Tag Archives: Illinois

Four Minutes Apart and Counting

Sometimes things happen in your life for a reason. You may not know just what the reason is, however, there’s always this small voice that tries to reassure you that everything will be alright. Some may call it wishful thinking; I chose to call it a voice from God.

There are some major happenings at our place right now. I had to have a surgery about four weeks ago, but the story actually takes place the day before. My husband and I awoke around 7:30AM to a rainstorm. I rolled over casually thinking how nice the sound of the rain was and rolled over to see my husband awake, eyes wide, and with a distinct look of worry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, suddenly panicking because the look was so intense. “The Sludge pump in the basement,” he said. And I was like “yeah, so?” and he answered quickly. “It’s starting up every four minutes; I’ve been timing it for awhile.” Me, being blond and somewhat oblivious to the meaning of what that meant asked, “So, is that bad?” “Yes,” he said, “I’m pretty sure it is.” He rolled suddenly and stood up. “I think I’d better check the basement.”

That sentiment sent a panic in me that is difficult to describe. I have to explain, I am an artist. My art workroom is in my basement. I work mostly on paper, and I have several hundred mats, papers, original works, wood frames all in my basement in several different drawers, cartons, containers, etc. Some are sitting on the floor.

The panic came from an experience in year two after the home we built had a sludge pump failure and we experienced water in our basement. There was approximately 4-6 inches of water in our basement. My new carpet, my cabinets, our paneling, my work, several boxes that we still had unopened, and assorted magazines, papers, etc. all became victims of the flood. The thought of another flood of that proportion panicked me as well.

This was the day before my scheduled surgery to correct a hernia in my lower left groin area. I rolled gingerly out of bed, wincing as I got up and slipped on some shoes to make the trek to the basement. I threw on a light sweater to shield the chill of the cool basement.

As my feet hit the floor of the basement I went immediately into my art room and breathed a sigh of relief…no water. I went into the large main area of our unfinished basement to see my husband walking the perimeter and sizing up the situation. “Looks like everything’s ok…there’s a little bit of water over here coming up through a crack, but that’s all. I’m going to keep an eye on it for awhile.” The sound of the sludge pump again starting up seemed loud and ominous to me.

I breathed a sigh of relief though. Once it gets the OK from the hubster, we’re as good as gold. Then hubster (my nickname for my husband Larry) uttered menacingly, “That was less than three minutes.” I could tell from his expression that it was like he was experiencing birth contractions! I went back upstairs to put on some clothes, knowing the skimpy pajama material was no match for the coolness of the basement.

I returned downstairs about fifteen minutes later to find my husband with a large squeegee mop pushing water to the drain area in our basement. “Yeah, it’s coming in fast now,” he said and I stood amazed to see that from the time I had gone upstairs and had come back downstairs I could see water literally pouring through an area close to our basement door that led to the backyard. I looked around to see that along the walls towards the north wall of our house water was coming in rapidly and covering the floor.

I asked what I could do and Larry said to move the water toward the drain that the gravity would move the water towards the drain. I stood with squeegee in hand pushing water as quickly as I could toward the drainage area approximately 15 to 20 feet from where I was standing and on the opposite side of the floor. Water was coming up over the tops of my shoes. It had been only 25 minutes since we first checked to see a dry basement with one little area that oozed water through a small crack.

“How can this be happening again?” I asked and my perplexed hubster looked at me as if to say, “Don’t ask stupid questions woman because I don’t know!” I asked where our shop vac was because I was certain it would be of some use. My husband’s face registered a “DOH!” which of course I loved because it was obvious it never even crossed his mind. But there truly was a reason. We had had a garage sale and had put the shop vac in the sale. We hadn’t needed it in a long time, and we had put it into the sale. We had it for about $10 dollars. A couple of people looked at it but passed it by. Now I know God was sitting up there doing an Obiwan Kenobi, “You don’t need a shop vac. You can go to buy a new one for just a little more.” And of course the person in reply, “I don’t need a shop vac, I can go to buy a new one for just a little more.”

