Tag Archives: Grandparent

A son and an idiot…


My mother passed away two years ago this week, and since today’s letter to Ellen and Reid won’t be posted until later, I was planning on a re-run (there’s not many of those in this space) of the final Sept. 2011 letter to mom. She could not read it and I doubt it was ever read to her but it was important to me to create and mail it.

But none of the letters to her – save a couple of Mother‘s Day notes – could be found. They were in a special folder, and that folder is gone. I feel like a complete idiot for letting this piece of my past slip away. In its stead, Ellen and Reid got one final, grandma-centric note the week before she passed away. Here it is.

—————-

September 26, 2011

Ellen/Reid: The phone was with me all weekend in the event the call would come about your grandmother.  Usually the phone is set to vibrate or silent, but this time the volume was turned up.  I find myself with this increasing sense that combines doom, inevitability and sadness.  Not a very good combination of three things.  I worry about your grandmother and what is going through her mind during these days.  What is she thinking (if she can think)?  What bothers me the most is that she is alone.  Your uncle is there often enough, but she’s still alone.  That is the big thing; she is there and I am here, leaving her to fend for herself, no one there to give her comfort as often as she needs it or could certainly use it.  It doesn’t give a very good feeling as a son to not be there with his mom.  For all these past weeks I’ve thought I would be pretty stoic about things but last night it just began to hit me that her end will come and I won’t be there to at least hold her hand.

I was not there at the end, but I was there shortly beforehand. It's been two years now since that final bit of comfort for my mother.

I was not there at the end, but I was there shortly beforehand. It’s been two years now since that final bit of comfort for my mother.

That must be the guilt part of it seeping through.  I’m not sure what she would vocalize about it.  She’s had a rough last few years and now I second guess myself about not getting out there more often, especially over the summer once I knew her condition was slipping very rapidly.  It just makes me feel pretty shitty about things.  Now, there’s no going back and trying to make amends all over again.  There is no time.  Instead I’m down here playing golf and lolling around when I could be up there to help her out in her final moments.  It just makes me angry to think about my negligence.  The final good byes Continue reading

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Gonna be a grandpa…


Ellen shows her pregnancy progress. At first she didn't want this photo posted, but I asked and she granted permission. She looks great.

So I’m gonna be a grandpa.

This will be entirely new turf for Ellen‘s mother and I.  Perhaps it’s time to go to ‘Grandpa school’ so as to brush up on all the nuances of spoiling the child (a little girl), how to insist on an unannounced last-minute visit without seeming invasive, or what’s new in Caldecott Medal-winning children’s books.

I had a couple hours of advanced warning before the blessed announcement a few months ago.   Ellen texted me in the afternoon to see if I had Skype (no) but could I download it pretty fast (yes).  She and Tim would Skype me later that evening.  All mental systems were immediately on high alert.  The kids would never arrange a live webcast for something as mundane as a new car or bathroom makeover.  No, this had to be big.

And it was.  We have marveled at ultrasound images and news of the baby rolling around and moving.

Since there was no letter last week due to my laziness and Ellen and Reid being on the road for the holidays, I dug into the archives for a letter that celebrated some of Ellen’s earlier good news.

————

June 15, 2009

Ellen: I must admit that when you were a peanut I never once imagined walking you down the aisle.  Now that time has come and you will be a beautiful, exuberant and composed (okay, let’s reserve judgment on the composed part for a little while longer) bride.

In the grand scheme of things, what all of this says is that you are mature, you are ready, and you have everything it takes to begin a loving family.  For a long time, you have been incredibly responsible in just about every aspect of your life; work, play, finances, and more.  If anything, that entitles you to the day you are about to enjoy and treasure.  That you took your sweet time on this deal says a lot about who you are and how you approach things.

My all-time fav pic of Ellen on her wedding day. Who knew a few years later that she'd be on a mommy track? We are very proud of her and Tim.

