When Rich and I left Rod and Trish, we headed east out of Missouri towards St. Louis. Rich wanted us to see the “Archway to the West” and as we rode I-64 I was able to get some decent shots of the archway and the St. Louis skyline. Then we crossed the state border into Illinois going almost halfway across to spend the night in Mount Vernon. We attended Mass in the lovely church of St. Mary’s on Saturday 27 August which left us free to have a small lie-in on the Sunday before making tracks for Louisville, KY and Richard’s family.
Like most of the days on this trip, God blessed us with perfect weather for riding as we finished crossing the state of Illinois, clipped the bottom of Indiana, and rode into the blue grass state of Kentucky. I could feel Richard’s excitement mounting as we rode closer to “home”. The plan was to head to his sister Rose’s home, unpack the bike, then head over to the Kentucky State Fair with Rose, her husband Ronnie, and their kids, Megan and Kalin, to meet up with another sister, Robin, and her daughter, Brittany, and his brother, Robert and his wife, Sylvie, and their son, Patrick. Wow, what a reunion!! I had not seen some of these folks since Thanksgiving 2004!
We spent several fun hours at the fair. I found some great HOT dip mixes and some wonderfully decadent fudge, while Richard ate a Krispy Kreme hamburger?????? (yes, that was a hamburger between two doughnuts!!), and later he could not resist trying some “fried Koolaid”. While some of the others went to a concert they had booked to see, Rich and I strolled around the rides for a while. We had fun tempting the “guess your age” guy who made my day and gave me a “prize” after guessing me to be 15 years younger than I am. Whether he was being truthful or gallant in his guessing I’m not sure, but I was happy. Then the tiredness of the ride hit in and we headed home to get a good night’s rest. We needed to get our beauty sleep because the next day we were putting on a Bar-b-q for the family and even more people were coming.
So on Monday we went shopping then got busy cooking and preparing food. By 4pm yet another sister, Rhonda, arrived with her daughter, Ginny, followed shortly afterward by Rich’s step-Mom Ruth, his step-brother Ryan and his step-sister Rachel and her husband Michael with his son in tow. The crowd was rounded out when Robin got there with her son Dustin, and finally we were able to tuck into all that good food. A little later, as we rested full tummies, Kalin took Dustin and they went to pick up Brittany and her girlfriend who had been attending a school sport meet-up. By that time we were ready for some dessert and enjoyed some wonderful concoction that Sylvie had made.
Our final day in Louisville, Rich went to get his (final?? who knows) tattoo in honor of his retirement. Of his eight tattoos, Lucky in Louisville has created 5 of them. This one he actually created around a small existing one of a dolphin that Rich had done in Washington, DC some years ago. Lucky extended the water/wave line under the dolphin , then added the letters USN over the top of everything with a sunrise and the year Rich entered the Navy at one end, and a sunset with his retirement year at the other. It’s really beautiful.
That evening we hooked up with Rose and Ronnie and the kids, Robin, and Richard’s old school friend and partner-in-crime, Fonda with his wife Sherry. We had a great meal and wonderful socializing at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we all ate a bit too much because the food was great!.
Next day, Wednesday 31 August, it was time to load up our faithful Harley, say our farewells, and hit the road again as we headed towards North Carolina. It had been a good visit with family and hopefully it won’t be so long before we see each other again.
On May 30th I wrote a posting titled Vignette- The Young Fan. There was another story to write about another young fan which I almost included in that previous posting. But then I realized that it needed its own space.
So as well as the young boy who sat beside my husband, there was a young girl in the seat in front of him. I don’t know whether Rich noticed her or not and I haven’t spoken to him about her since. She was a little older than the boy in our row, perhaps in her mid to late teens – fifteen to seventeen years old.
She was dressed very ordinarily – jeans and a t-shirt. She had just-below-shoulder length dark hair in a non descript style. She was neither “pretty” or “ugly” – whatever those labels mean. Just a very ordinary girl at a concert getting ready to enjoy herself. But within a few minutes of noticing her I realized that she was far from ordinary.
She sat next to an older woman who I initially guessed to be her mother or perhaps an aunt, and they were with two other women who sat on the other side of the girl. As I said, I noticed she was different and after watching her for a while I realized that she was probably somewhat mentally challenged. I have volunteered with the mentally and physically challenged in the past so I have a soft spot in my heart for them.
Her jaw hung a little slack which left her mouth always slightly open and the corners of her mouth were always wet as though she were about to dribble. When she turned to speak to or listen to the woman next to her she didn’t just turn her head, she purposely choreographed her whole upper body in a complete physical turn toward the woman. Her eyes seemed extra bright, as though they were on the verge of tears, and they were more wide open than the average person’s.