I actually thought about that as the hubster bounded up the steps thanking me and telling me how smart I was and how I do come in handy from time to time. I am documenting his comments here so I can once again revel in them for awhile at a later time. Those moments happen so infrequently!

After four hours we finally got the situation under control. In that four hours there was much cursing…him and me, much crying…only me that I know of…and a lot of pain, by both of us for having to move so quickly and me due to the pain I already had been experiencing due to the hernia. “I think we’re finally ahead of it, and I think the rain is slowing down.”

Let me say at this point, yes it was a heavy rain, but not one that was like a hurricane force type at all. It was just steady, and solid, and very wet.

“I’m going to find someone online to come and look at it and give us an estimate on maybe digging up around the house and seeing what’s going on. This should NOT have happened,” the hubster was serenely angry, not at me, thank goodness but at the absurdity and hopelessness that we had felt such a short time before.

He sent an email to company about an hour away and within fifteen minutes we got a callback. Cuomo and Sons out of El Paso, IL (about an hour and fifteen minute drive from here) was going to come and give us an estimate within two to three days.

Vic (the owner) came out and did a walk around with my husband; they talked awhile, discussed the manly art of perimeter tile and what the possible problems might have been. Discussion of clogged drainage and possible perimeter tile failure was in the forefront of the conversation.

A deal was reached and plans made that included taking out my landscaping in the front yard, a sidewalk on the north side of the house and digging up to expose the entire perimeter tile around the house. I was thrilled…Ok…imagine a very sarcastic face when I typed that!

So large equipment and a team of young men converged upon my house one beautiful early fall day. The first piece of business…let’s take out the trees in the landscaping in the front. My beautiful Chinese Maple that I had adored and cared for since we moved into our home 101/2 years ago was unceremoniously taken down along with a large poodle tree (so named because of the round poodle like extensions like those found on a poodle). And a small tree that had tried to die several times and I nursed back to health through pruning and caring for…all decimated within moments. I was saddened to tears, again.

Digging commenced in the back and the search was on for a round pvc pipe that supposedly ran diagonally from where an alcove (that had filled to a height of approximately five to six inches of water) that we have on the back of the house and which was to have run at a forty-five degree angle to join up with a long green five inch pvc pipe that went from the back south corner of our home and ran approximately seventy five to one hundred feet down an incline into a gully behind our home.

My husband, while at work, was calling every hour or so for updates on whether the elusive green pipe was found. It was central to carrying water away from our home. I was in the kitchen fixing myself a glass of juice when one of the workmen (Adam) came up the steps from the basement and said, “Mrs. Benson, do you have a camera? I think you need to grab it and come and take some pictures.” I stood dumbfounded for a moment trying to, number one grasp that he’d come into my house and I hadn’t even heard him, but then realizing what he had said I replied, “Did you find something?”

His face was full of an excitement and alarm. “You’re not going to believe what we found.” I grabbed the camera and headed down the stairs behind him. “We’ve been digging back here by the Southwest corner (My art room) and there’s no footing under the back corner, and the perimeter tile actually ends four foot before the end of the house and it’s been cut off and just ends without being capped or without being connected to anything to drain the water away from the house. There’s also a huge hole under the back corner, big enough for me to get my body into it. It has no footing at all under the back corner.” I stood there and tried to grasp what he was saying.

He jumped down into the hole that they had dug and started pointing and talking and I was absolutely in a daze. I was looking at a long rectangular piece of plastic with holes in the side, and it just abruptly ended. He got down on his back and said, “Look at this!” Adam put his arm into a huge open gaping hole under my house and then moved his body under the edge of the concrete wall and just laid there. “I’ve NEVER seen anything like this in all the houses I’ve ever worked on.” He said.

I was snapping photos on my digital camera as quickly as I could. At this point I should remind you that I was one week out from having had my surgery. My daughter, Shawna, had flown home from Los Angeles to help me out for a few days. I went back into the house and grabbed a video camera and asked her to help videotape while Adam explained what they had found. Adam was very obliging and volunteered to go through the whole explanation again for the video.

