Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A look back: June 16-18, 2018

Last year, the second half of the month of June was a very eventful one in our family—and not all those events were happy ones.  I am writing this recollection now for future reference.

Saturday, June 16:  Today my daughter Katherine, her boyfriend Nathan, and I began a trip to Northfield, MA, to deliver Katherine to Camp Northfield, where she was to serve for the next several weeks.  Due to the nearly 2,000-mile round trip and the three-day time frame, Nathan was invited to join me to help with the driving.  I let Katherine drive the opening leg of the journey.  Nathan looked very nervous in construction zones.

This first day took us all the way to my parents' home in Highspire, PA.  The trip was relatively smooth, and after a very yummy dinner and pleasant evening, Katherine stayed the night there while Nathan and I drove out to my uncle's house to spend the night there.  We stayed up and talked for awhile, then retired.

Funny story:  I explained to Nathan while we were on the road how my mother likes corn but not peas, while my father likes peas but not corn.  Consequently, formal meals commonly include both peas and corn.  Which is precisely what happened that evening.

Sunday, June 17:  We picked up Katherine and her stuff and attended the early service and Sunday school at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mechanicsburg.  I had been there two weeks earlier (part of a work trip to a convention in Lancaster), so I was almost becoming a regular visitor.  We then left directly from there and drove to the camp in Massachusetts, arriving around suppertime.  Aside from the camp director and his family, there was nobody around, so we crossed the very-close-by state line and drove to a Friendly's restaurant in Keene, NH, about 20 minutes away.  We also fueled the car and picked up the next morning's breakfast.

Upon arriving back at the camp, we settled in and then played with some of the games in their main hall.  Then my wife called.  I stepped outside (cell service in the area was weak) and was informed that the doctors informed my mother-in-law that her cancer was beyond control and that her time on earth was approaching a close.  I did not tell Katherine the entire grim news but let her know that things were getting worse.  I privately informed the camp director that there would be a possibility that Katherine might need to spend some time with family later in the summer, so that he would not be surprised.

Nathan and I slept in a room from whose windows we could see three states: MA, VT, and NH (through the trees).  The northern boundary of the camp is literally on the state line with NH.  Those hills in the distance are Vermont.

Monday, June 18:  To the best of my knowledge, I have never traversed so many miles in a car in any single day of my life, as Nathan and I drove all the way back to Taylors, SC, from the camp.

We left before 7:00.  Within minutes we were on the interstate and before we were to the next exit, Nathan opened his mouth and asked if he could marry Katherine.  (I suspected this possibility all along but didn't expect it quite so early in the morning.)  I told him that, as a courtesy to my wife, I should discuss it with her before giving a formal answer, but that we anticipated the question.  We had a lengthy discussion of important topics and—without Katherine's knowledge—set her wedding date for the following May 11.  The first four hours of the trip passed quite quickly.

We traveled around 950 miles that day with only four stops, changing drivers each time.  We got gas again near Scranton, stopped in Carlisle to eat lunch with my brother Peter at a Firehouse Subs, gassed up again somewhere in VA, and then ate an evening meal (if I remember correctly) at the Arby's at Exit 98 on I-81.  The conversation waned through the day, but we made good time and had few traffic issues.  By the time we got to SC, we were listening to CD's of stories Nathan had recorded.

Part of the reason the conversation waned was that I was feeling an increasingly intense pain in the lower-left part of my jaw as the day continued.  I had brought some ibuprofen (or was it acetaminophen?) and started taking them.  I had something similar in my jaw a few months earlier, but after several days and some pills it went away.  I was hopeful this would go away just as easily.  It wouldn't.

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