Your mom and I, and Reid and your grandparents and Nancy and Gordie and Kristin and Jeff and Ralph and Gayle, Joe and Andy, are incredibly proud of you.  As you take that longest walk that will be over so quickly, be sure to soak in the admiring views and stares because what it means is that people love and respect you.  And that is both friends and family alike.  Just look at the “response rate” on your invitations; if that isn’t some sort of record, I don’t know what is.  That is the sure sign of how people ultimately view you and Tim.  They want to be with you both on your day of triumph.  Not all couples can say that.

In no way shape or form do I view this as losing a daughter, but rather, it is gaining a family that includes a still-wonderful daughter and a great, great son-in-law.  That is probably the best any dad and mom can ever hope for.  Your mom and I could not be happier for you and your new life.  Nothing I will ever experience will make me smile any more or make me any happier than walking you down the center line and then answering Angie: “Her mother and I.”

Way to go, kid.  We love you.

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Postscript: Sept. 30…


The visitation was a wonderful thing. Full of stories and laughter, nice chats with my mother's friends and our assembled family.

A couple of posts ago I whined about kicking 2011 in the butt at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, but am now backing away from such stupidity.

In hindsight, what has occured is a good thing.  For mom, it is release from her condition and, for believers, a reunion with her husband.  For those of us left behind, there is relief, too; for Ralph and Gayle it ends a terribly long spell spent with mom in varied nursing homes and care facilities.  For me, it ends prolonged guilt that the two of them and mom were way out there in central Nebraska with me all the way East.  A number of folks mentioned that very thing; her suffering is at a merciful end, and ours, too.

In an odd way, mourning is tougher for friends than it might be for us.  I think people struggle (I have) in their well-meaning to find the right words or the correct way to phrase their condolences.  It is just an awkard time.  Still, all of what people did say is very much appreciated.  

Much of the time that might be set aside for pure brief is waylayed by the practical matters at hand, i.e. coordinating airport pickups for Ellen and Tim, Reid, and my uncle Henry and aunt Mary and their escort, my cousin Barb from Texas.  There were meetings with a lawyer (attorneys have a strong grip on the post-death process) and financial folks who tended to our parent’s estate, to say nothing of pouring over pictures and family items so Ralph and Gayle could reclaim a sizeable portion of their basement. 

But there were a few moments when grief properly showed itself.  As is the way of visitations, my brother and I got to the funeral home two hours early to make sure preparations were in order.  Once we agreed that mom looked was we hoped she would (she did), and that there were no typos in the annoucement brochure, I found myself in an empty pew in the parlor.  That’s when events crowded in on me.  The other was during a walk in the rural country just west of Grand Island.  The third was on the second leg of the flight home.  For some reason the idea of traveling still further away from mom and dad swept over me.  I’ll have to go back once mom’s marker is in place so I can say hello to them together.

—————

September 26, 2011

Ellen/Reid: The phone was with me all weekend in the event the call would come about your grandmother.  Usually the phone is set to vibrate or silent, but this time the volume was turned up.  I find myself with this increasing sense that combines doom, inevitability and sadness.  Not a very good combination of three things.  I worry about your grandmother and what is going through her mind during these days.  What is she thinking (if she can think)?  What bothers me the most is that she is alone.  Your uncle is there often enough, but she’s still alone.  That is the big thing; she is there and I am here, leaving her to fend for herself, no one there to give her comfort as often as she needs it or could certainly use it.  It doesn’t give a very good feeling as a son to not be there with his mom.  For all these past weeks I’ve thought I would be pretty stoic about things but last night it just began to hit me that her end will come and I won’t be there to at least hold her hand.

