I asked Flo once why she wanted such a large family. Her response made it into my memoir, Long Time, No See:
“Well really,” she answered, “I always wanted just two children.” Her first-born was my sister Bobbie; the second, my brother Doug. The perfect little family.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Hmmmm,” she said, taking a long time to think it through. She finally answered with a laugh. “Too many parties, I guess!”
I am the youngest of seven, and all my siblings (hey, isn’t that a daytime soap opera?) made it to Chicagoland this Christmas to party with Flo. Some highlights:
- Brian Miller’s new book. Remember the post about my sister Bev’s trip to see her son Brian in South Korea? The Village Across the Sea, a collection of Brian’s stories and photography of life on Jeju, was just published. Bev and her husband Lon attended the book launch virtually, thanks to Skype. A review in last weekend’s Korea Times describes Brian’s photography: “Miller, an English teacher and photographer, explores the diverse and fading themes of an area in transformation.” From what everyone tells me, the photos are striking. See for your self at Brian Miller’s web site.
- Lydia Hoover’s new hat.I came home on Christmas Day to find a phone message from Lydia, one of my sister Cheryl’s 11 grandchildren. “I love
the hat you made me, Aunt Betha,” Lydia’s feathery voice came drifting out of my answering machine from her Little House in Minnesota. I’m wearing it all day today. I really love it. Thank you, Aunt Betha.” Sounds corny, I know, but I really did think of Lydia with every stitch. Her sweet message confirmed what I knew already: it was a labor of love.
- My new scarf. Hanni spent her final days as a Seeing Eye dog leading me over and over again to the knitting store down the street. the very, very patient owner of Loopy Yarns oversaw my work, assuring I’d have Lydia’s hat in the mail before Hanni retired and I left to train with a new dog. All that time my brother Doug’s thoughtful and hard-working daughter Marsha was busy at home in Indianapolis…learning to crochet! I think of Marsha every time I wear the warm, colorful scarf she made me for Christmas. Which means I think of her every day.
- The new line on my resume.My sister Marilee Amodt and her daughter Jennifer met up with us at Hackney’s one cold afternoon while they were in town, and bartender Billy Balducci knew exactly how to warm us up. Jen is getting married in March, and before the night was over, she asked if I’d officiate the ceremony. Note to Jennifer: totally understandable if you were just caught up in the moment. You won’t hurt my feelings if you take back the invite. But
if you and Brian Ulen are serious about having me do the honors…I’m there!
Somehow amidst all that Finke family frenzy, we squeezed in a visit to our son Gus in Wisconsin over the holidays, too, and were delighted to learn that the new CD player he got for Christmas has rekindled his affection for…punk music! So if you’re wondering what to do with all those old Patti Smith CDs you transferred to your iPod over the holiday break, leave a comment here. I’ll be happy to send you Gus’ address.