It's been quite the week.
It started last Saturday with an unexpected arrival at the airport's international gate.
My sister Annie arrived home. She is a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. She left for Africa last October, with lots of sadness and unknowns for all of us. When we said goodbye, we thought we were saying goodbye for two and a half years. We never anticipated seeing her now. But things happen. Out of the blue.
Although Annie's experience in the Peace Corps so far has been an adventure of a lifetime, it has also been hard for her to be in Rwanda these last few months, with family sadness pulling her here. First my uncle passing away in March. And now, our Grandfather recently entering Hospice care. The end looked close for him, and it was a lot for Annie to face by herself, nearly 8,000 miles away. So, with the approval of the Peace Corps, she made arrangements to fly home. Annie needed to be with Grandpa, and with all of us. And we needed her too.
It really was a brave thing to do. But as Annie said, she knew she'd never regret it. Never.
What an amazing gift for all of us. I can't begin to describe how excited we were to greet her last Saturday morning. We waited and waited at the airport, for what felt like an eternity. "This is taking too long," Anna said a half dozen times.....
And then suddenly Annie was right there in front of us. Out of the blue.
Despite being away for nearly nine months, it was like she never left. Some things - the good things - well they just don't change.
After picking Annie up at the airport, we drove straight to Grandpa's house. And we were all privileged to see this moment.
Grandpa knew Annie immediately. He took one look and he cried. "Oh my dear Annie," he said "I thought I'd never see you again. And here you are in my arms.""
There wasn't a dry eye in the house. It was one of those moments none of us will forget....
So Annie is here with us for nearly two weeks before she returns to Rwanda. Obviously, we're taking advantage of every moment!
And, the truly amazing thing is Grandpa himself. With all of this love surrounding him, with people visiting from near and far every day, Grandpa has bounced back to nearly his old self. Sharp as a tack and strong as an ox. I guess when you are advancing towards your 102nd birthday....well, you do things in your own time.
Wonderfully, he is as happy as I've seen him in awhile....
So happy that he hosted a little party yesterday. Grandpa invited everyone to join him at the local bakery Friday morning. 8:00 a.m. sharp. "How much coffee can I buy for $20?" he asked.
So, there we were Friday morning at Lau's Bakery on Main Street. This is small town at it's best!
When you walk through the front door of the bakery, you step back forty years. It's a pretty safe bet that wi-fi isn't available here. And really, who needs it. What could the Internet tell these guys that they don't already know.....certainly nothing important, anyway.
This place has character to no end. Shiny white laminate counter tops. Daily lunch specials up on the chalkboard. An endless cup of coffee.
Really? Who can resist a red and silver swivel stool? Obviously not Henry....
And oh my, the pastries and doughnuts and bread. Made fresh every morning. Right here. Too many to choose from.
It was a good morning.....
But despite the coffee and treats, the highlight of the morning was having this time with Grandpa. Two weeks ago, we would have NEVER imagined this.
Just before I took the picture above, Grandpa did a little two-step. "How about a little dance," he told Anna. Indeed, a reason to celebrate.
Everyone was glad to see the man of the hour at the bakery. They all know him well.
So, with the warm morning sun streaming in the windows, we just sat around, shooting the breeze.....
There was talk about the unusually cold and wet spring. Predictions about when the farmer's will finally get their crops in. Discussions about kids and trips and building projects. Conversations about nothing. And about everything. All at the same time.
It really didn't matter what we talked about. It was just about being together. Four generations enjoying sprinkles and custard filled pastries and fresh brewed coffee and our lives. Together.
These days, time feels more precious than ever, and we know it. Hugs last a little longer. Words are carefully chosen and full of meaning. Visits are frequent. It's borrowed time, really. With Annie and with Grandpa. And we'll make the most of it.
It was fitting to share a cup of coffee together in this place. The local coffee shop. Just the right spot to celebrate. Honest conversations. Real life. Sugar and flour. No pretense. Nothing for show. Just the familiar and the everyday. The good stuff happens here.
And, a mom's gotta love a place with stacks of coloring books and crayons under the counter. Clearly my little ones were not the first kids, filled with sugary doughnuts who were in need of a little focused diversion, while the adults finished the last of their coffee.
What a great way to start the day. And what a great way to end the week. Unexpected surprises and joys. Out of the blue....
So, while the next generation sits and contemplates how to solve the problems of the world....
....Grandpa maintains his seat at the head of the table.
Everything is just as it should be. And we won't take a moment of it for granted!