That must be the guilt part of it seeping through.  I’m not sure what she would vocalize about it.  She’s had a rough last few years and now I second guess myself about not getting out there more often, especially over the summer once I knew her condition was slipping very rapidly.  It just makes me feel pretty shitty about things.  Now, there’s no going back and trying to make amends all over again.  There is no time.  Instead I’m down here playing golf and lolling around when I could be up there to help her out in her final moments.  It just makes me angry to think about my negligence.  The final good byes from a few weeks ago just aren’t enough.  I’m just not handling it was well as could be done.  I told John about my misgivings and doubts, and he assured me there was no right or wrong way to handle such situations, especially if the person (your grandmother) has a diminished capacity to recognize us or anyone else.  That was comforting to some degree.

The obituary is my responsibility and there’s been almost no progress on it.  In fact it hasn’t even been started.  There’s been not a lot of thinking put toward it.  It most certainly won’t be as long as your grandfather’s but when the time comes I’ll put my full creative juices into it.  Usually there’s no problem in at least mentally piecing together items like this but now there’s a big case of writer’s block.  I don’t know how to start it out and what the middle and ending parts will be.  What do you say about your mother that you haven’t already thought about on your own?  We’re about to find out.  Ralph and Gayle will most certainly edit it so I have to take that into account.  Obituaries aren’t for the family but for the circle of friends.  I’ve been looking at some in the paper here in Charlotte but there’s just no feel for how it should come together. 

Someone mentioned a few days ago that when his mother passed away, he told his sister that now the two of them, both in their 60s, were orphans.  That was an interesting way to look at things even at their age.  There’s some truth to it.  Not that it applies to either of you because you’ve been on your own for quite a while and have made you own ways, admirably so, but when your grandmother passes there won’t be a final lifeline for advice and counsel any more.  That will all be gone, just as it does for every generation.  Not to be morbid about it, but these are just the things you think about, it seems to me, when the torch is passed.  The flame doesn’t go out but it’s instead just handed off to whomever comes next. 

The phone will remain on high volume for however much time it takes for this unhappy predicament to pass.  You might stay on alert for at least a text message that a call is about to come your way.  The rest of the planning is already underway, but the call will be your sign that the plan is being put to use.

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Bad things in the shadows…


When 2010, a truly crummy year,  came to pass, the calendar and every single one of the 365 crummy pages – save a few – couldn’t be dumped fast enough.  2011 seems to be stacking up much the same way.  When the stroke of midnight comes on December 31, whatever bubbly is in my glass will be hoisted to the year ahead, not the year just past.

Enough with the whine.  The kids know, and without any prompting from me, that life simply moves on without consideration for our views and the literal calendar pages are not at fault.  Jobs, politics, daily living, it’s all there.   Ellen copes with a teaching system that wrestles with the same pressures every other school district struggles to overcome.  Reid has an agency job that makes break-neck pace seem like a Studebaker in the slow lane.

So they see the sunny side while their dad sees bad things the shadows.  I feel badly they read the constant griping and moping.  There damn well better be better days ahead.  Time seems to conspire against us, however, like wave after wave on a shoreline.  But when you talk to each of them, there is a sense of youthful optimism.   At their insistence we will deal with what comes when it comes.  That doesn’t mean I won’t kick 2011 in the rump as it heads out the door.

————–

September 19, 2011

Ellen/Reid: I’m getting a lot of questions about whether I am about to get caught in the bank’s web of 30,000 job cuts.  The honest answer is I don’t know.  My ratings have been good but beyond that how things will play out is anyone’s guess.  The bank has done an admirable job of softening the blow by near-continual stories in the press as well as alluding to the situation in the bank’s own communication mechanism.  As you say, Ellen, retirement isn’t that far off.  One would just move on to something else, wouldn’t he?  Numb’s the word.  There is no other way to accept what might, or might not, be coming this way.

Reid, I feel sorry about your travel situation to NYC.  I’d just make sure to let your boss know that you are sorry about the situation.  What she said to you and what she thinks could be entirely two different things.  Make sure she knows.  Everyone misses flights; I’ve missed my share, too.  It’s just the vagaries of travel.  It has happened to everyone, especially when you live in a big metropolis where getting to the airport can be dicey in the mornings, what with cabs and trains and clogged traffic and people honking.  You’ll be all right.  It’s just the way it is for the working traveler.