Work continued on the perimeter. Not only had the subcontractor failed to finish off that corner, it was found that there was not even ONE connection going away from the perimeter tile and going away from the house. They also discovered that the tile had collapsed on itself from the weight of the clay. There had not been enough pea gravel and sand used so all the slits in the perimeter tile were encased in the clay that surround my home.

A week went by and still no diagonal pipe was found going away from the alcove area, but the long green pipe that went down my hillside was totally uncovered. And then we found another wonderfully disturbing problem. The green pipe stopped almost two feet from my house. In other words, it went nowhere. It was not connected to anything; it just lay under clay and was not draining anything anywhere. The end closest to my home was caked with the clay, again, two feet from where the perimeter tile that it was to connect to way laying. Four inch holes were found in a couple of places. These holes were evidently supposed to be either capped or were supposed to have pipes connected to them that would then lead the water from the perimeter tile out away from my home. Ultimately now that everything has been unearthed we have discovered that there is not even ONE connection going away from my home from the perimeter tile. All we have is a large amount of collapsed perimeter tile that obviously has never done the job it was intended to do.

The first weekend after the discovery of the four foot discrepancy in the perimeter tile and the lack of concrete footing on the corner of my art room, my husband decided to call the builder and ask him to come out and take a look at the situation. He obliged and even brought his brother. They walked the exterior of our home with my husband and after surveying the findings announced it was no big deal, they did that kind of thing all the time and never had a complaint before. Seemed to work well everywhere else, and they couldn’t figure why we would have such a problem. Of course this was also before we discovered that there were no connections in any of the places where they were supposed to be. They basically washed their hands of it and left.

We stood in the yard and just looked at each other. “I spoke with one of my people at work. It turns out her husband is an attorney and he knows a real estate attorney. They asked how long we have lived here. I told them that we were going on eleven years in a couple of months. The statute of limitations is ten years. We can’t do anything about it in court. We’re going to have to pay for all of this ourselves.”

I was dumfounded. I couldn’t believe that with the negligence we’d discovered that this could possibly be true. Of course, as I said, this was before we discovered the total extent of the negligence.

The gentleman that is working on correcting the problem just keeps telling us that in all his years of working on homes, and he says it’s over thirty years, he has NEVER seen such shoddy work done so blatantly. He feels that one thing that may have happened is that they may have been prepared to make the connections, but the guy who came to do the backfill may have beat them to it and then decided it would be too much trouble to dig it back up and after all, who cares.

We have had another severe problem since we moved into our home. Insects! Hundreds of them were somehow getting into our basement. The situation was SO bad, in fact, that we decided against finishing off the basement because we couldn’t get rid of them. We bug bombed, we caulked, we plugged holes and still somehow they would infest our basement. Fortunately the majority stayed there although spiders seem to run rampant throughout the house. Now we understand why we are having so many problems.

We are still at least two to three weeks from the work being finished. The more they work, the more they find. We are past being surprised by anything they find.

SO as I said originally, everything must happen for a reason. I’m trying to be positive about this, however it’s extremely difficult. In our case, the rain happened so we could find the problem, the Cuomo Company needed to keep their men working, and we needed to find out just who we can or cannot trust. Ok, that’s a pretty simplistic way of looking at it, but we have no answers to why this would happen. Although we DO have a theory as to why this happened to us at this time. We have a vacation coming up at the end of the month. Everyone knows the worst problems you’re going to have always come when you’re planning something good. I’m reminding myself that the vacation will be even sweeter than we had ever hoped!

I don’t think we’ll be building again!

Advertisements

Jennie Pearl-Part 3

“Maybe In Another Year””

And maybe in another year.

You’ll come back to cheer me.

And when, I mean and if you do, I will give my love to you.

And on that day we’ll laugh, and cry, and we will close our eyes

To the hate of the world and the evil that looks our way

And in the end what is the answer

Will you love the other, or me,

And in the end what is the answer will there be another year for me?”

