Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘family

Outliving Dad

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The reason I easily remember the last time I saw my father alive is that it was my wedding day on September 19, 1981. Forty years ago, October 2nd was a Friday. Just out of college with a degree in education, Cyndie had unexpectedly nabbed a job with the Edina Police Department and I had yet to find employment. That Friday, on our first week home after our honeymoon, she was on a ride-along with a patrol officer.

I was home alone for the first time since we’d been married and the guys at the station found it humorous at first when I needed to contact her in the middle of the shift.

“Is it an emergency?”

“Well, sort of.” I was in a state of shock over having received the news in a phone call from my younger brother. “My dad died.”

Cyndie came home early from that ride-along shift.

Myocardial Infarction. My dad was 62.

On October 2nd, 2021, I am 62, a fact that seems to mean more to my doctor than me when it comes to my ultimate longevity. But I can’t deny a certain level of awareness about reaching this milestone.

I’ve spent the last forty years navigating being married, working a technical career, and raising children without my dad available for advice or guidance. Now I will embark on the rest of my life journey without having had his example of being an old Hays man.

After Cyndie and I returned from honeymooning up in the woods on the North Shore of Lake Superior, with a stop in Hayward for a couple of nights on the way home, we were taking our very first steps navigating life together in an unfamiliar rented duplex on Cedar Avenue near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.

A few days into our first week, it occurred to me that I should pay a visit to my parents before my dad took off for his weekend jaunt “to the lake.” The little fishing cottage on the north shore of Lake Mille Lacs was his version of heaven, I think, or simply a place he could go to be away from, well, the rest of what he found depressing at home.

It was Thursday afternoon and Mom said, “You just missed him.” He got a jump ahead of weekend traffic leaving on a Thursday. I would never see my dad again.

The story I was told is that it appeared as if he had pulled the bedcovers back, sat down on the edge of the bed, and fell back, dead.

This was six months after an initial heart attack that he described to me from his hospital bed as being “a pain I would never wish upon my worst enemy.”

That description helped inspire me beyond merely not wanting to be a depressed alcoholic like him, but not wanting to develop that classic beer belly and clog my arteries with an unhealthy diet. My doctor thinks that still might not be enough. He worries about my genes.

Other than having my older brother, Elliott for a sibling reference, I am now in uncharted territory.

I hope you are taking good care of your ticker, E.

Mine is just a little uneasy today over all the remembering. I expect its got plenty of mileage left, though. I work to keep my heart filled with plenty of love, both coming in and going out.

Thanks, Ralph, for everything you have taught me, in life and in your sudden death forty years ago today.

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Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2021 at 6:58 am

Brilliant Day

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The weather yesterday was perfect for a September outdoor event. A lot like the day 40-years ago today when Cyndie and I were married in a garden on the shore of Lake Minnetonka. Blue skies, warm sunshine, and tree leaves turning colors right before our eyes.

I took Delilah for a walk in anticipation of the arrival of Hays family visitors and paused on the first hill of our driveway to enjoy the fresh breeze and take in the panoramic view of the horses peacefully grazing in the hayfield. The beginnings of the rainbow of fall colors are noticeable along the horizon.

Throughout the day of visiting and gorging on delicious food, we took time for walks in the woods and visits with the horses. The herd is growing more welcoming of human presence and they all made very obvious movements to approach us as we arrived near the areas they were grazing.

I had turned off the electric fence for the day to remove that concern while larger numbers of people come around, but that change is a little confusing for the horses. We try to have our greetings happen at one of the gates to give the horses consistency but the spontaneity of yesterday’s connections had us at unusual locations along the fenceline.

At one point, a group of us made our way up to the barn overhang, hoping the horses might follow along, despite them being over the rise on the far side of the hayfield. Initially, only Light decided to make the journey back and she was rewarded with some hand-offered treats.

After a time, Mia came into view as she returned as far as the waterer before deciding to reverse direction and head back out. The two chestnuts looked as though the distance of separation between them and the other two horses was something they preferred to minimize.

