Sometimes I look at the totality, so far, of my life and it seems that I have lived several lives.
My childhood with my mother and father and 4 siblings up until the day my father died of a stroke at age 54. We camped in Michigan’s upper peninsula every summer for 3 to 4 weeks. Sometimes we split that time between 2 campgrounds, and sometimes we just stayed at one the whole time. Of course, before we got to the campground every year, we had to stop at Mareth’s farm in Coleman, WI to pick up the camper. That’s where we had to store it year ‘round, as we didn’t have a garage, or parking slab, or even a big enough yard.
Mareth’s farm held infinite adventures for us city kids. We got to milk cows, feed chickens, dig potatoes, and pick blackberries. Mrs. Mareth would get the wood fired stove started early, while Mr. Mareth milked the cows by hand, many times with help from my older siblings. Mrs. Mareth cooked the most wonderful breakfasts for us, with homemade bread and fresh eggs, but what I remember most of all, were the blackberries she put up in canning jars. She would bring them up from the root cellar, and dish them out into small bowls. They were dark, and surrounded by their sweetened juice. Then she would pour fresh cream over them. It was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.
My father died when I was 13. We stopped going camping. We stopped taking vacations altogether. It seemed like life had become dreary, and well, lifeless. My mother still worked for the county, and when she took her vacation days, she stayed at home. My father had been the social parent; the planner, the doer, the fun lover. A few of us inherited some of his traits, but we were too young to realize it. My mother was practical, and together they made a good team, but without him, there were no more Sunday picnics, and no more vacations.
When I was 20, I married a man from El Salvador, Central America. We met at a college party, and it truly was love at first site. This began a chapter of my life, which in comparison to my friends at the time, was quite adventurous. I married Jose and we moved from my home in Milwaukee, to Monterrey, Mexico. My outlook at this move was that it would be a great adventure, and I was not disappointed.