With heartfelt sentiments: Goodbye Baxter! Thanks for opening your hearts (and home) to us.
We will miss you!
We left Baxter this morning a couple hours later than when we left Fargo one week ago. Other than the usual ruckus in the back seats, the trip was fairly uneventful with clear, mostly sunny weather and good roads. As we drew closer to our home city, the radio stations alerted us to the fact that we were heading into the aftermath of Fargo-Moorhead Flood 2009. A discussion was taking place regarding Moorhead schools reopening after their two-week break (they’d just gotten off spring break when the flooding efforts started). Soon, we should know about our kids’ schools and just when they’ll be back open for the business of learning. I think the first days back will be taken up with a lot of processing by the kids, which will be a good and necessary thing. I’m sure we adults will be doing a lot of that as well as we attempt our before-flood routines.
It was sweet watching the kids’ reactions as we got closer to town. Although all of us are profoundly greatful for the refuge provided by our dear friends in Baxter, you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief as we pulled into our cul-de-sac. “It really IS Fargo!” said 3-year-old Nick, who thinks “Fargo” is the name of our house. The little ones were screeching around the house, getting reacquainted with the “digs” that had seemed a distant memory just a day ago. “Look at the cats! They look so cute,” Nick said, spying “Skittles” underneath the piano bench. “Dad got their hair cut!” Dad didn’t get their hair cut, but…it was the only reason Nick could come up with to explain why they looked different from the last time he saw them a week ago.
It’s a strange thing, the whole displacement thing. And amazing, really, to think that Mary and I really did pull it off — keeping nine kids (and a few occasional neighbor kids and piano students) in line (for the most part) and each other sane (for the most part). There were some tense moments as we tried to adjust and find our place in someone else’s home as they, too, were adjusting to our presence (not easy for kids, who depend on routine). It was especially hard for Mary’s boys to have to go to school as our kids, still rubbing their eyes from sleep, headed to the couch to watch yet another video. “Why do they just get to hang out on the couch all day?” one of the twins, age 8, asked his mother. “Well, when you get flooded out, you’ll get to sit around on a couch all day, too.” The inequity of life was all around us in its various colors, but cutting through all of it was a healthy dose of love and friendship that I know all of us will remember and cherish forever. I enjoyed seeing all of the boys (ages 3, 8, 8, 11, 13 and 15) bonding over various video games, dart guns and light sabres — not to mention the snowman- and snowball-making events. The girls (8, 11) were in their own world and space; I heard a few more sighs of boredom from them. But we did our best to keep life moving forward through light planning, frequent compromise and trying to remain flexible to whatever each hour might bring. Mary’s, “I’m going to miss you guys” goodbye said it all, to me. If she could still love my family even after we’d invaded her house for a solid week, rocking her own kids’ schedules and adding stress to her home, I could feel very secure, indeed, in this friendship, and in all of the good things that came from our week together (and there were many).
I’m posting a few shots that didn’t make it into earlier posts, including one result of a Play-doh craft session (below), Zach and his puppets (school project, below), and a photo (above) of the “loungers” (minus Zach, who was working on his puppets at the time) the afternoon the boys were let out of school early.
As the rest of life slowly returns to some kind of normal routine, I think it’s proper to transition this blog out of “fargo flood 09” mode as well. Though that doesn’t mean I won’t refer to the flood and its effects, it’s time to nudge the flood from its exalted spot of headliner to a more mundane (though not unimportant) place within our daily lives. Certainly, as we venture out here, we will see more and more of its effects, and will discover ways, I’m sure, we are still actively engaged in this life-changing event that will forevermore be part of our personal history.
Peace to you, and thanks again for the many thoughts and prayers over the past week. Blessings to those of you still working through the muck. It may have halted life as we knew it, but new life is coming.