Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sniff and Cough, Repeat if Necessary

It's Halloween evening, and the only thing we Kendalls are afraid of are the litany of bugs that have raided our bodies - sending shivers down to our cold toes and a gooey, ugly flow trickling from our noses.

We're sick - thanks to Dad. Seems like I carried a tiny seasonal cold home with me this past week, and the troops held out as long as they could - fighting a valiant battle as my own sneezes and coughs set-up a formidable offensive. Elise was the first to crumble, unable to maintain a strong resistance. Poor thing. It's always the youngest who suffer first.

Wyatt has taken his own tumble, too - perhaps because the sister he insists on tackling and badgering began coughing on him as her lone defense. So, for two days now, Wyatt has been carrying around his little green, blue and white blanket as the world's largest Kleenex - incessantly wiping his nose so that he looks something like Rudolph ... a completely unintended costume.

Anna - so far - has managed to weather the storm, mostly by injecting herself with Zicam and keeping her distance. Actually, I don't know how she isn't yet sick, not when both of our children have repeatedly expelled their viral spray all over Anna's cereal bowl. At this rate, Anna is going to hold out longer than Leningrad during the Germ-an onslaught. Amazing.

Although, she just told me that the real test will come tomorrow when she rises early for her Monday swim. That alone will tell if she is truly well.

As a result of our combined colds, there was no ArtAttack at DePauw this year. That marks two years in a row we've missed this great community event for kids because of illness. Maybe next year.

Hope you're well,


Monday, October 25, 2010

clarence arthur cooper, jr

A few weeks ago, we lost a dear member of our already small family: Papaw. It was difficult for a number of was sudden, we were in the habit of seeing him pretty regularly, and my paternal grandmother had already passed three years ago, so Papaw had carried many memories of them both for us. He had such a sweet spirit, and was a wonderful example to me of what it meant to accept people without judgement of them or their circumstances. After the funeral, I was able to spend some time by myself at his house, attending to the details of that place, soaking them up. That was the beginning of the healing for me...found on Papaw's desk was a scrap of paper with three words in his handwriting: "love you Anna" -- practicing, perhaps, for a birthday card. That piece of paper now hangs above my own desk...and the healing continues.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wild Men

It's Sunday evening. Wyatt and Elise have wound themselves down into rest. The week's laundry tumbles noisily in the dryer, and for the first time in my life, I'm preparing to watch Jeremiah Johnson in its entirety. Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.

This classic "mountain man" movie has long been one of my dad's favorites, so to have waited this long is surely a sin of omission on my part - forsaking that particular Sinai commandment about honoring your parents.

"The mountain man is a lonely man, and he leaves a life behind."

Of course, I have already seen this movie - just with another title and in a different era. I've seen it as "Into the Wild." I've seen it as "Dances With Wolves." It's the ancient American tale about finding yourself by encountering a less cultivated world.

My dad and I love these movies, and in our own ways we seek to follow the wisdom and counsel of such tales. My dad is a gamesman and a hunter, so his ventures into the wild have included everything from the seasonal fall trips into the Indiana woodlands to hunt deer to trips to the great American plains and into the vast expanse of Canada to hunt bear, moose, and antelope. I'm not a hunter - at least not yet - so most of my plunges into the wild have come through hiking and camping trips. And it comes now by living out in the country where I can spend my Sunday afternoons walking through the woods with the kids.

About five years ago, though, my dad arranged for a trip that would allow us to both step away from that maddening world and enter into the wildness of nature together. We went fishing up in Baldwin, Michigan - paddling down the Pere Marquette with a guide to fish for salmon running up stream to spawn one last time before the next generation began their cycle of life.

It was a great trip, and so I was excited and grateful that we were to make the trip again this year - a trip we just over a week ago. This time we had more company - some friends of my father as well as my brother-in-law, Kyle. Plus, my dad and his buddies had found a community up at a campsite where we stayed this time.

So, in reality, there really isn't all that much "wildness" in our fishing trips - unless you include the wildness that comes from old men drinking alcohol with nothing but time to tell old stories. Even our fishing was spent mostly in chatter with each other and with our guides. Still, there was enough of the wild to refresh me. It only takes a little.

LIke I said, that was over a week ago. I returned from the trip on Saturday evening, and on Sunday afternoon Anna's mom called with sad, sad news. Art Cooper died. Papaw: Anna's paternal grandfather.

I believe Anna is planning to say more about this kind, loving man and how much he meant to us, so I will not say much more. I will only say that we've been in the throes of grieving - the ups and downs of pain and fond memories. I am always amazed at how taxing is the work of grief, how hollow you can feel after losing someone you love.

This last week has been hard and long. But, it's made me thankful for the time I do have with loved ones - and particularly thankful for my old man.