Yes, we had a hot German time in Freistatt a couple weeks ago. Mom, Dad and I drove up together, and we were able to meet Dad's sister, Ina, from Springfield as well. Erntfest is always something Mom and Dad have enjoyed and they have gone several times, twice when I was a kid, that I remember. Dad enjoyed the meal and mentioned more than once how long it had been since he'd had such good sauerkraut. (I'm not sure that I've ever had good sauerkraut, but to each his own.) We opted for the water rather than the beer, (as if we don't have enough issues to deal with, without the alcohol,) and spent the evening listening to polka music and watching couples dance. Mom enjoyed herself, tapping her feet to the music and clapping now and again. As the evening wore on she wanted to walk around more and more. I have to walk her holding both hands, sometimes, because she wants to touch everybody, whether she knows them or not. We get some funny looks, but it is clear that Mom isn't thinking too clearly and everyone is very kind and understanding. One young lady even took her hand as if she was her dearest friend and said, "Well, hello. How are you?" smiling, looking into her eyes, but not expecting an answer. So convincing was she that I had to ask, "Do you know my Mom or are you just being friendly?" She smiled and said, "Just being friendly." I think that is just so kind. I thought, "She must be a nurse or something." Anyway, it meant a whole lot to me that she did that and Mom loved the happy greeting, nodding and giving her clear eye contact with a big smile. What makes people so nice?
Anyway, Mom and I walked while Dad and Ina had a chance to visit. While we were there, on two separate occasions, young men she had taught in the 5th grade, 15 years ago, recognized her and she recognized them. Each gave her a big hug and the guy in the photo, Scott Perkins, whispered to her, "You mean a whole lot to me, Mrs. McCleary." I bit my lip. He is now 28. I thought of the countless children she has meant so much to and I was proud. It made me want to take my own teaching career and my students more seriously. Sometimes it's hard to get past their orneriness and keep in mind that someday, these kids will be young men and women. I wonder if someone will want to give me a hug someday and say, "You mean a whole lot to me, Mrs. Stebbins." I hope so. I want to make Mom proud back.