Their bond with each other is still stronger than any bond with us humans.

The bond with my family is as strong as ever and we enjoyed catching up on a few details and comparing experiences and perspectives. We share a lot of traits and laughed over how much our lives and behaviors tend to resemble our parents.

After the first couple had departed, we realized our neglect in capturing a group portrait. By the end of the day, we never got around to posing for any specific group pictures. I guess we will need to get together again soon so we can make up for that oversight.

The only picture I took included the spread of scrumptious delights available for human grazing presented on the center island of the kitchen.

Today, we hop from one family gathering to another as this day of Cyndie’s and my wedding anniversary is also the day of Julian’s birth. Cyndie’s mom and brother will be joining us for a brunch date in St. Paul at Holman’s Table in a renovated control tower of St. Paul’s downtown airport to celebrate the occasions.

Happy birthday, Julian!

Happy September 19th, everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2021 at 8:24 am

Dancing Cranes

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Cyndie is home again! She received a wonderful greeting from Delilah, got ignored by Pequenita, adored by me, and most surprising of all, warmly loved by all the horses. She said they were all behaving like the four Arabians we used to have, showing that same desire to receive attention from her.

On Friday morning, she was cleaning the waterer and heard the sound of horses snoring.

We can’t remember the last time we saw them lay down for naps while either of us was around. The serenity didn’t last for long, though.

Two sandhill cranes made an appearance in the hayfield. The trumpeting vibrato trills of sandhill cranes have been reverberating for weeks from a dry creek bed beyond our trees in a neighboring field. Yesterday, they showed up in plain sight and grabbed the attention of the horses.

Cyndie recorded from a vantage point where she could capture both the horses and the two posturing, squawking cranes. Wait for their hopping around toward the end…

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Today, we host a gathering of some of my family. Siblings and kid cousins will be here for a long-overdue get-together.

We will probably remind the horses of the sandhill cranes, but without the dancing.

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Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

Wild Sky

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The sky was alive with energy last night when I took Delilah out for her evening walk.

It feels like that energy is going every which way.

Delilah’s energy was a little off-kilter when I decided to take her out. Cyndie left yesterday for a trip with her mother to visit Barry and Carlos in Boston and Maine for a week. Cyndie had been gone for under a couple of hours when Delilah started waiting at the door to the garage for her return.

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It’s going to be a long week if she keeps up with this perseveration.

Of course, after about six days, I will be joining her at the door, similarly pining for Cyndie’s eventual return.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Rewarding Accomplishments

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On a weekend when we squeezed in two evening trips to the Cities for wonderful social occasions and a surprise visit from sister, Judy, and husband, Scott, Cyndie and I also knocked off mowing and trimming the entire labyrinth of some tall growth. Our growing ground cover has made efficient use of the rain we received last week. The lawn grass is so long already, I need to mow again less than a week after I just finished the whole property.

I took a panoramic photo into the sun to show the freshly coifed labyrinth with the adjacent gazebo and its barely alive vines for a roof cover.

We also made short work yesterday of an inspiration I had to open up a new footpath through an untraveled section of our woods. Untraveled by us, that is. We chose to route it primarily along an obvious path traversed by deer often enough that our eyes were able to discern where they have been walking.

Of course, being deer, they seem to magically navigate through downed or low-hanging branches that entangle us. A bit of pruning and sawing provided quick reward and suddenly we had a whole new shortcut between two existing trails.

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We were so pleased with it, we sauntered back and forth along the new route multiple times, just to enjoy the experience.

It was very rewarding to get two projects off the to-do list, even though one of them had just been spontaneously added the day before. Accomplished, nonetheless.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Rain Coming

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Looks like the morning will be a wet one for us. Weather radar indicates a decent-sized band of precipitation closing in on our location in Hayward, WI.

The blue marker that looks like it is pointing at Red Wing indicates our home, approximately between River Falls and Red Wing.