Our all-knowing legislature has seen fit to table discussions on the incredibly dire education, jobs and economic situations (North Carolina unemployment is nearing 11%) down here while it opts to take on far more important matters: a constitutional amendment to define a marriage as between a man and a woman.  What this ultimately will do is ban same-sex couples from legal unions along with other rights afforded heterosexual couples.  It is total and complete lunacy.  Of course, they cite biblical passages as a way to punish the minority citizenry.  Hey, I’m as far from a Biblical scholar as one can get but fire-and-brimstone zealots seem to be equally as far away on the forgiving spectrum (which is my loose interpretation of a forgiving God).  They even twist the discussion as something of an employment thing (man-wife unions create jobs) which I totally don’t get.  Even the business community has come down on the side of same-sex neutrality because bias is bad for business.  Thankfully, Presbyterians don’t share such religious heavy-handedness either.  Tolerance seems to be pretty old school these days.  It’s up to you but I’d hope you two have at least a small dose of it.  There seem to be bigger things on God’s plate these days.  We just don’t seem to get it down this way.  As you would guess, the zealot way is to tell those in disagreement to take their views elsewhere.  Some people are.

There is nothing new in your grandmother’s situation although the planning is already afoot.  Ralph and Gayle have picked out mom’s clothes and jewelry for her service.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll handle the obituary.  On one hand it does make sense to deal with the inevitable although it makes me a little uncomfortable, maybe sad is a better term, since the event has not come to pass.  Perhaps it is just the way things are.  I’ve been trying to get my emotional arms around the whole darn situation but nothing has mentally jelled for me just yet.  I keep going back to this idea that we should remember your grandmother as she was, not as she is.  When push comes to shove for me whenever the inevitable occurs, that wouldn’t be such a bad mindset or approach for the two of you, either.  Not to be morbid about it but it is just pre-planning in a manner of speaking.

Okay, gotta run.  Ellen, sorry to see poor old Henry’s face the other day.  Poor guy.  What a sweetie.  Since I work at home now, perhaps there’s no excuse for not having a dog.  But if I got one, that would make two in the household.  Get it?

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“It’s reality”…


As noted a few posts ago, Reid reminded me not to stew too much that the letters to he and his sis are far from high art.  “It’s reality,” he said.

Last week was more of the same.  If it is reality, then they are getting a super steady dose of it.  It is remarkable how the letters have changed in the past decade to keep pace with their maturity and ability to accept the good news along with news which isn’t so cheery.  That’s testament to them getting on with leading their own lives.  What once was designed to keep them occupied for a few moments in college with homey witticisms has become a running dialogue of one family’s life and times.  As with any family, a hell of a lot happens in the space of 10 years.

Actually, we have just passed the 11 year mark – Ellen, correct me if that’s wrong – in the drip-drip-drip dad-to-children process.  When you look at what has occurred even in the short span of the past half-year, it continues to be evident (at least to me) that the letters are as much for the dad as the pages are for the kids.  It is cathartic to record what’s gone on in Nebraska, my health, and whatever else weighs even a little heavily on me. A few weeks back while in Grand Island, I had a Saturday night alone to pour over boxes of old family photos, some from the late 1800’s and the early part of the last century.  Who were these people and where do they fit into extended Bradley-Andersen-Allington-Benson history?  There were few pieces of correspondence to shed light or hold clues.  Many of my ancestors shown in sepia or black and white prints will pass by without so much of a hint as to who they were, where they lived, what they did.  Right then it came to me one more time that for better or worse, Ellen and Reid have at least my side of the story in the stack of paper that at least Ellen throws into a box.  It’s better than no side of our story at all.

————-

September 6, 2011

Ellen/Reid: There hasn’t been much in the way of light-hearted news as of late.  Your grandmother’s predicament, hurricanes dumping on North Carolina, job losses/high unemployment in Charlotte.  You’ll just have to bear with me while I pick my chin up off the floor.  One of these days that sour worm will turn and it will be rosy and sun-shiny.  Uh huh.