There was a moment, just before the concert began, when one of the women said something and the girl obviously found it very comical. She began laughing and shaking her body up and down, almost in a jumping motion, as she brought her hands together, as though to clap, but then just rubbed them together very quickly. She was very excited and her eyes became even more brilliant than before.
Once the first act started and the audience began to warm up, people began to clap to the music. The girl’s mother (she may also have been a caregiver), began to clap and the girl first scrutinized her to check out exactly what she was doing, and then began to clap also. It was a very careful and purposeful putting the hands together movement, as though she had studied how to do it and was now practicing.
Not long after that the audience began to really warm up and many chose to stand up and raise their hands to God. The mother/aunt/caregiver rose to her feet, continuing to clap, and began swaying to the music. Again, the young girl studied her movements and only once she was sure of the sequence did she then get to her feet and, keeping an eye on the older woman, began to clap and sway side to side.
Throughout the whole concert this scene played out in front of me. The older woman would laugh, so the girl would laugh. The older woman would make a specific movement, so the girl would do the same. Just as a toddler learns his or her behaviors from watching and imitating, so this young girl was learning how to function in the big wide world.
It made me think how vulnerable these special people are. They are filled with such an innocence and trust totally on the adults in their lives to show them the way, to show them how to behave and act around others and in specific situations. I prayed that the people who took care of her were good people who loved her and would protect her. I also said a prayer of gratitude for my own children and asked God to keep a special eye out for all the more vulnerable people in our world today.
I have been getting my notes together to write up several posts as promised in my last article. However, before I write those posts I need to write a small vignette that I experienced a week ago. My husband and I are Christian music fans and we had tickets to attend a concert in Jacksonville.
There were three acts. The opener was Trevor Morgan, a new voice on the Christian music scene and very talented. He was followed by the band 10th Avenue North which has been playing the Christian scene for several years now and have become very popular. To round out the evening in top billing place was a great band called Third Day who we had previously seen at Disney’s Night of Joy. This band has been playing together for about twenty years and I really like them. Their lead singer has a most unusual voice.
As we settled into our seats, I was sitting to the right of Richard, we were joined on Richard’s left by a young mother and her son. I guess the boy was about ten years old and it became fairly obvious that he was very excited to be at the concert. After a short conversation, we discovered that he was a die-hard Third Day fan and he could barely wait for them to come on stage.
The concert began and we all thoroughly enjoyed Trevor Morgan. I think we will be hearing a lot more of him in the future. Tenth Avenue North gave us a great performance and took us up to the interval. Richard went off to grab us some water, and the mother and son also left the auditorium. When they came back the boy was happily munching on a giant pretzel. His mother said he needed “replenishing before Third Day appears”.
After a few moments, she opened a bag and pulled out a couple of CD’s. With a certain air of wishful expectation, the boy asked her what she had bought and I heard her tell him that she had really liked Trevor Morgan and wanted to support him so had decided to buy his CD. She then went on to say she had really enjoyed Tenth Avenue North and didn’t have any of their music at home and wanted to get their CD too. I saw the boy’s expression drop somewhat at that piece of news, but then his Mom said, “but then I changed my mind and got the Third Day CD.”
It had been a while since I saw someone’s face light up in such a way. The boy gasped, his eyes opened wide, and this great big grin spread all over his face. He put his pretzel down and held both hands out for the CD. Smiling happily the mom handed it over and ecstatically the boy took hold of it and drew it in towards his chest. He sat there for a few moments without saying a word. He clasped the CD to his heart, his eyes were closed and a beatific smile spread from ear to ear. He was totally “in love” in that moment.
After a while, he opened his eyes and slowly began to examine the CD. It was as though he was holding a precious jewel. He lovingly stroked the front cover and I fully expected him to start drooling any minute. He carefully turned the CD over and I assume he was reading the song titles. At this point the mom said that she would put it back in the bag until they got home and she put her hand out to take it. But the boy clutched it, kissed it, and put it back to his heart, closing his eyes once again in sheer sublime happiness.
I was so in awe of this whole little scene that played out right there beside us, and just very impressed that this young man was so passionate about a Christian band. I was also grateful that he had a very loving and supportive mother. She gently explained that if he wanted to finish his pretzel he would need to let go of the CD and that it would be safer back in the bag. I also heard her say that he could play it as soon as they got into the car for the ride home. He reluctantly let go after a couple more kisses!!
Well he then had his heart’s desire fulfilled when Third Day took the stage and played practically non-stop for almost two hours. It was truly a remarkable performance and the boy stood in his seat for the entire time, eyes sparkling and singing along with the songs that he recognized. What a great evening we all had and I know I will remember that boy’s face forever.