pack for a few minutes, they built forts in the garage using empty cardboard boxes and ran around the yard, enjoying the fresh air and open spaces. It's always nice to be back home on the farm, even if for a bittersweet occasion such as this weekend.
Saturday evening Dennis and Julie had us all over to their house for supper: grilled burgers and hot dogs, cheesy potatoes, and whipped orange dessert. Abigail and Hillary went grocery shopping beforehand with Julie and then helped her make supper--what a special treat for them to spend that time alone with Dennis and Julie! We ate on the patio in their back yard, and it was awesome: a serene summer evening with a light breeze spent in their lovely back yard with its carefully groomed grass and well tended flowers eating delicious food and enjoying their company. The girls, Julie, and my sister Sandy even played several games of Simon Says on the lawn while the rest of us looked on and laughed. After supper they invited us to their high-tech family room to watch a movie on their huge TV with surround sound. Julie made us ice cream sundaes while we laughed and cried at Snow Dogs. It was a terrific night!
The girls and I returned to Dickinson tonight (school tomorrow, you know), and my sisters will fly back to their own homes in the next couple days, giving Dad and Beverly some "alone time" to unpack and put things away and hang things on the walls without extra bodies underfoot. While my sisters and I were all still around, we wanted to take Dad and Beverly out for a nice supper to celebrate their wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow). We thought of driving to a steakhouse in some town in the area, but we couldn't find one that was open on a Sunday . . . even in Williston! We ended up eating at Applebee's in Williston, and it was an absolutely delicious meal (I recommend the steak and riblets combo with garlic smashed potatoes).
Beverly, Dad, Abigail, Suzanna, Hillary, Sandy, and Cathy in the lobby of Applebee's
We said our goodbyes at the restaurant, and then the girls and I headed south while Dad, Beverly, and my sisters drove north to go back to the house in town. At 8:30 P.M., I had the girls "go to bed," snuggling together in the back seat with their blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals so that they wouldn't be sleep-deprived for school tomorrow. It was a quiet drive through the pitch-black night that hung over the winding roads through the Badlands of western ND. Even though I was "home" this weekend, it's good to be home now for real.