Friday 8 October 2010

Family Matters!

Emotionally, it feels to me like we're near the "apex" of this trip around the world which began the 10th of September and included a day in Singapore, three days in Paris, and some time around Northern Italy - like a week at Lake Como (including a day-trip by Bernina Express train to St. Moritz Switzerland), several days around Verona and Lago de Guarda, then half a week in Venice.  It just kept getting better and better.

Now we've been in America since last Friday, spending the weekend mostly "recovering" at a hotel during the first nasty windy-rainy-cold weather Chicago had this fall, while my daughter and family attended a wedding in Michigan.  However, we did enjoy a very "unique" Blue Man Group performance downtown Sunday evening!

I said this is the apex and here's why.  (My daughter Megan took most of the photos I've embedded below.)  One of them depicts my 24-yr old son Jordan holding his 12-week-old nephew - the new cutie in our family - during our little Hochstetler family reunion in Chicago on Monday morning, the 4th of October.  That's the red-letter day when I was FINALLY able to meet and hold my first grandchild: Benton Boley! 

I'd rank this experience right up there with the top five of my whole life!  My brother Verle and my two aunts Miriam and Mary Ellen from "back home" in Indiana were also able to join us to help share this important moment.

This week has actually turned into a triple celebration because that same day, Monday, Benton's father Justin received confirmation he had passed on the first try that extremely grueling Illinois Bar exam he took during two 12-hour days the end of July.  He's landed a position as an attorney at an excellent Chicago law firm where he had interned but which usually doesn't hire "rookies", and been on the job for a month already doing consumer advocacy, protecting individual rights, handling class action law suits and the like.  I'm very proud of him and his work - and the fine husband and father he is for Megan and Benton.

But that's not all, because the very next day my son Jordan, while still with us, received a call confirming that he had successfully landed his new job at the Apple Store in Times Square, NYC starting the end of this week!  That's the one that stays open 24/7/365.  His job is full time with good benefits and Jordan had only moved to NYC two weeks earlier to "seek his fortune."  He read there is less chance of getting a job there than getting accepted at Stanford University (6% acceptance rate.)  So Jordan REALLY pulled off something major there.

Then, Monday evening I started coming down hard with some sort of bug that had all sorts of flu symptoms connected to it - achy legs, congestion, headache, slight fever, then coughing - and I truly felt terrible.  I felt very "ticked off" because I haven't been sick like that for a very long time and I had come all this way to be with the people that mattered most to me.  However, I loaded up with echinachia, vitamin C, inhaled pure peppermint oil fumes that I rubbed around my nose, and drank lots of tea and water while isolating myself in a hotel room for most of two days.  

Suddenly Wednesday afternoon I felt a breakthrough coming and energy returned.  Within 48 hours of the first tough symptoms coming on (by Wednesday eve) most of them had cleared, not even coughing, and I was able to visit Benton and family again.  He was fine, by the way, and still is - whew!  Carole Anne seems OK, too, but she had to "put up" with me in the hotel room all that time - bless her soul.  I highly recommend her foot rubs with peppermint oil.  Something in all that creates a powerful "release."  My good immune system hath prevailed and my head is basically clear as I publish this column this morning - a minor miracle moving through all of that so quickly!

So, we are all feeling very blessed right now.  Obviously I don't need to worry at all about what's happening "back home" with either of my children - they are both extremely resourceful, well cared for, and in very good shape.  I can feel free to keep doing what Carole Anne and I are doing in other parts of the world - as long as we can stand it to visit family like this only sporadically, knowing our grandchildren are growing up without us around much - the one very major drawback.  However, using good technology to keep in touch really does help.

I'm moving on from Chicago to Indiana today so meet with some friends and family there (Thursday) while Carole Anne flies to Massachusetts.  I join her there Saturday evening for some time with her family - and a few days in the Berkshire mountains together in that state next week, during the peak time for fall foliage, before I need to get back and reengage with things "Down Under" on the 18th.

With gratitude and thanksgiving for this special time away to clear the mind and refurbish the soul...  -Clair


  1. As one who accompanied Clair in his trek across Paris and Italy; I can personally attest Clair is a blessing to be with. His flexibility to slow his pace so we can walk arm in arm together as we strolled the paths of Venice, was immeasurably memorable. Clair had periods of time when he could hike and climb, peruse museums at a snails pace, and "be free like a giselle" as well. We learned to respect each other's modes of appreciation for what we saw. I enjoyed savoring a place, watching the people, interacting, and drinking the flavors in. Clair at times preferred seeing as many as possible of the museums and gardens of Italy. I relied on Clair's steady hand taking vids and snaps too. All in all, there was room for both preferences during our journey. Thanks Mate!, Lovingly, Carole Anne

  2. Clair and Carole, your blog describes your trip wonderfully - especially the joy of family. looking forward to catching up in November. We are counting the days to our trip. Andy and Dee