Saturday, October 10, 2009

Memory lane

I try to avoid using superlatives when describing people, places, things and activities, my philosophy being that when I encounter something really worthy of a superlative I will have used them up on ordinary events. Our recent 10 day trip to the States was far from ordinary and deserves such words as marvelous and fantastic.
The visit began with my 50th high school reunion, held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Milwaukee. I had predicted to Maribel the reunion would be a bust, probably attended by only a handful of senile old codgers. How wrong I was! From a class of 486 there were about 150 of us, many with spouses, and everyone was physically fit and mentally sharp. Most of us didn’t recognize each other so spent the first few seconds of each encounter reading name tags, followed by a smile of recognition, hugging and handshakes.

What a rush to see and again be in contact with friends I hadn’t seen in 50 years – Richard, Bonnie, Miki, Dennis, Charlotte, Delbert, Judy and many more. Sadly but to be expected a number of our classmates have passed on, including my best friend during those years and my first girlfriend. The following day we had the opportunity to walk through the high school (Pulaski).The memories of this reunion are something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Next on our agenda was a visit to our former north woods home. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much in the past 14 months. Many of the folks we knew were not at home, though we did get to visit with our friend Shannon both at her home and later at Maribel’s “favorite restaurant in the world”, Shaffer Park Resort. I’ve been a regular at this restaurant for over 40 years and Maribel during the 2 years we lived together in the area. We both agree that nobody does chicken or fish like Shaffer’s, and that includes both the US and Peru. Give them a try if you’re in the area -

Visiting our family again (Maribel insists they’re her family too) was comforting. We based out of my (opps…our) sister’s home, which we affectionately refer to as Joyce’s Hotel and Restaurant. How she puts up with us I don’t understand. With the rest of the family we visited parks where we walked and threw a football, visited their homes, and got together at a restaurant to talk and celebrate Maribel’s birthday. It was interesting to see the change in the grandchildren. They’re growing up fast. Now if only we could get them to visit Peru!

We celebrated Maribel’s birthday in at least 4 different settings, including Shaffer Park with Shannon, TGI Friday with Joyce, the Open Flame restaurant with family, and at the home of our friends Fredy and Elaine. Also there were Michael and Maya, Dennis and Martha, and Joyce….five gringos and four Peruvians. A couple of times during the evening I found myself chuckling about needing to go to Milwaukee to visit Peruvian friends. Must have been the wine.

Somewhere around day 8 of our stay I became aware that I was having thoughts of home in Peru. I mentioned it to Joyce, who replied…”It looks like we’ve lost you.” Not correct Joyce. Wisconsin, friends and family will always be in my heart and mind. But so are the incredible (another earned superlative) people, places and things of Peru. I truly have the best of two worlds.


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