Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Lemons to Lemonade

 While we could never had anticipated that our first visit back to St. Louis following our move to North Carolina 11 months earlier would be to attend my sister's funeral, we decided to make the most out of a horrific situation. While the kids and my niece were still with us we ate our favorite local foods and on Friday the 18th visited the St. Louis Zoo as well as Forest Park. It was a beautiful day, and most people were socially responsible and wore masks even though we were outside. The masks were required by the zoo, but of course there was one family of four who didn't think the mandate applied to them. It took everything I had not to call them out on it. If they have health concerns that prohibit them from wearing a mask, then they sure as heck should not be out in a public place where they might catch something! Other than that, our visit was fun and uneventful.

St. Louis Zoo

Saturday morning we made a nice breakfast for everyone before Andy and Megan needed to leave for the airport. Then we took Katie and Sara downtown to see City Garden and the new museum under the Arch. We had a late lunch at Ballpark Village before we needed to take Sara to the airport.

downtown St. Louis

Sunday morning we had our last breakfast at the AirBNB, and then headed to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Advanced ticket purchases were required as they are limiting the number of people who can go in the garden. Katie, Jim and I had a wonderful time getting some exercise and admiring all the flowers. I have to say that one thing we miss in our part of North Carolina is all the flowering shrubs and flowers that were in abundance in St. Louis. We followed that with a late lunch before heading over to my friend Diane's house to unload the car as we were spending the next few days with her. We had a couple of hours to pass before Katie needed to be taken to the airport.

Missouri Botanical Garden
The remainder of our stay in St. Louis was spent visiting old friends. I was especially excited to be able to play pickleball with the two different groups of ladies I had played with for years. Jim was able to play with his friends as well, and even squeezed in a short motorcycle ride with his best friend.

The trip was bittersweet, and proved you can indeed go home again. But it's not the same, and helped to confirm that moving to our community in North Carolina was a great decision for us.

September sunset at home

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Saying Goodbye to My Sister

 My only sister Kathy died very unexpectedly of a massive heart attack on September 11th. She was only 76 - much too young to die. While I deeply regret that she was taken from us at such an early age, I will be forever grateful that as far as we know she did not suffer. 

There was no question regarding whether or not we would attend the funeral, COVID or no COVID. Jim and I drove from Mount Holly as far as Paducah, KY on September 15th. There we spent the night at my request. Kathy and I had always talked about going there to see the National Quilt Museum as quilting was a hobby we both shared. On the morning of September 16th, Jim and I went through the museum in Kathy's memory. How she would have loved to see the vast variety of quilting styles! While totally different from the way that she and I quilted, they were works of art to behold.

National Quilt Museum

The next morning we drove the last four hours to St. Louis. Of course we had to drive by our old house and check it out. It looks like the new owners are taking good care of it, though the large oak tree on the north side of the house has died of old age. That will be expensive to remove, and we were thankful that it wasn't an expense we would have to undertake. Then we went to our old grocery store to pick up provisions for a few days. I rented a two flat house in the south city area for our family of six adults. Our kids were coming into town that night, and my niece Sara flew in from Texas in the afternoon. I wanted all of us in the same spot so we could spend time together. It ended up working out very well as each flat had two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room.

Thursday the funeral home held a viewing for the family from 9-10 and then for friends from 10-12:30, with the funeral following at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 1:00. Up to that point, Kathy's death had seemed surreal. All that changed when faced with seeing her in a coffin. It was so hard to experience the grief of her husband and children while at the same time trying to get a handle on my own. I know our kids struggled as well since Kathy had been way more than an aunt to her. Our own mother died when Andy was only 4, so Kathy became a surrogate grandmother to him and later on to Katie as well.

The funeral was very personal as the priest knew Kathy well due to her attendance at Mass (even virtually when COVID hit) as well as her participation in the Daughters of Isabella (D of I) at the parish. Nearly everyone wore a mask in church, as they had in the funeral home, and we were spaced out in every other pew. Following the service the D of I ladies held a luncheon for the family in the Knights of Columbus hall. My sister was to be buried at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery since her husband had served in the Navy. But cemetery regulations right now are not allowing any graveside services, so we went back to the AirBNB after the luncheon. Several family members came over later, and we played a rousing game of Yahtzee in Kathy's memory. It was her favorite game, and she nearly always was the winner. It seemed a fitting end to a day filled with grief, tears, laughter and shared memories.

Kathy & me

Monday, September 14, 2020

Never Forget

 How ironic that I posted on September 11th about 9/11 and how we should never forget that date and it's importance to not only the United States but also the world. I now have an additional reason I will never forget. Friday afternoon my only sister died very unexpectedly. At 11 years older than me she was often a second mother to me as well as my big sister. Coming so close on the heels of losing both my beloved father-in-law and mother-in-law, this is such a heavy burden to bear. It really has not sunk in yet. As I do best in such times putting my feelings into a poem, below sums up my current state of mind.

Kathy Lane memorial

Saturday, September 5, 2020

North Carolina Phase 2.5

social distance
In an interesting turn of events, Governor Cooper of North Carolina made an announcement regarding Safer at Home a week earlier than the planned September 11th date. Effective at 5:00p.m. on Friday, September 4th, he moved the state from Phase 2 into Phase 2.5. The change allows indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 50. Playgrounds can reopen, museums and aquariums can open at 50% capacity, and fitness centers can open at 30% capacity. The other restrictions from Phase 2 remain in place, and wearing a mask in public is still required - mandatory in indoor spaces as well as outdoors when the 6' of social distancing cannot be maintained. Despite the grim COVID-19 statistics in North Carolina, it is felt that the numbers have stabilized enough to take another baby step forward. Time will tell...