These people, these amazingly cool people, are my aunt and uncle, Shirle and Jerry. Shirle is my mom’s oldest sister, and I am pretty sure her best friend, as well. Their children were like siblings to this lonely only. They are wildly intelligent. They are witty, they are fun, they are kind and generous. And, they live in a place so suited to them. A beautiful place. Minnesota.
From the time I was just a little bitty girl, I LOVED to go visit their lovely home. From the time we stopped at the Minnesota Visitor’s Center just over the border, I was smitten. I loved the visitor’s center’s glass windows that overlooked the wooded area, with its dense trees, and distinctly Minnesotan wildlife and vibe.
When we arrived at their home, (in a lovely area with large trees, beautiful but unique homes),with its gorgeous wood garage door, and a garden that to this day enthralls me; I excitedly looked to the porch stoop to see their cat, Rowdy, waiting for us (or at least that’s what I thought, ha). Inside the ranch home, there were all wood ceilings, that smelled piney and delicious. There was lots of diet coke in the fridge, and a breakfast nook, which I had never seen before. The basement held barbies from the late 70’s, and a bookshelf that made my heart leap with joy. (It is STILL there, and still exciting, 25-30 years later). That bookshelf held books that were undiscovered…..and I probably could have stopped right there, taken a leap into the future, and found myself the librarian I am today. I read all of the books that I could, perused all of the rest of the shelves and saw historical novels, fascinating non-fiction, and travel guides.
I learned to swim in Minnesota, taught by my cousin Gillian, and uncle Jerry. I played in the sprinkler in the lush green lawn with my cousin’s future wife, Jenny, who several years later unfortunately left the earth, and my two baby cousins Kris and Justin, way too soon. I rode an exercise bike for the first time, and stayed on it 2 hours while reading a book (who knew you could do that?!) I later swam in a pool owned by Kim and Gillian’s friend, Muffin, who’s name never fails to fascinate me. REALLY, her name is MUFFIN? (No, not really, it is something like “Nicole”, muffin is just a nickname), but to me it gave her a mystique, like Madonna, or Prince.
My most recent visit to my aunt and uncle’s house came in late July. My friend Tammie and I stayed with them while attending Creative Memories’ National Convention in Minneapolis; And in the few moments I could take to spend with Jer and Shirle, I was just as smitten, just as happy there. I was able to wake up and go into the kitchen, where they were working on their crossword puzzles (2 or 3, it is a competition with them) with about 4 dictionaries strewn about the granite island (no more breakfast nook in the kitchen that was beautifully remodeled about 10 years ago).; and greet them just as I did as a little girl all of those years ago.
Another excitement for me (yes, I am a simple girl) was to drink one of Aunt Shirle’s Diet Cokes, (out of her mind bogglingly cool fridge, decorated with awesome magnets); which I learned on this trip, she has been drinking (it began with regular coca-cola) since she was a high schooler, and found them in the teacher’s lounge machine. 🙂
We played with the bearded dragon that my sweet cousin Justin left in their care, when they discovered the lizard didn’t fair so well with cats. He was awesome. Aunt Shirle tucked him in at night like a baby, under a blanket. It was insane.
I also saw Uncle Jerry’s hat he received while on a mission trip to Bolivia. One of the men there loved Jer so much that he hand knit him a hat, with his name, Jer’s name, and their mutual towns on it. It blew my mind with its beauty.
And finally, when it was time to go, I snapped some pics of all of us, and aunt shirle’s darling little shed (hand built by Jerry and my dad), and shed a tear at needing to leave. I must go back soon, and show the girls and Ken all that I loved, so that they can build their own beautiful memories. Because they are cool. Really, really cool.