It has been quite an up and down month. I looked forward to many visits from family and friends, but in the midst of all the anticipation of seeing loved ones, dear Michael passed away on July 19th. He passed away 5 days before turning 96. What a great life he had. Yet I am still in shock, because I talked to him, as usual, the night before he passed away, and he sounded so good and strong. Said he thought he could make it to 100. I was so encouraged by his attitude. Of course, I agreed with him. Only to lose him the next day. It is a relief to know he went quickly. But such an emptiness I feel now. For 7 years he called me every night and we talked about 1/2 hour. Then each Friday we went out to lunch in the 'burbs. In the fall, we spent two weeks up in Door County, and in the Spring we did the same thing. It was wonderful. I am so grateful I had this time with Michael. I've known him since I was 16, and then I married into Jack's family - which included Michael. The last 7 years, after Betty passed away, I have been privileged to get to know him much better. Rest in peace, Michael. You are missed.
The happy news is Britney and DJ's visit. Britney wanted to show her dear husband "her Chicago" which included a stop at the Land. Lucky for me! It was so great to see them! D J, whom I feel is really a "country" boy, loved the Land. (Which of course endeared him to me, all the more!) He fished and fished almost the entire day. Caught over 20 fish, in addition to losing about 10 big fish. DJ only had a 6 lb line, which broke whenever he would try to pull the fish into the boat. Finally, after dark, he caught the biggest bass he has ever caught, right off the shore. That's a big grin on his face. He was so elated!
Britney and DJ walked around the Land, took the Gator for a ride around the Land, relaxed in the screen house and spent plenty of time in the jon boat. The day went quickly, the next morning went quickly - and all too soon they were on their way to Chicago. I miss their cheery faces! I hope DJ figures out a way to visit the Land during the summer when Britney is on summer vacation (she is a first grade teacher), so they can spend more time out here!
Then there was RAGBRAI taking place just 3 miles from my farm. RAGBRAI is the famous, yearly ride across Iowa that happens every July. This year 20,000 riders passed closed to the farm. My cousin Bob and Libbet stopped in to see me the day before the riders went by, after they made it to Centerville. They didn't stay long, but it was so good to see them. I gave them the official tour. They loved the farm. It was great to see both of them.
On July 28th, when all the riders passed by Bison Trail after leaving Centerville, I was there taking pictures and looking for my former neighbor, Norm Engstrom. He rides every year, and we made plans to meet, so he could ride out to the farm and see it. He is quite familiar with The Land, as he, and Chris his wife, lived on the next road over from The Land, but he has never seen the farm. He was quite impressed. Said (after eating 4 ears of sweet corn just picked that morning on an Amish farm) "This is an enchanting place." (So true!) Norm and I figured out it has been 3 years since we've seen each other. That's how long Chris and Norm have lived in their new home in Ashland, Wisconsin. They really like it up there. Again, it was good to see Norm after 3 years!
So, dear Reader, sadness and happiness all wound up together. Happy to see my family and friends, sad to lose Michael. Give lots of love to your loved ones, because you never know...