I don’t know how many times I sat and tried to imagine my conversation with Jennie. I was afraid of scaring her and appearing like a stalker with the enthusiasm I had been inundated with. I imagined how I would try to ease into the conversation. I thought of the different scenarios of how to back peddle if I seemed to be making her ill at ease. I don’t think I could have been any more nervous than if I’d been interview John McCain or Barack Obama!

The night finally came for the dinner. We had chosen a local fish house called “Jonah’s” and we had decided we would eat in their “Oyster Bar.” I worried over what to wear, what my first words to her would be and then checked my makeup one more time to make sure my mascara wouldn’t run because when I become excited I tend to ooze sweat and oil and I didn’t want to terrify her either! My husband went out to the car and backed it out of the garage onto the driveway. I walked around the car and was about to put my purse into the back seat when Jennie came out of her front door. My stomach tied itself into one more knot. She was so pretty and looked so happy. I think I mumbled something about hoping I was “casual” enough for the oyster bar and we laughed lightheartedly. My heart was beating in my eardrums now and we sat together in the back seat of the car.

I told her how I’d been looking forward to our night out together. I decided to wait until we were actually at dinner before I’d spring all the questions on her about her music. Alan came to over to the car and got in and we were off for Jonah’s.

We had a pretty private table in the back of the very busy restaurant. Alan remarked how surprised he was because he’d been there before during the week and it was always so quiet. I secretly rejoiced in the noise of the other patrons knowing that no one would really overhear our conversation.

Again I worried about how to begin. We ordered and just before they brought our drinks, I dove in. “Jennie, I have something to admit to you and I’m so afraid of embarrassing myself or you.” She looked at me quizzically and I continued. “Jennie I am one of your newest and biggest fans.” She looked at me still with the questioning look and suddenly I saw recognition in her face and eyes. “You are?” she asked and smiled. I explained to her how I had read the articles, seen the photo, and lastly how I had heard her song. I told her how deeply that sweet song had touched me and from what I’d read, had touched so many other people as well. “Really?” she said.

She was honestly touched, but there was more in that “really?” It was honest disbelief, realization, and the sudden impact of the reality all at once. I asked about how the song came to be. She explained that when she was with the Peoria Anthology Folk Group, they had decided to make an album. She had picked out a song, but was told because of royalties that it would be too expensive for her to sing it. They told her she should write her own song for the album. She smiled and said, “I just went off into a corner, sat down and came up with it in just a few minutes.”

I sat there with my mouth wide open. She had just come up with it. Gosh I’ll bet all the song writers would love to say that. She didn’t slave over it, in fact she thought it was too simple. It was decided they would use a piano instead of a guitar, and the song was born. I told her how I was amazed at one so young could come up with such a complex melody, and how it was such a heartbreaking little song. Alan had told me he thought it had something to do with her father having left her family while she was still young. So I had this lovely romantic image of this young girl pouring her heart out to her father in song. I said this to Jenny and she smiled. “No it had nothing to do with my dad, I just made it up.” I was in shock for a moment. “Really? Wow”…I was speechless for a moment.

Jennie commented on how surprised she had been when she’d gotten the call from the New York Times Reporter. He asked her if she was Jennie Hayes and had she been Jennie Pearl from Peoria who had recorded a song with the Peoria singing group and she answered yes. He said it was a little disconcerting to hear the grown up voice from someone he’d come to know and admire from the recording. Jennie was fifteen when she recorded the song. He had asked her if she’d known she been being sought for for a long time and that she indeed, had quite a following. Jennie said that she had been speechless when he told her that. She had not known the song had been picked out from all the songs across the USA to be included on the “Wayfaring Stranger:Ladies From The Canyon” CD. She hadn’t known that royalties had been sitting unclaimed for her for the sales of the CD. And then she told me that her favorite part had been that it put her back in touch with an old friend, Chuck Perrin. This is where I was certain I was going to be perceived as a stalker!

