38. Empty Nest Syndrome
Well, directly after church we piled into Betsey and high-tailed it to the other side of Milwaukee. Perhaps in this instance a better verb might have been that we ‘MapQuested’ our way to Hartland, Wisconsin. This is relevant because this was one of our last relaxed non-GPS navigated trips, more on that later.
We arrived at our friend’s house to discover that they were well and truly suffering from empty nest syndrome. Their youngest daughter had done the grown up thing and gone out and got married. Like so many do these days, rather than her moving out of the family home, she and her husband moved in, sprouted a sprog(119) and settled down. Time passed by, money was saved, no doubt a little space was required, and the young family decided to move away from their in-built babysitters with the well stocked fridge and into their own home. It was shortly after this event that we arrived.
This was one of the times that my pastor’s training was required for we found our friends rather downcast and notably empty-nested, sitting bedraggled on their lounge floor. For indeed, not only was the home empty because their daughter, her husband and snot-gobbler(120) had just left, but the home was also empty because the exiting daughter and her young family had taken the stinkin’ furniture with them. So the dutiful man of the cloth that I am, I that it was my responsibility to point this suffering, empty-nested couple towards the light and to provide some much-needed refreshment for their tired bodies and no doubt aching butts.
In this case, the light turned out to be a honking huge and brand spanking new flat and wide screen television, that just happened to be airing a live Green Bay Packers game and the refreshment, well, that was beer from his fridge. With beer and a Packers game, who needs furniture in their house?
But seriously, ‘house’ is exactly the wrong word to describe this lounge-furniture-less abode. Immediately upon walking through the front door we felt instantly at home. It was almost a weird feeling, because there is no real reason for such a feeling. We have journeyed with this family for about seven Lithuanian Julys and always liked their…. I do not know the word for it. Perhaps it is their ability to be themselves whilst allowing others to also be themselves. Or maybe it is their ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude. I cannot put my finger on it, but we did feel instantly at home in their home. Part of it naturally enough was recognising God’s peace in their home, but this was only part of it. Their home environment kind of personified an oasis of good home-cooked-Olivia-Walton(121)-American values. We rested there.
That evening they had invited into their home everyone who was local and had previously met us at the Summer Language School here in Klaipėda(122). It was a nice time of catching up with friends and acquaintances, but no-one enjoyed it more that their grandson. The wean(123) was in carpet-crawling ecstasy. Not only was he on the floor playing with his train-set, but all of the adults were down at his level as well. ‘Twas something to do with all of the furniture having been moved from this lounge to his lounge.
We had a good sleep and were gone early in the morning for breakfast with another friend.
When Americans do breakfast, they do it right, well, almost right. American breakfasts can best be described as Scottish breakfast ‘lite’ as in only half the content and a quarter as unhealthy. But great nonetheless. Our friend, of whom this was the first time we had met her husband, is an inspirational force in my life. So we ate and drank coffee, whilst turning over endless possibilities of wonderful programmes for the orphanage kids. The problem so often being, is how are we supposed to down-scale these great North American-birthed ideas and apply them to a still-desperately-trying-to-emerge-from-communism Lithuanian public sector and state-run orphanage culture? It is tantamount to trying to fit the Sahara in a test tube, the programme tends to get buried under the daunting administration of the task.
Now just to set up the future story, our friends blessed us with a gift and tried to bless us with another. The first gift was the keys to their crib(124) in ‘Up North(125)’, Wisconsin. The second gift and mixed bag of blessings was a GPS system to find the crib up north.
So with a belly full of bacon and a cup full of caffeine, we regrettably plugged the GPS into Betsie and set off up north.
Tune in next week to read about the GPS from hell.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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