Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 17, 2015

Letting go feels good!

The first part of the summer unfolded fairly smoothly. I think I'd mark the beginning point as being when sister Gaila's daughter Larisa graduated from the University of Kansas. We had a great time celebrating with her and the rest of the family.

Then it was off to France and the United Kingdom for daughter Katie, husband Art and me. Art rather enjoys planning and, as usual, he sorted out the airline flights, car rentals and where we would be staying. Our trip was a nice combination of new sights, visiting friends and staying in familiar places.

But things sort of began going south for me on the second leg of our three-part return flight. It was delayed, causing us to miss the last one. Our planned 10 p.m. Thursday arrival at home turned into a 2 a.m. Friday affair. Much of Friday was spent sleeping. Saturday too was still somewhat of a foggy blur that ended with a slight sore throat when I crawled into bed.

I awoke in the early hours of Sunday with the worst sore throat I can recall. I had a headache and a temperature of 102. Yet while it wasn't pleasant, I figured I'd only have to tough it out a day or so and all would be well. Gaila was in Washington, D.C. visiting her daughter Gabriela for a few days so our annual summer reunion would not be impaired.

Yet Tuesday was more of the same. I asked Art about going to the doctor, but he said it was probably just a virus so there would be little he could do. I decided to go anyway. The verdict? It was a virus and there was nothing he could do!

Wednesday was even worse. The lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. My ears were hurting and I couldn't hear as well as normal.

When Gaila arrived Thursday, I kept my distance as I didn't want to expose her. But it was only two more days to our annual Fourth of July family reunion. For years, Art and I have done the meal and set off fireworks. How would we handle that? I was already a bit sad because Gabriela had to stay in Washington and Larisa had opted for a boating weekend with her boyfriend. Brother Dave and sister-in-law Linda were staying in Salina to be with their son Michael and family. Of course, the smaller number would mean less work.

Then Gaila surprised us by suggesting she would make the meal. She was a bit hesitant to propose it, concerned Art might feel as if his thunder were being stolen since he usually gets out the big grill and goes all out with hamburgers, brats and chicken. But when he heard, he asked me if I could arrange to be sick again next year!

I've usually gone with the girls to pick out the fireworks while Art was the one to set them off. This year, he just handed the kids a $100 bill and said, "Make sure I'm impressed!"

I was still feeling pretty puny that evening and kept my distance from everyone, but I really enjoyed the meal of ribs and various side dishes. Not having had to do much of anything was nice - although I did feel a bit guilty.

As for fireworks, the girls and Katie's boyfriend Matt took over. I wondered if Art felt a bit displaced from his normal role, but he just laughed. He said in past years, we had a lot more people and so, getting all the food ready at the same time had been enough of a challenge.

Still, there was a feeling that I was watching a changing of the guard.

Little did I know!

Daughter Mariya's birthday was on Friday, just six days later. I hadn't felt like doing anything for it. But after studying her birthday list, Art selected a camera kit and told Katie she should order it and he'd pay her back. I did buy a couple of mini "Star Wars" Legos sets and wrapped them and ordered an ice cream cake, but Art had to finish the cake decoration. Again, not being involved as usual made me feel bad, but my throat continued to give me fits, and I was happy to hand off some responsibilities.

Then Katie told me she and Matt were going to make Mariya's birthday meal. The night before, they made the chicken marinade. On the big day, Matt took over Art's usual place at the grill. Katie worked at the stove, boiling and then roasting potatoes and cooking fresh green beans. Even the birthday girl chipped in, getting out extra chairs, setting tables and preparing drinks for everyone. Larisa ran around helping and took photos of everything - another of my usual jobs. The whole event turned out great.

The next day, Gaila, Larisa and Dave drove to the family farm for the annual meeting with the renters. While I was feeling better, I decided it was best I stay home.

I was going to suggest we go out for supper when they returned, but Larisa took some frozen salmon from the freezer and made supper. Fabulous!

On Sunday, we met with a photographer at a local park for family pictures. Katie and Mariya arranged the whole thing.

As Art and I headed home after the photo shoot, I reflected on something I had said to Gaila a few days earlier: "Isn't it great that the next generation is starting to take over these affairs?"

Without missing a beat, she answered, "Thank God!"

Left: meat thermometer in hand, Matt grills chicken. He had to move from the back yard to the garage due to a passing shower; middle: Mariya, left, and Katie watch as one of their fireworks selections takes to the sky; right: Mariya, a big Harry Potter fan, had a Ravenclaw-themed birthday. Ravenclaw was one of the witchcraft houses in the books.

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