I admitted to Jennie that I had been in touch with Chuck and that he was wanting me to help convince her to again return to singing and that he wanted to return to Peoria for a reunion of the PAFG. Jenny smiled and even laughed. She thought it would be a wonderful idea, but she no longer sang. And so I sat closer to the table, looked directly into her eyes and said, “Jenny, why did you stop singing?” Her answer stunned me! TO BE CONTINUED!!!

Living in the Midwest

Today’s the day I’ve chosen to talk about my views of the Midwest. I personally live 200 miles South of Chicago right off the main interstate for Illinois, Interstate 74. You could look for me on Google Earth and even track my street to the small cul de sac that is part woods, part city and see my sweet little one story ranch home. In the neighborhood we live in our home is modest. I am surrounded by kept lawns, landscaping, waterfalls, special lighting and various flora and fauna the likes of which only are rivaled at Disneyworld!

The term “Will it play in Peoria” was coined for the area within 10 miles of my home. We are a stones throw away from the Illinois River where Asian Carp will fly into your motorboat and the water looks as brown as gravy. There are semblances of high rise apartments across the river, old buildings that have been transformed into lofts and offices in an effort to revitalize downtown Peoria. There are no longer movie theaters in downtown Peoria. One must travel to the far reaches of Peoria or go to the rural multiplex theater outside of Pekin in order to view a movie for $7 and popcorn for about $3.50. A bottled water is $2.50.

One of the finest golf courses in Illinois is in Peoria, I’ve been told. I see it from the road. Never took up playing golf. It always seemed too elitist for me, and I always had viewed myself as a quiet country girl. No need to really learn about the “finer” things like golf. We have fairgrounds in Peoria. We have a large newly renovated Civic Center that supplies us with hockey, indoor football, orchestra’s, ballet, and assorted musicians passing through on their way to larger venues. My last venture to the Civic Center featured Alison Krauss and Union Station, where Alison was happy to say that Peoria was full of “her people.” She grew up in Decatur, IL which is just a few miles from here. So we all clapped and yelled appropriately when Alison used the phrase, appreciating the fact that one of our own had escaped this area and made it to the “Big Time!”

There’s a rich mix of Republicans and Democrats here. Truly it feels pretty equal to me, although at times we bend more conservatively in our views. We view Chicago and St. Louis as foreign countries, set apart from the reality of true Midwest ethics and values. But when we need to explain to someone where we live, we will always say halfway between Chicago and St. Louis. Come to think about it, that’s pretty accurate. Chicago has always felt more Democratic while St. Louis always seems more Republican driven in attitudes.

Women in the Midwest when I was growing up here, chose to be either Nurses, Secretaries, or Teachers. Not that any one of the three is a terrible profession, it’s just that Computers didn’t get here as quickly as we would have wanted. It would have opened the eyes to so many women and girls as to the real job opportunities that are out there in the world to experience.

It’s true we are behind the times a bit here. We get in on fashion trends well after LA or New York. We watch a lot of news in the Midwest. We crave information on Hollywood and celebrities. We embrace the bigger than life men and women as surrogates for the lives we all wish we had. We work hard in Illinois. Caterpillar is one of the main companies here along with State Farm Insurance. State Farm is actually in Bloomington, Illinois, about 30 miles east of here.

We celebrated the opening of Crispy Creme with great pomp and circumstance as we did when Starbucks first opened it’s doors here. Schwan’s still goes door to door to sell frozen foodsicles to the masses. Our rural homes and barns are mostly in need of repair. I’ve seen structures disappear over the past five years. The grand barns that once dotted the landscape have given way to metal buildings. Snowmobiles are seen in most rural areas. You don’t see guys with guns in the back window of their pickup trucks, but you do see lot’s of pickup trucks. SUV’s are the thing in Central Illinois. We have a plethora of Soccer Moms with assorted bumper stickers praising Bush, bashing Bush, Backing Obama, Backing McCain. Many times beany babies are still in the back windows of cars.

It’s no wonder we are thought of as unnecessary at election time. Illinois will back Obama. He’s our native son, we MUST support anyone that is trying to better themselves from the state of Illinois, and so few people become celebrities from here that it is imperative that we support someone about to break the Illinois glass ceiling and surpass expectations.

