“Get-Togethers Keep Us Together When We’re Apart,” May 30, 2017

When our kids are coming to visit us, my husband and I are like two aging chihuahuas _ not quite as quick on our paws as we once were, but still bug-eyed and quivery with excitement.

On his way out the door to pick up last minute supplies, my husband asked, “Should I get a quart or a half-gallon of milk?”

“Are you kidding?” I said. “Get a gallon. And make sure it’s whole fat and organic.”

Meanwhile, I was hip-deep in making potato salad. It’s one of the few things I can do without burning it to a crisp. The house was clean. The fridge was full, except for the potato salad and the milk Papa Mark would bring back.

Fresh sheets were on the guest bed. An air mattress was pumped up (thanks to auto-inflation) and ready for 5-year-0ld Charlotte to flatten it. And a Pac’n’Play sat in the closet (awaiting assembly by someone a lot smarter than I am) for 4-months-old Archer.

That’s when I remembered the high chair.

It was still stowed in the garage behind stuff I didn’t want to move. I made a mental note (one I’d promptly forget) to tell Papa Mark to drag it out, clean it up and bring it inside.

While waiting for the potatoes to boil (how can something so simple take so long?) I grabbed a broom to go sweep the porch.

Why? Because I am a God-fearing Southern girl “raised right” by God-fearing Southern women who might pack their lower lips with chewing tobacco, but would not be caught dead with a dirty porch.

While sweeping the porch, I noticed the fountain was nearly dry. So I pulled a hose over and began filling it at a rate of about three ounces per hour.

That’s when I recalled the potatoes.

Forget what I said about not being as quick as I once was. With proper motivation (such as the fear of a kitchen fire) this chihuahua can move pretty fast.

The potatoes had finally come to a full boil, like an erupting volcano spewing potato water like quick-drying cement all over my recently cleaned stove, counters and kitchen floor.

No, I did not lose my religion. Well, not quite. I was just happy the potatoes weren’t burnt to a crisp. I cleaned up the mess and began mixing up a batch of what was now mashed-potato salad.

That’s when I recalled the hose I’d left running in the fountain.

Sometimes, hallelujah, God takes pity on me and spares me from myself. The fountain was filled to the brim. But unlike numerous other occasions, it had not yet flooded the porch or the entire courtyard.

I shut off the hose, breathing a sigh of relief at not drowning all the quail chicks that hide in the bushes in the courtyard.

By then, my husband was back from the store with $100 worth of stuff we didn’t need. An hour later, he packed up his bass and headed off to play a gig with his band, leaving me to drive to the airport to pick up the kids.

Their flight was an hour late. I didn’t mind. I love to “people watch.” And there is no better place to do that than the airport in Las Vegas on a Friday night. It was almost midnight when we pulled into the garage. The kids were exhausted, but wanted to wait up for Papa Mark to get back from his gig. So we did.

The next day would be tiring in a different way, but a lot more fun. We would hang out in the pool, watch “The Secret Life of Pets” and catch up on all the family news.

Come evening, we’d marvel at the sunset. Papa Mark would grill something great for supper. Charlotte and her parents would splash each other in the pool. And I would get to hold Archer.

That’s a scene we will gladly repeat in various ways with our other kids and grandkids when they come to visit. And each time we sit down to share a meal, we’ll join hands and give thanks for the gift of family.

No one else will care whether the porch is swept.

But I will.


  1. Kate Sciacca says

    Always a joy to read your pictures painted with words…. but, oh my, this time… your distractions. I sure can relate to that. Started to dust, noticed a stack of Father’s Day cards on my night table (for three sons and the son-in-law) – need to get those ready…. off to find a pen, hear the fan running in the hall bathroom…. turn it of… notice the liquid soap dispenser needed refilling… refill that, tosss the soap bottle…. kitchen trash is full, needs to go out… head back to my room with the pen and see the Swiffer Duster on the bed…. oh yeah! THAT’S what I was doing!

  2. Nancy Dolan says

    Sharon, I anxiously await your columns every week. So happy that I discovered them! Thank you for your beautiful writing & insight.

  3. Fred Hernandez says

    I miss you and Papa Mark muchly. I love you and Papa Mark muchly.

  4. Cathy Followell says

    My kindred spirit you must be to pen my exact thoughts and feelings to a T!!!! Sure love your writing!!!!

  5. Elaine Mccaffery says

    Sharon, this column was a tear jerker as usual. Thanks for sharing. I don’t see my family often . So reading about yours somehow makes me smile. So glad your columns gives me something to look forward to every week.

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