Actually, I don’t how one can keep moving ahead if they remain dour all the time.  Sure, we’ve been thrown a few curve balls but we just have to keep walking forward because there’s nothing to be gained if you stop or inch backward.  That’s how I’m trying to look at things even though that’s not necessarily the direction I feel like looking at right about now.  It’s just hell on wheels.  Your uncle calls me most every day to give me the latest update.  It’s just not good and the news probably won’t get any better.  Your grandmother continues to lose weight and energy.  That’s not a very good recipe for health.  I’ve been hearing from friends, including my cousin in Oregon, Tom Andersen, to keep our collective chins up, so I’d expect both of you to do that and to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  Maybe that’s a way to connect to her.  I don’t know.  There is a strong chance she will be moved to the Veteran’s Administration home in Grand Island but that’s not wholly decided yet.  Even Tom’s dad (Henry), your grandmother’s brother in Portland, has his own hands full with declining health, too.  It’s just so sad to see.  He was such a vibrant, charismatic man.

Your uncle and I were talking about post-service plans for your grandmother just this day.  The service will be in Omaha at Dundee Presbyterian with internment next to your grandfather.  There seems to have been some small snafu with the literal grave site, as there is potential that the site next to your grandfather has been sold (as opposed to being in use).  Your uncle is looking into it.

It was a good diversion to know you both jetted out of town for the Labor Day weekend.  I never traveled that much when I was your age unless it was by car.  Maybe this is just a different time, but you guys fly so much you know all the airport protocols by heart and probably have hefty frequent flyer mile accounts.  Reid, NYC is the one town I miss but as you found you’ve got to have a bank account to make a go of it there.  But there’s no better spot for food or fun or anything else for that matter.  I really do miss it.  You can keep LA and Miami and Cleveland.  Nice spots, but there’s only one Big Apple.  Ellen, I literally laughed out loud when you said you were going to yet another wedding.  How much of your disposable income has gone to going to weddings?  You are the wedding queen of the central U.S.  I swear, your next job could be a gig at a wedding shop.  You’ve just had a lot of friends walk down the aisle.  Reid, I can’t recall a single friend of yours who has gotten hitched.  That’s okay, there’s time.

The Observer had headlines the other day about 30,000 layoffs at the bank.  We have an efficiency movement underway and apparently it will be very efficient.  I try not to think about what might happen and try to keep what’s left of my nose to the grindstone.  Whatever will be, will be.  Que sera, sera.  You can only get pounded over the head so much, and besides, I’ve already been down that road.  I think it shakes John’s cage a little since he’s got to try to help me piece a retirement situation together.  But at risk of jumping ahead too far too fast, let’s just take one step at a time.

Well, I’ll sign off for this time.  Keep the text messages coming, and I’ll keep the paper flowing your way.  Wish more of it could be green for you guys.

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Very far very fast…


Mom has lost her mobility and eyesight, but she has her moments of lucidness. This is a tough image for me to see, but our choice is to remember her as she was, not as she is.

For the second time in the space of 15 months, my brother and I are  renewing acquaintance with hospice.  Our mother went under hospice care late last week in a small facility in Wood River.  I can’t imagine mom ever envisioned that things would come to this in a declining small town of 1,204 hidden away in central Nebraska.

The question we ask ourselves is ‘when?’ but there is no certain answer.  I don’t want there to be.  All we know for sure is that she has slipped very far very fast.

If the situation is looked at only from quality of life standpoint then what will eventually happen will be merciful.  Mom is thankfully in no real pain, there is no known disease present beyond the numerous small strokes that have accumulated to bring her to this sorry stage of life.  She has simply no more gas in her tank.  Even so, I told Ellen and Reid on the phone and by letter that we don’t know what she is thinking but we know that she is thinking.  Her facial expressions – a nice smile or a knowing roll of her eyes – is evidence enough that she still processes a sizable portion of what she hears. My time with her last weekend was devoted to stroking her hair, talking to her about the old times when we were growing up as kids, and watching her green eyes.  There’s still some life there.  It’s just that we don’t know how much.

