The Younger Brother (also known as the Old Codger and Ancient One)

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest …

Said Shakespeare, just in time for the birthday party. 

There were some other elders to visit on this trip. In Minnesota, Helen Week, a youthful 99 years old, here with daughters Kathy and Barb, and with me. We’ve all known each other since birth I guess. Louie and Helen were among mom and dad’s best friends their whole lives, the coffee and cake consumed during those years could fill warehouses. 

And then there’s cousin Vivian in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I’ve been coming to Vivian’s since I was born, only then this house was Aunt Mabel’s. Vivi was 89 this year. Loving funny tough old girl. Just weeks after I visited in June, she had a serious fall and is now in a nursing home. She’s perfectly fine in all ways except various parts of her body are wearing out. Vivian is a character in that old-fashioned sense of the word, a one-of-a-kind human being. Can’t wait to get up there next summer and hang out wherever she is…I can’t imagine going north and not having Vivi there. 

Vivian, cousin Marty, and me in June.

My last ‘elder’ visit was the most enjoyable of lunches with my high school friend, Pat. It pains me only a little to refer to the two of us as elders although I’m sure we’re both used to the reality of that label by now.  I’ve written about Pat before…the pleasure of discovering how compatible we are after lo, these many many years. We were friends in grade school and part of high school but not besties so to discover and renew an even better friendship, which seems to encapsulate the best memories of Northome (and Mizpah) school years all rolled into one person, is quite special. Validates those years somehow. Pat’s lived and taught and raised a family in International Falls all these years, up on the Canadian border. For additional visiting pleasure, it’s quite beautiful up around the Falls which is right on the Rainy River and right by Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods and the Boundary Waters…which might be all one and the same…or not. Anyway it’s Minnesota at its blue and green and walleye best.  

Steven and I went up to the Falls a second day to do some paperwork with the land. Our family land, now the boys, which will eventually belong to the grandchildren is at the opposite end of Koochiching County from International Falls although that’s the county seat where all things legal happen. 


  1. What lovely memories you have from your travels. I think the “art” of the visit is gone? Remember visiting relatives and the the cake and coffee would come out…and the family stories…most of which I have forgotten because I am so ancient

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