I’ve watched news nightly, hoping for some spark from either candidate that will ignite my passion for them. I haven’t seen it yet. My husband and I discuss politics in depth. We sometimes agree, and sometimes he will play the devil’s advocate or I will just to spice up our conversations. One thing we do agree on is the coverage of the elections. Most of McCain’s coverage is discussions about his age, his lack of coverage due to Obama, or his experience in Washington. Obama is for change. He is for taxing big Oil companies, and he wants to play nice with foreign countries to restore our image around the world.

People of Illinois are in danger of becoming sheep. We have so few things that truly set our souls on fire (except for a strong religious base) that we will fall into place behind our neighbor who puts a sign up in the yard to show support for his/her candidate.

If the tone of this post is boring to you, it’s to make a point. The people in Illinois need to WAKE UP PEOPLE! Complacency is the key to years of mundane things for ourselves. I am working for the day when I will be moving from Illinois to California. It’s not the end all be all by any means. It’s just that it seems so much more ALIVE in California. People form opinions, try new things, and go to places other than Wal-Mart and Church. It’s not nirvana but it’s not Illinois. We put up with corrupt governments here. Chicago has had one for years, Springfield, our capital, houses some of the most inept legislators in the country. President Bush came here to Peoria a few weeks ago. Just for Peoria, you could get your photo taken with the President for $5,000. A STEAL since the going rate for Presidential Photographs is usually $10,000 per shot. I couldn’t believe it. Because we are Illinois and considered a “Depressed” fiscal area, we got the bargain basement prices to be with the President. How embarrassing is that? Sigh…

Illinois, Iowa, Indiana. Three Midwest states that I will bet you find Boring. So do we!

Family Reunion 101

Sorry to be gone all day yesterday. We had family reunion. Yes, it is it’s own kind of hell. Our family has moved from the large park with the lakes and rolling countryside to a small park in the hometown of the organizers of the event. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fair. They’ve been working on it every year for several years, so if they want it in their own hometown, that’s cool. It’s a small city park with a few swings for kids, a pavilion to keep the rain off, a woman’s bathroom with two stools…one taller, one shorter…no stalls just two stools, and one sink where a lone bottle of hand cleaner stands. The paper towels are just that…a roll of paper towels. It’s quaint when you think about it and it’s not too dirty. The concrete floor was swept before our arrival. You can tell because of the pattern’s left from the broom. There were also the vinyl Tablecloths, some Christmas and Easter, that covered the many picnic tables. The biggest challenge came from the “Swat as many flies you can before they lift off the food and carry it away” game. We’ve been going for years but I swear I have NEVER seen the quantity or the voraciousness of flies like we saw yesterday. Someone brought a large fan which they put at the end of the tables thinking the heavy breeze would blow the flies off. Not these flies! These aberrations of nature, while small, seemed to defy the laws of what their little wings should be capable of! Imagine one of those scenes from Hurricane Katrina, without the rain, where the reporter is standing in the Wind Tunnel of nature just trying to stay upright while reporting the strength of the wind. So was our trip down the smorgasbord of food at the reunion! It got to be pretty funny actually. I stood alone fighting the intrepid hoard for awhile, plastic plate in hand and waving furiously at the onslaught of flies.

Now for our scientific portion of our blog:The Midwest has seen it’s share of large rains and flooding over the past few months. Due to the vast amounts of water, we lost many farm animals, wildlife and assorted things that crawl all over central Illinois. Hence the large influx of little wiggly things that turned into massive quantities of Flies. Then those little flies flew off, landed on other things, made more little flies and then winged their way to the Carter Family Reunion in Abingdon, IL. Ain’t nature amazing?

