Three years into the cancers that struck us both, we finally managed to get out of town. Away from hospitals, from radiation, from chemotherapy. Away from doctors.
It would be our best, most memorable week in a long while. Our first full-family reunion in 30 years.
We would fly from Clearwater to Milwaukee, then drive to the popular Wisconsin Dells area to meet with our entire family: our four sons, now married and scattered, with families of their own.
The eldest, now a Chief Petty Officer in the Coast Guard, came from Charleston, SC with his new wife that few had yet met. (She was a hit! Although the temptation to tease her about her New York accent overcame us all at times.)
^^ Frank and Carolyn with their four sons. ^^
Two came from Lake Geneva with their kids, and the fourth drove from Milwaukee with his wife and three daughters. Ten adults, nine kids, and a dog in all, the grandkids ranging in age from 18 to four weeks.
It took us a couple of hours to drive from Milwaukee to Adams. When we pulled up to our motel, the kids and their families were already there. There was hugging. Kissing. Pandemonium of the most delightful kind.
And finally, we all met in the middle of nowhere, a seven-acre heavily wooded area our second son and his wife had purchased nearby.
Here there is a special, indescribable feeling. It is at once so ancient, so primitive, but with modern conveniences. Our son and his family have put in roads, built a washhouse with laundry and shower, and set up a camper in the midst of the woods. Deer stroll by. Coyotes howl in the night.
On the bank of a stream that runs through the place, one evergreen stands above all the rest. It must be 200 years old. It will eventually cover our ashes. We knew we'd made the right decision just standing under its boughs.
We really hadn't had the opportunity to get to know the kids terribly well, even the older ones, as we are all so far apart. This weekend helped us all bond.
Our only regret was that we never did have the time to sit and talk with each family.
Each of our sons has visited us this past year to help with our health issues, but here were all the boys together. Of course, their kids are growing like weeds. It was a joy just to listen to all the chatter.
By the way, we now have something we said we'd never have: a Facebook page. The kids feed it text and photos.
Frank with his new granddaughter, Trinity Sue. >>>
It had been two years since we held a new baby, our youngest's first. That little one now has a brand new sister. Holding the tiny precious bundle brought back ancient memories of our four. Seems like forever ago. Were these strapping men ever so small?
You see, you really can go home again, and family is your most precious possession. We will treasure that all-too-short visit, and with a little bit of luck and finagling, will do it all again, next year.
Meanwhile, although we are both still in remission, we still suffer cognitive impairment from heavy doses of radiation. Chemo brain, they call it. Neither of us can write well. It's like we have holes in our brains.
Next week we begin an eight-week course, three days a week, to regain our memory "up to 131 percent" and our brainpower, cutting our brains' ages up to 10 years, six months. At least, that's what the doctors say.
Kaisers relaxing between
Both of us look forward to writing Suddenly Senior columns again. We will write as we're able, no doubt reporting along the way on our new, improved brains.
Thank you for your patience, your prayers, and your kind and cheerful e-mails. Suddenly Seniors must be the kindest people in the world.
© 2010 Frank Kaiser
WANT TO COMMENT ON THIS WEEK'S SUDDENLY SENIOR COLUMN?
GET SUDDENLY SENIOR EVERY WEEK. SIMPLY
TO CANCEL YOUR FREE SUDDENLY SENIOR E-MAIL,
LATEST GUEST COLUMNS!
The latest columns from our resident (retired) Drug Pusher, Tom Braun...
From Joe Klock
From Susan Pierres, Writer/Photographer:
From Joan Price:
Comment on this week's Suddenly Senior.
Write to Frank at email@example.com
“THE KAISER'S JOURNEY
A very personal look at the Kaiser's Health
Frank and Carolyn Kaiser have been to hell and back this last year, healthwise. But you can't keep a good man - or woman - down, as they say. They're very much alive and kicking - just kicking a little more slowly and carefully. [Ed]
RECENT GUEST COLUMNS
FEATURED GUEST COLUMNS BY OUR
You know folks; it's getting lonely under the bus these days.
After Congress threw us geezers under the bus by denying us any increase in our Social Security payments, this year I figured we might have a few of them to share the space with us, since they claimed they were doing the same by not taking the automatic pay raise they have handed themselves year in and year out.
As a young boy, I watched the Queen Elizabeth 2 being built on the River Clyde in Scotland, one of the last great ships to be built there. This week's story by Travel Editor Susan Pierres evokes the (almost) bygone age of ocean steamer crossings, as she tells of the joys of crossing the pond and back aboard the QE2. "Crossing takes us back to the truly civilized world of yesteryear, to an era of gracious lethargy, to courtly manners and conversation, to a sublime sense of peace and calm." [Ed.]
As Valentines day comes around once more, thoughts may turn to our love life ... or lack of it. Especially if you are on your own, through separation, divorce, death of a partner, or if you've always been single. Facing the prospect of growing old alone, with children grown up and gone, men and women are turning to online dating in the hope of meeting their perfect match.
What a quaint concept!
In this day of almost $3-a-gallon gas, imagine getting actual service, too. Today, it's as bizarre a notion to anyone under 40 as a gentleman's tipping his hat to a lady.
About 40 years ago, both were part of everyday life in America.
Are you Single and Looking? Good news!
Introducing SuddenlySeniorDating.com an online dating venue where Seniors can meet their match!
Now read by 3.1 million seniors at Websites and 85 newspapers from the St. Petersburg Times to the Mumbai India News.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE HELPFUL LINKS BELOW
PLANNING YOUR VACATION FOR 2010?
ACCORDING TO GOOGLE, SUDDENLY SENIOR’S TRAVEL PAGE IS AMONG THE MOST POPULAR IN THE WORLD. SEE WHY HERE!
THIS WEEK'S BEST SENIOR CARTOON
Want to comment on this week's Suddenly Senior column?
THIS WEEK'S BEST 222 SENIOR SITES
Frank Kaiser firstname.lastname@example.org
Suddenly Senior the nationally syndicated column read by 3.1-million over age 50 in 176 countries who've become senior way before their time.
SINCE 1999, AMERICA'S MOST TRUSTED SENIOR CITIZEN WEBSITE
"Kaiser's the perfect mix of Andy Rooney, Dave Barry, and Garrison Keillor, combining knee-slapping humor with useful information and genuine compassion." RETIRED.COM