My brother and I have had pretty much the same muted reaction to the long goodbye.  It is some mixture of stoicism and relief (for her).  If mom has taught us yet another lesson, it is to get the most out of what we have left, too, but that when our own end stage of life arrives, neither of us wants anything dragged out.  If there is a plug to be pulled, the kids can kiss me on the forehead then yank the cord.

—————

August 30, 2011

Ellen/Reid: It was a pretty melancholy trip to Nebraska these last four days.  As you can imagine, it’s tough to watch your grandmother deteriorate over such a short span of time.  Everyone, and I got caught up in it too, tries the guessing game of how much longer she will be among us, but it’s not up to anyone beyond the higher source who will make that determination in due time.

Mom in late April of this year. I wasn't prepared for how quickly her condition had changed. This is the image I will keep.

I really wasn’t prepared for the difference between last spring and now.  She has just gone downhill so rapidly.  She’s not ambulatory in any way.  There is no more walking let alone sitting up without significant assistance.  But you know, she can look up at you with those green eyes and you can tell that she is absorbing information to the degree that she can.  I spent a lot of timing just looking into her eyes, stroking her hair, and watching for her reactions.  If you say something funny she’ll roll her eyes and maybe nod her head approvingly.  Sentences or a short string of words are tough to come by for her and at most she can get out a couple of labored ideas but you have to be listening attentively.  What warmed my heart was she distinctly asked “how are the little ones”, and when I gave her the updates about you two knuckleheads she would roll her eyes approvingly or smile.  That was incredible.  If I hear no other words from her, at least I have her final ones: “I love you” (along with “Drive safely”).  She can also give you a little kiss on the cheek, and before I left her room I made sure to get a couple of those.

She spends almost all her time by herself.  When the staff puts her in her wheelchair, they roll her out into the common room where the TV is attuned to whatever it is the staff wants to watch.  She can’t see far enough, let alone hear the TV, to make much of a difference.  But at least she’s out among ‘em and whatever that is worth is okay.  None of us really knows what is going through her mind, and perhaps she’s taking more away from “As The World Turns” or whatever soap or news program they have on, than we know.  I hope she is.

Your uncle and I have decided that when the time comes, hospice will come to her instead of her to it.  That’s how we did it with your grandfather last summer and that worked out just fine (given the circumstances).  She’s not in any particular pain or discomfort, other than the same prone position in bed or sitting in her wheelchair, so there’s not much necessary in terms of pain meds or anything of that order.  In some very major ways, that’s a blessing.  She does wince a bit when she wants to roll over or move, but that’s to be expected.  You’d do the same if you were in the same position 24/7.  Our layman’s view is that we seem to think she’s just running out of gas, pure and simple.  Like your grandfather, her appetite is mostly gone and they keep her going with a few sips of protein drink since she cannot feed herself or really chew solid food.  But she still has those green eyes and you can see something going on behind them.  She’s trying to hold her own and keep on keeping on as best she can.

When I left her Sunday afternoon, I wondered if this was the final goodbye.  I’m relatively at peace with things; her husband is gone, she’s incapacitated and she’s largely in no pain, she knows her kin have largely done okay and that her job as a parent is fulfilled in a good way.  I suppose what we should do is remember her as she was, not as she is.  There is no other way to approach it.  Life has taken its turn with her.  She’s had a good one and now is the time for it to end.  It was great that you both had a chance to say something in her ear on the phone.  She would respond and smile as you both took turns.   That’s when I knew I could leave her on good terms for the both of us.

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Enthusiasm tempered…


Pinedale's web cam shows plenty of snow on the back peaks - precisely where we are headed. Nothing like a July snowball fight.