Anyway, now on to the reunion itself. Family came from Texas, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois for the reunion. That made it sound huge didn’t it? Well it was a nice turnout, perhaps thirty people if I could count them while they were being blown away at the lunch line. It looked a bit like a scene from a three stooges movie. Plastic plates in hand moving down the line with their hair blowing straight back in the breeze, swatting at flies and trying to keep their plates level as they traversed the potato salads, the fried chicken and the jello’s. Plates were upended into the belly’s of some as they thought it best to put salad on their plates first, not knowing that the lack of weight would indeed go against their aim of getting to the baked beans and that they would be wearing ranch dressing down the front of their white shirts. Moving on to the seating arrangements. These wonderful families who chose to come all the way to Abingdon, Illinois to see all these relations they haven’t seen or even met, sat together with their own families away from all the people they came to see. And with that might I add that the people who see each other every day or at least regularly chose to sit together as well. Me, I haven’t seen some of my family for awhile, decided to sit at a table in the center of things. I fixed a spot for my hubby and I and walked away from the table to run the gauntlet of food and flies. I returned to find that one of my uncles, God Love Him (family phrase and I think his official name now), had chosen to sit at the table with us. That was fine.

This uncle was severely injured in an auto accident in the 1970’s. My favorite male cousin was killed in the impact between a semi tractor trailer and a midsize car that strayed across the center line during a thick fog. Unkie had a severe brain injury and I sat in intensive care for days mourning the loss of my cousin and worrying about my uncle. I felt my cousin would have wanted me to watch over my uncle so I took the duty seriously. Even when he appeared wide awake he would speak of heaven and hundreds of thousands of men and women standing around the thrown of God. Now this was very disturbing to me as my uncle was NOT a religious man at all at this time, and his words were both inspirational and scary as hell to a 19 year old!

ANYWAY back to the reunion, so this uncle is the one across from me, he doesn’t still talk nonsense, but he’s not ever been the same. He uses a cane now, has cancer, has the shakes, sometimes bathes and drools. So this was my lunch date. I always hug and treat him like I used to before the accident. It’s my duty to my cousin you see. But here he sat across from me in his white t-shirt with assorted things tumbling down his large belly that didn’t make it all the way to his mouth. Then as he reached for his large glass of Coke with ice, tipped it over directly into the path of my plate. It was a Kodak moment. He couldn’t move, I was in shock and couldn’t move and my hubby, who had since sat down beside me, looked at me as if to say, “so you gonna get up and get something to clean this up or what.” So I bounded up from the picnic table and grabbed the only thing I could find…paper thin paper napkins, by the hands full because, of course, the glass was full to the brim! After several trips back and forth to the paper napkin pile, which by the way were being held down by weighty stuff to prevent being blown away by the Wind Tunnel, I cleaned up the table. Unkie was mortified of course, and I felt so terrible for him.

The highlight of the reunion was a spirited game of Bocce Ball and a few people who decided to play “Hit the ball over the fence and land on peoples cars” Game. There were also those amazing moments when we all gathered in front of a video from 1989 that showed everybody that isn’t with us anymore and the people who haven’t bothered to come to the reunion since then. There were tears. Why do we put ourselves through this regiment year after year? I think there are several reasons actually. 1. We like to let people know we’re still alive. 2.We like to brag on everything in our lives to our family! 3.We miss that sense of family that we constantly try to recapture. 4.We go to see who else will show up. and 5. LOTS of REALLY good food, even though this years was covered in Flies.

I’d like to have a nickle for every time someone said, “Oh don’t worry…they can’t eat all of it! They’ll save some for us…or don’t think where those flies were before they flew in here and landed on Aunt Eleanor’s Chicken and Noodles! I won’t be going to as many when I move to California. We talked about that on the way home, along with how sad it was to see how much things have changed. When we were kids the reunions were HUGE and no we didn’t know half the people who came, but we recognized them year after year and looked forward to seeing those same faces. What I’d give to be able to go back to that woman that I was in 1989 and kick her in the ass and tell her to go up to every one of the people there and tell them how much they’ve meant to her. Even the one’s who’s names she still didn’t know when she was 37 years old! For that I am ashamed now cause they’re all gone. All gone except for a video from 1989 that showed us what Family truly meant one August day in the Park.

The Carter Family Reunion
The Carter Family Reunion