Friday, July 14, 2006


The trip started on an ominous note. We were spending the night at a motel. Emma got up early to work out. The exercise machine she was using in the motel came apart and hit her right between the eyes, stunning her and knocking her back. She refused immediate medical treatment and we drove off, with one of the boys driving her car so she could sleep. By the next day she had a bad headache, and we decided to rest a day. We called the motel but they said they weren't responsible since Emma had initially refused treatment. Luckily she came out okay after a few days. I wanted to sue them but everyone thought it would be too much trouble.

Actually coming back to the Bay Area was kind of strange. We came through the East Bay, then across 92 and the Bay Bridge to Skyline. The drive went from very built-up to rural. The air was quite dry and had the familiar smell of Eucalyptus. Everything seemed very arid compared to Montana. It felt great to be back in California. As we entered the driveway I noticed that much of the grass was about three feet long. We had hired a gardener in our absence but I guess he had decided that he only had to trim a small part of the lawn. It was prophetic - happily we had just traded the landlord problems of Montana for the everyday problems of running a household. In this case, Don mowed the lawn and that was the end of it.

Another everyday problem surfaced when we opened the front door. The tenants had, without asking, painted the interior walls. They actually did a good job, although some of the color choices made Jane cry. Worst, the hall was lime green and one of the walls in our bedroom was orange. When we had time, we had those walls repainted. We also found that a bunch of mice had moved in. We just called an exterminator, and soon we had the house to ourselves. Don and Barb chipped in and helped us move everything in and get comfortable. In the end, it felt good to be home.

One of the first things we did was have one of our traditional crab boils. Some friends of ours took care of the cooking. We only invited family - my brother's and Jane's twin sister's. It amounted to over twenty people. They wheeled me out to the edge of our backyard so I could look down into the Nature Preserve that adjoins our property. It brought back a lot of memories because I used to go there early in the morning, drink coffee and watch the deer play. When the fingers of fog drift in it's pretty spectacular. Right now, most days a family of deer likes to forage for acorns under our big oak tree, which frames the view of the valley below. The antlers silohuetted against the fog at sunset still take my breathe away.

One of our biggest fears was also allayed soon thereafter. In Montana, my brother had always made sure I got excellent medical care, and we didn't have such connections in California. However, the rehabilitation doctor was excellent - just as good as the one in Montana, whom we had really liked. So was my primary care physician - and he really took a real interest in me.

It was also nice to see friendly faces again - people who knew me before the stroke. They recognized me for who I was and made me feel human. Coming home was harder on Jane - seeing all of the places we had shared so many memories was painful for her. The kids were mixed - Steve and Mike had good friends in Montana, Nick was indifferent, and Mikala was philosophical - she said no matter where she was she would miss the people she wasn't with, and enjoy the people she WAS with. She always bloomed where she was planted, so we didn't worry about her.

The boys quickly went nuts with cars. Nick bought a nice used Nissan, and Steve bought two more Honda's - real junkers, and decorated our driveway with them. We consoled ourselves with the thought that at least the old cars gave them something to do and kept them nearby and out of trouble. They also worked on projects I had started before my stroke and generally calmed down when surrounded by old friends and familiar places. Mike went through an adjustment period but soon fit right in. Mikala never missed a beat. Our old world was coming back together. . .


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