The joys of meeting face to face after 18 long months

Susan Manzke
Together again. Susan is joined by her grandchildren, from left, Eli, Arianna, Wyatt and Harrison.

The call from daughter Rachel surprised me. “Are you busy this weekend, Mom?” she asked. I said, like usual, I had no big plans, actually no little plans either.

Rachel suggested I visit her on Saturday, but if I didn’t want to drive the two hours there, she’d come with the kids on Sunday.

I hesitated and told her I’d think about it and give her my answer later. My reluctance to visit wasn’t explained. Yes, I’m more of a hermit these days, but that wasn’t the problem. The real problem was a twinge of sciatica that made me think about sitting in the car for the drive.

To Rachel’s surprise, I decided to take the ride to Sun Prairie.

Plans were made with my sister-in-law, Ginny, to take Sunny out after lunch that day.

When I started my leisurely drive south, I had an odd feeling. Where was I going and how was I supposed to get there? I asked myself.

It had been over eighteen months since I made the drive. The last time I was there, Bob road shotgun—he loved looking at the fields as we crossed Wisconsin. This time I’d be going solo.

It was the very beginning of my trip that made me hesitate. Which way should I point my car? Once (or twice) over the years, Bob and I found we were heading in the wrong direction, turning west toward Rob’s home, instead of going south. We laughed as we turned around—sometimes a car has a mind of its own.

To be safe, I set up the Google map on my phone and had it talking to me during the ride. When the map wasn’t telling me to turn, I listened to the recorded book Scavengers by Michael Perry.

By the time I reached the halfway point, my sciatica was really bothering me. It was time for a pitstop at a Rosendale gas station where I could buy some Ibuprofen.

After stretching, I got back into the car and continued. The medication took care of the pain.

It was a lovely day for an outing. Traffic wasn’t a problem and the two-hour drive didn’t seem so bad—a recorded book always helps time fly.

Rachel, Eli, Arianna, and Wyatt were ready for my visit—Daddy David was away working. I got a tour of bedrooms with new desks and furniture, including a homemade bedside table. Out in the backyard, a lot of bouncing took place on the family Christmas gift, a trampoline—no, that is one activity I did not join in on. I remember a back-flop I took in high school that had me bent over for days.

Russell and Harrison surprise Grandma Susan.

I was watching the grandchildren bouncing when I heard a voice I recognized. Russell and grandson Harrison stopped in to surprise me—Rachel is good at arranging surprises. I had no idea that Russ would join us. Good thing he had the afternoon free.

We talked and heard about work projects and virtual schools.

COVID vaccinations meant I could reach out and get a hug—hugs are the best gifts. We also took photos together.

After bouncing ceased I was led out to the driveway where scooters and bicycles came out. These were all demonstrated for grandma—so many new things in the 18 months of distant visiting.

Though we talk on the phone and email, you can’t beat being together, even for a short visit. I wish everyone lived closer, but at least they aren’t in Australia, like a friend’s family—I’ll take anywhere in Wisconsin over the other side of the world.

My time with family ended before four. As usual, my visit was too short, but it sure felt great getting away from home. Good thing the pain medication helped. I did not suffer at all on the way home. The pit stop in Rosendale was still needed. It was time for ice cream!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;