I’m ready to hunker down and be an indoor couch potato for a few hours. Cyndie wants to play the local version of Monopoly board game she found in town this week: Hayward-opoly. The properties are local businesses like our favorite Coop’s Pizza and West’s Dairy.

I’d rather find sports on the television. Aren’t there some Olympic games finishing up this weekend?

Before we know it, there will be a break in the clouds and everyone will hit the beach.

I will be plenty ready for that.

Did you notice there was a bird in that image above? I hadn’t noticed it when I was rushing to capture the sun rays as they changed by the second. After looking at it a few times on my computer screen, I wondered if it was actually an insect that was close to the phone instead of a magnificent high-soaring bird of prey up near the cloud.

Perception is everything.

Happy first Saturday in August everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2021 at 8:57 am

Nothing, Really

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Nothing. But that didn’t stop me from trying. This is what I think happened. I drove home from the lake alone, leaving shortly after I woke up. Upon my arrival, Cyndie served a delicious slice of quiche for a brunch meal. After unpacking my things, I just wanted to relax. I turned on some of the Olympic coverage and let sleep nibble at the edges of my consciousness.

The nibbling failed to become a complete bite and I squandered the rest of the afternoon and evening accomplishing very little of productive value. Not even a respectable nap.

I think it was a result of getting too little sleep the two nights prior, compounded by going out two days in a row to tax my lungs in the smoky air by biking to exertion. That resulted in sleep deprivation and lung congestion that left me uncharacteristically lethargic.

Left me with nothing, really.

This week’s adventures should be much more interesting. I will be home alone because Cyndie is taking Melissa and her two girls up to the lake for their annual summer getaway week at Wildwood. She is taking Delilah with her, so that will simplify my responsibilities here significantly.

No dog and no chickens. It’ll just be the horses, Pequenita, and me. And hopefully, a lot less smoke in the air.

Wouldn’t that be something?

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2021 at 6:00 am

Orange Spots

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The smoke from Canadian forest fires played havoc on both breathing and visibility yesterday. It also led to orange spots on the land.

Cyndie provided these wonderful shots of the way the sunlight looked as it speckled its way through leafy branches to reach the ground below:

I’m up at the lake for the annual “Golf Weekend” hosted by Cyndie’s brothers, Steve and Ben. I don’t golf, but I provide bicycling companionship to any of the guys who opt out of the afternoon tee times to do some trail riding in the woods.

We are hoping for less smoke today, even though it can make interesting design patterns when it filters the sunlight.

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Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2021 at 6:00 am

Empty Coop

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It wasn’t long ago that we were renovating the coop in preparation for housing the two groups of chicks at the same time when we moved them out of their respective brooders.

Now the coop stands empty. On Sunday, my brother and his wife stopped by to pick up the three survivors of the massacre that took out 22 chickens.

The ghost predators that have been taking advantage of us for several months will not find one more chicken dinner here this year. Maybe that will provide incentive for them to move on to some other property.

We will take a year off to mull over the possibility of trying again. At this point, it feels like our methods will need to involve something less than free-ranging given the increasing priority of not experiencing any more losses like we’ve endured this year.

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2021 at 6:00 am

Getting Away

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We have made a quick change of scene, which comes at a convenient time to allow our minds to stray from the heavy angst associated with Wednesday’s violent upheaval in all things chicken-related.

Yesterday, Cyndie’s mom drove out to our place and the moment I arrived home from work, the three of us packed up Marie’s car and headed up to the lake.

We picked up a take-n-bake pizza from Coop’s that tasted more scrumptious than ever and turned on the replay of the 17th stage of the Tour de France on the satellite TV.

It served as a balm for my wounded psyche.

Festivities for today involve a visit from special guests. The Wilkuses are flying to the Hayward airport from their cabin near Grand Rapids, MN. How fun is that?!

Primary objective: Swim in the lake. Followed closely by eating too much fun food, gabbing away for hours on end, and probably one more dip in the lake, just because it’s there.

We’ll try to pretend this getaway keeps us from thinking about the loss of almost all of our chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2021 at 6:00 am