Dawny and I have been visiting my big brother and his family in Pennsylvania. It’s been fun showing off our little house to them and relaxing over good meals and lovely visits. Dawny has been treated to some terrific doggie walks and has fallen in love with my brother and his cooking–she got grilled salmon skin one night!
My brother escorted us to Gettysburg one day and we spent hours strolling around the battlefields and perusing monuments. Long an avid Civil War buff, he provided vivid descriptions of the history, the people, the battles. We encountered a gentleman on Cemetery Ridge where Pickett’s charge took place who had a small display, including photographs of a reunion on the 50th anniversary of the battle. In 1913, 60,000 veterans from Gettysburg returned. Blue and Gray. Old antagonisms and griefs were buried by their most basic, common bond: soldiers, brothers, Americans all.
While being welcomed, entertained, and spoiled, I’ve been able to quietly observe and celebrate my brother and sister-in-law’s post-retirement lifestyle. They are great examples of staying connected, active, and productive. They travel to interesting places when the mood strikes. They have two wonderful children, both married, who live close by. And they are blessed with a grandson that they get to see and enjoy often. This sweet little charmer even graced me with a little kiss–a special gift that I will be able to pull out of my memory-pocket anytime I need to lift my spirits.
Both my brother and his wife volunteer at a variety of places, using their expertise from their working years, as well as their interests and passions, to make their corner of the world a better place. Between the two of them, they are helping with pet adoptions, working at a historical library, assisting ill people with paperwork, and serving as a volunteer ombudsman at a group home. All of this is in addition to taking care of their grandson two days a week. My sister-in-law has Fridays open, but does she sit back and kick her feet up? Noooo… she is trying to find another volunteer opportunity to fill that day.
This is a wonderful time for my brother and sister-in-law, and I hope it lasts for many, many years. That their health stays strong, their family loving and safe, and their home warm and secure. I hope their children and grandchildren appreciate the solid foundation passed along to them, enriching their own years and families, and that they pass the love along with generosity and grace.
When I first arrived, I was asked a couple of times what my favorite place has been that I have visited so far. I was at an unexpected loss for an answer. Don’t get me wrong–I love what I am doing and do not regret my choice of vagabond lifestyle for a moment. But now, near the end of my visit, I can easily say this has been my favorite spot, where my little house on wheels met my brother’s sticks and bricks.
Home is where the heart is, and as I continue down the road, my home and my heart are warm and full.
(Photo of the fields at Pickett’s charge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.)