We took off for Chicago and Michigan on June 4. We were gone eight days, drove 1700 miles, and made 15 stops. I’m getting pretty good at scheduling these marathon trips. Marv drove all but one hour, and we saw many friends and family. I’d warned them ahead of time that this was not Farewell Hug Tour #2, but a Gratitude to God Tour for our extra time.

The main prompt for the trip was my grandniece’s wedding near Grand Rapids, MI. I’d told her that I couldn’t RSVP because of the uncertainty of our situation, but she said to come if we could, they’d hold a place for us. It was a grand reunion of some of my Hoitenga relatives; my grandniece is my brother Dewey’s grandchild. My brother passed away in 2005.

A highlight for the brief time we had in Chicago was staying at the Heritage, our former condo building near Michigan and Randolph overlooking Millennium Park. Seeing friends there and getting hugs from our doormen were special treats. It seemed like we’d just left there yesterday, rather than already two years ago.

Chapel at the University of Iowa

We were home only three days when I left again. Way last March, when Marv’s days seemed numbered, he’d encouraged me to sign up for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Our thinking was he’d be gone and this happy place of mine would be a good thing to do. So with his booting me out, our son from Seattle flying in to spend some time with him, and our daughter covering the rest of the time, I drove to Iowa City and took a weekend course on metaphors and a week-long course on blending our personal memoir stories within the broader context of societal concerns. For example, Marv’s refusal of taking chemo is right in sync now with the movement of Gawande’s Being Mortal notion of “dying naturally” and other current literature advocating for less medicalization of aging-related diseases.

I got home at four yesterday. Marv was VERY happy to have me home again, and I am VERY happy to be home and will be home now for the duration. He is seeing some changes; the disease is clearly progressing. Today, we are working on his obituary and the program for his memorial service. As usual, I’m sitting here at my desk while he dictates his wishes and his preferred wording to me. Then I will send a copy to his computer so he can tell me what I missed or give me the go ahead. We are a team! Between his more frequent need for naps and pain control, we’ll get the necessary work done.

And, would you believe it? He asked me to take a walk around the block earlier. I’ve been after him for YEARS to take a walk with me. We strolled around our block. He said, “You sure picked out a nice neighborhood.” A fun compliment since he’d sent me here to buy the house by myself (with our daughter’s help, of course!).

And now our daughter and family are dropping in. Four-thirty on a Sunday afternoon. And our son and daughter-in-law called earlier from their car en route from a weekend away.

And tomorrow, Marv will finish making a coffee table order he got from our adult grandson nearby. We are truly blessed!