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The Whirlwind Visit
By River Stillwood
Wonderful morning here! Brisk, bright and breezy. The past few mornings, ice has coated the goats’ and horses’ troughs. Our Green hillsides are turning a lovely golden brown. Most of the trees are bare. The sky has turned pale. Winter is definitely on the horizon and from this distance it looks like it is going to be a frosty one. Already, nights are dipping into the low 20’s and afternoon highs are tap dancing around the forties.
After delighting in a warm and balmy Thanksgiving gathering in Arizona, our Ozarks cold feels especially bracing. Fortunately, my heart feels especially warm and that – along with a thick coat, lined gloves, a toasty hat– makes even the coldest morning here feel cozy.
Thanksgiving this year was fantastic! The food was abundant and delicious, the day was mild and calm and clear, the blessings too numerous to count. But, the best part of all was being with family.
There is nothing in this world like being with the people you love. To see their eyes sparkling when they walk into a room, feel your arms about them in a hug, hear their voices, familiar and inviting, filled with love. What a joy!
Mom is looking good and doing well. At 77, she is healthy and strong, though hobbled by a healing broken heel. Still, she was able to drive to Phoenix from San Diego with her beloved poodle, Breezy. Breezy is a service dog and wowed us with her intelligence and tricks. She’ll pick up anything Mom drops, find Mom’s glasses and car keys, and bring a tissue when Mom sneezes. She’ll even sit down and thrust one arm straight up in the air to wave “good-bye” with her paw.
My oldest brother, Krist, and his family are thriving, elated with daughter, Krista’s, engagement and Trisha’s progress in the tenth grade. Retirement definitely suits Krist. I’ve never seen him look healthier or be more relaxed. Such are the well-earned gifts of a solid family, a life well-lived and regular workouts at the gym!.
Krist’s wife, Mary, is one of those women who enter adulthood gorgeous and only become more so as they grow older. Now her fifth decade, she radiates beauty, class and character. She’s been through a lot of trials and tribulations, Mary has. Yet, she has persevered, triumphing over hardship not by becoming calloused and disillusioned, but rather by opening up and deepening her faith. She is an inspiration!
Krist and Mary’s daughters, Krista and Trisha, are beautiful, too. And intelligent. And generous. And warm and loving. The kind of women others gravitate toward and are glad they did. Now twenty-four, Krista has come into her own, graduated college, and is preparing to share her life with her fiancé.
As promised in this column last week, I checked out Krista’s betrothed to make sure he was up to my niece’s high standards. He is! Ryan is handsome without being arrogant, good natured without being a pushover. A natural conversationalist, he listens well, has a great sense of humor, and laughs easily. His solid self-confidence is nicely tempered with a healthy dose of humility. He’s honest and warm, loves Krista, respects her, and enjoys her family. If I had hand-picked a fiancé for Krista, I could not have chosen better.
Trisha, Krista’s fifteen-year old sister, is rushing headlong into adulthood. Suddenly no longer an adolescent, she’s tall and gorgeous and smart as a whip. In fact, she is the family’s Go-To-Gal for technical support. Math and science are her favorite subjects, she listens to Lady Gaga, Adele, and Justin Bieber, and she thinks the world rises and sets on heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey (whom she met once at a Malibu, California beach).
My womb-mate, Quinn, looks better than I’ve seen him look in a long time. He’s grown a goatee, giving him a professorial and poetic appearance that perfectly matches his intellect and personality. As well, Quinn has always had a penchant for the finer things in life. These days, he’s expressing this with a straight-out-of-GQ-magazine impeccably attired apartment and a car so sleek and technologically advanced that it would make James Bond proud.
Alas, my brother Branch decided to stay in California with his girlfriend MaryAnne for the holiday. While I missed seeing him, we enjoyed a brief visit over the telephone. Life is treating him kindly these days. He’s happy and in love. Who could ask for more?
As expected, Dad and Holly Anne spent their Thanksgiving with dear ones in Florida. As with Branch, we visited over the telephone and look forward to getting together soon.
I wish I could have stayed in the family’s company longer. Two days was simply too short and our “good-bye” arrived much too quickly. Still, it was a wonderful visit. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!