Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This July, my wife and I will be celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary.  We were married in her hometown of Parnell, Iowa, population 200.  Most of the town is connected to her and she joked to me she had to move away to find a husband who wasn't a blood relative.  The church is gone now.  It was strange to drive by the location where my married life began and see it missing.  It was also the church where I delivered my father-in-law's eulogy to a packed crowd.  My wife's family sat in the front row as I recounted each sibling's favorite memory of their beloved dad.  Seated directly behind them were all of Spike's brothers and sisters, almost mirror images of my white-haired, blue-eyed aunts and uncles on my dad's side of the family.  Among Spike's sisters sat Inez, Spike's school teacher and matriarch of the family.  It was her weekly letters to my wife and me in California that kept us informed about the family in Iowa.  I spoke to the audience as if I had been living next door to them.  What a gift Inez gave us through her detailed letters.

I can't wait to see Inez.  She moved from her home in Waterloo to an assisted living home a stone's throw from my wife's family.  Inez never married.  She was too busy being the mother hen to all the family and played a major role in my wife's life.  She was afraid how she would fit in when she gave up her home in Waterloo but she made new friends quickly and is the life of the party.  I probably embarrassed her a little when I talked about her weekly letters during Spike's eulogy.  The crowd was stunned about Inez's thoughtfulness.  Her letters made me feel a part of the family.

This first week in Iowa is really special.  The icing on the cake will be visiting Inez and her sister Anne at the senior home.  I'm bringing Wilson with me.  And if Inez gives me permission, I will publish a photograph of the two of them to be shared with my blog readers.  It will be a homecoming I will cherish forever.  Wilson agrees.

Do you have a homecoming story to share?  Please comment below.

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