Saturday, May 10, 2014

Graduation in the Palouse

I'm in the Palouse. It's a sentence that has begun many a blog post. The picture above is of the road leading from my sister's house to her husband's family farm, where the farming operations are still centered for his world. This road bears my brother-in-law's family name. It's easy far enough out among the rolling hills on the eastern border of Washington, just up the grade from the Snake river, that a person has to know where she's going to find her way there. Out on this road, you'd best turn your cell-phones off. The batteries drain themselves in short order searching for a signal impossible to find. I've discovered that the hard way more than once. Maybe in this day, in this age, it's hard to imagine a place where cell phones don't work, but the Palouse has dark holes of such places.

And I like it that way.

Beve and I drove over to the University in the heart of the Palouse a couple of days ago to celebrate the college graduation of Beve's youngest nephew. Grampie's youngest grandchild graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering (which warms the cockles of my engineering family-raised heart). This young man is a thoughtful, philosophical person. To wit: yesterday when Beve and I went over to his apartment and I gave him a hug, I asked him, "Are you happy?"
He answered, "Happy? How does someone answer such a question?"
I said,"I wasn't asking about your existential happiness, Cree. I just want to know if you're glad to be done." "Oh. Yeah. It hasn't sunk in yet." Later that night, he made sure to tell me that he actually WAS happy, glad we were all there.
J and Cree are SO much alike.
Funny how cousins might be that way.

It was a good weekend.
On the way over, Beve and I talked wanting to enjoy his family. Sometimes I haven't been my best self around these people. And that's what I prayed for--to be my BEST self. Not to be critical, not to look down my nose, to see the worst but the best, to accept them as they are. Beve and I talked about opportunities for real conversations, moments of connection among the crowd of family.

And God faithfully answered. No, He answered abundantly. There were such moments. Conversations that left me breathless in wonder, overwhelmed in sadness, burdened by what others have to bear. But connected. It was for those moments that we came.

We saw old friends, raised our glasses to a new graduate, renewed old relationships with shirt-tail relatives. Gave our blessing (if it was needed, even obliquely) to a new love. We chatted and ate, and talked and laughed. I had almost enough time with my sister (though never enough, of course), which is a boon of her living her where we can stay!

This was--as far as I know--the last graduation weekend we will ever come to in the Palouse. I'm glad it was such a sweet one. Such a diverse and rich and meaningful one.

I feel full--yes, kind of like I've feasted--of such richness, that it might take a while to sift through it all.
Tomorrow, long before I'm ready to open my eyes, Beve will wake up and drag me out of bed and into the car so we we can get home and spend part of the day with our own kids.

And gear up for Monday...


M said...

What ever do you mean by our family's cousins being alike? I just don't see it. Anywhere.

And, boy, would I love to come over this summer. More than ever after reading this post.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

These "happy" family moments tend to be too far between anymore for most families. So glad you were able to be a part of it. I know it meant a lot to your nephew. And I also understand about seeing similarities among cousins. I do that with my own kids and their cousins...and they can't see it either. Someday when they are old and we are gone, they may just notice that they are linked genetically and rediscover happy family traits and memories. Happy Mother's Day! Enjoy your kids.

jeskmom said...

M, I can understand why you wouldn't see any similarities between yourself and any of your American cousins!