21 March 2011

The cat just came downstairs with one of Julia's hair pompoms in his teeth. He puts it down, licks his paws and then sets upon the serious work of batting the pompom around and catching it. And I am finished with breakfast and making reservations and spending money on our Disney World trip. I just need to rent a car for the end of the trip when we go to visit David's Dad and Claire. It will be a quick overnight visit but we should be able to have a meal and a bit of time together. If I get myself together, I will bring down pictures and the program from David's memorial. But I will only give it to Dad if I think he can handle it. I don't mean to hide anything from him. I would like to share that time but I don't want to drag him back to those days. He is sounding a bit better these days when we talk on the phone -- I don't know whether it is moving on or if it is because he is away from Jersey. Florida might not press on him as heavily as his Union home.

Saturday was a spring day! Julia and I worked outside after her therapy was finished. She helped me pick up fallen sticks and pile them, and then pick up the leaves and garden waste that I raked. There is still a bit of snow left around the compost bin so it is tricky getting compost in without slipping, but she filled the tub again and again. We worked companionably for more than an hour and we cleaned three of our garden beds and part of the front lawn. Julia is very excited about spring -- spotting emerging bulb plants on our walks. She remembers snow drops and crocus from last year. Oh, this has been a long winter for us.

Then on Saturday evening, we went to Randall School for the revamped International Dinner. The person who has chaired the dinner for years wanted change but couldn't seem to do it herself. We started the process of change in the beginning of the year -- a co-chair, a change from a weekday to the weekend, a change of location from Franklin to Randall, and a change of vision. No longer would our most "international" flavor be pizza! Although there was pizza to please many children. The sign up sheet seemed stuck at about 50 for most of last week, but a sudden surge at the end put us over 100 and on Saturday it looked more like 200 people were eating together. One of our principals did a cooking demonstration, an African dance group performed, and a group of our kids of Hmong ancestry also performed. There was easy access to the playground for kids to go out after they ate and a generous spirit in the air.

And people cooked! At different times which people were lined up getting food, I was aware that some food items were disappearing, but each time I became anxious, another family with another interesting dish appeared. There were not a lot of leftovers, but for awhile there we were reliving the loaves and fishes story.

This last month has been so tense in Madison. The plans for this dinner were not made as a way to bring our community together after all of the political upheaval but it seemed to serve that function. This too, made me so very grateful.

Julia was overwhelmed by the crowd but she handled it quietly and most appropriately. She spent lots of time drawing on the paper taped in table sized sheets on tables. Later, another adult helped her find some legos and she and two boys sat in a corner building animals and empires. Yes, I wished she would watch the dancers and enjoy the hubbub, but Julia handled herself well, and was ready to go home when it was time. Oh, and she also willingly put the legos away when she was asked to.

Last year, we did not go to the international dinner. David had just gotten his new heart, and I was consumed with him. I picked Julia up from school the day of the dinner and saw the signs on the door at Franklin. I remembered the two years before that when we had gone, and flashed forward to this year when life would be back to normal. My memory of coming into Franklin, seeing the sign, and thinking those thoughts is very visceral, as if it was yesterday.

So Saturday was bitter sweet. No old normal for us and no one to share the evening with when it was all over and we were home, but still there was joy. Illusive and fleeting. The planning and work was good, the camaraderie was good. Finding a new way to be together as a community was good. Forcing myself to serve as MC without expecting myself to be perfect was also good.

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