Last week’s letter held a lot of anticipation about the trip to Wyoming; Ellen and Tim will both be there and the heavy snows in the backcountry appear to be melting.  It was all good.

But these have been a rough stretch of days for Felicia.  The deep seven inch gash on her calf continues to split open; she cannot hike.

The band of backpackers will forge ahead minus one.  It’s greatly distressing to me, but as the two of us have talked about, there’s always next year.  I was hoping there would be better news for this, my 200th post.  Better tidings will have to wait.

————-

July 11, 2011

Ellen/Reid: I don’t know that I can contain my excitement about the trip to Wyoming.  There hasn’t been this much anticipation since I don’t know when.  This is one of those trips where money is no object.  We could stay in the Ritz for a week and eat caviar and sip Dom Perignon for what has been dropped so far on this venture.  But that is of no consequence to me.  Too bad Sundance isn’t closer because I’d make the side trip to get the newspaper your grandfather used to work on, the Sundance Times and Crook County News.  Reid, you and I made a side trip years ago to the newspaper office when we were driving to Montana to fish.  When I’d ride to Sturgis, I’d always drop in to get a copy for your grandfather.  He often said it was the best job he ever had.  They sure loved that part of Wyoming.  Just think, if my mom’s doctor in Deadwood hadn’t told her that her delivery of your uncle and me would be difficult, I would’ve been born a South Dakotan.  That’s when your grandmother rode the train to Omaha where her mother lived.  The rest is, as they say, history.

But I digress.  Already the fidgeting about the meal menu has started.  I’m trying to steer people clear of non-perishable food.  I worry that with the increased bear sightings that anything that is overly odiferous will be cause for a grizzly or porcupine to stop by our campgrounds.  By default our cuisine will feature a lot of pasta and rice with exotic dried sauces you mix with water, plus the obligatory instant oatmeal for breakfast and energy bars.  I’ll also make a ton of gorp (peanuts, raisins, M&Ms) for each of us to tote on the trail.  All of the provisions, sans the sauces, will be purchased in Jackson.  Ellen, tell Tim that I will probably steer clear of dehydrated food because if it’s not hydrated properly, it takes it’s liquid from your body and that can stop people up.  Trust me, I know that very, very well through painful, clogged experience.  But that’s another story, too.  One of our members, a good guy, will cook his own food, and that’s okay.  Tell Tim, too, that he will be a meat fisherman for a change.  As far as can be determined, only he and I will have flyrods.  We will be highly dependent on Tim to advise us on the flies to us.  Another guy will have the rough equivalent of a bamboo pole.  The wife of the minister is a bonkers fisherwoman, too, and we may rent her a rod for the duration.  I am so excited.  Reid, you’ve been there before a few times, but it would’ve been great if you could’ve pulled up stakes in Chicago for a week to join us.  There will always be next year – hopefully.

Felicia just this morning reported bleeding from the seven inch gash in her leg.  It should have enough time to heal in the next 10 days or so, but we will still tote a fully-stocked first aid kit with enough bandages, tapes and medicines to fully supply a triage center.  That includes ample amounts of mole skin and a liquid that dries on the skin to prevent blisters.  New Skin, I think they call it.  I’ve told people to bring some Tevas in the event they get un-curable blisters.  Reid, you might recall the woman on an earlier trip who had quarter-sized blisters after the first of seven days and she pressed on thanks to her Tevas. 

One of the things I like most about a trip like this, and this goes back a few years with you and me in the Bridger, Reid, is that it’s a foundational thing to get you guys into the natural world.  Although we didn’t get as many chances to head for the hills when you were younger, it means a lot to me to introduce you to this sort of adventuring.  There’s nothing wrong with testing your mettle and sleeping on the cold, hard ground and eating dreary camp food every once in a while.  It’s good to help you develop an appreciation for this end of the environment.  At the rate we keep screwing it up, there may not be many more decades to enjoy it.

Okay, I’m down from the soap box.  But there are worse things to badger you about.

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