Each prior reunion had been held in the basement great room, but this year Dad had to acknowledge that their first mission reunion since Covid-19 swept the world could not be held downstairs. He confessed to me that in his obsessive deliberations he had even thought of going downstairs by sitting on the top step and “like a baby” sliding down on his butt, one step at a time, to reach the regular basement venue. Several disastrous and humorous images of potential outcomes flashed through my mind, and I acknowledged with a chuckle that this might be possible—but how would we ever get back up those stairs? He certainly could not crawl up them “like a baby.” Sarah and Megan moved the sofas and set up 60 chairs, upstairs—59 people came, beloved friends and former missionaries all. Mom and Dad thrilled to see them again, chatting up a storm, remembering the old memories of Brazil and of trapsing through the big cities and along beaches and on farm country roads, remembering especially the people they taught and loved, and singing the fervent songs—and eating Brazilian food! This twentieth reunion would be a cherished memory. A different and quieter assembly occurred at the house, when Brian brought my new grandson Owen to receive our Church’s traditional “Name and Blessing” ordinance. Normally performed in a church setting, Brian had obtained permission to conduct the simple ceremony at Mom’s and Dad’s house, so that Dad could participate. Brian held Owen inside the circle of family men, four generations of Bakers—Dad had maneuvered his new power wheelchair to join his hands with ours in holding the baby as Brian pronounced the blessing and made official the baby’s name. Of course, we enjoyed good food afterward: my big pot of savory chicken vegetable soup. And a fun and festive gathering transpired on Easter Eve, with Brian’s family serving traditional homemade Polish pierogi, with kielbasa, and with my French purple cabbage (baked with bacon, carrots, onions, tart apples, and sweet spices like cloves and nutmeg). I also boiled a dozen eggs for Lila (3) to dye. She plopped the color tablets into clear plastic cups, and I added first vinegar and then water. I coached her in using the ever-awkward wire egg spoon to dunk each white egg and a few minutes later retrieve magically brightly colored eggs. She called the order of dipping: “red” then “pink” then “green” and so on. Her dexterity impressed me. Tooth stockers and eye stickers and fins—this was a dinosaur egg-dying kit—added to her fun. Mom and Dad watched from the next room and chuckled, remembering their own three-year-old children, and then grandchildren, dying eggs at Easter. She called to me “Love you, Grandpa” as the little family drove away toward home. I love you, too, sweetheart.
Pictured above: One of Lila’s dyed-egg dinosaurs.
Pictured below: Yours truly with Lila and Owen and dyed eggs:
Some mission reunion photos: