There are lots of things about getting older that aren’t so pleasant. For one thing, you have to go to work every day, which is much less fun than sitting through a day of classes with your friends, no matter how much my seventh graders complain about how miserable their lives are to me. For another, you will never look as good as you did when you were twenty. As my best friend so graciously remarked while we were putting on makeup in the mirror in Chicago the other week, the older you get, the more tiny lines appear around your eyes when you smile. I guess these are called wrinkles and I guess they have started to appear on my face. Thanks, Randi- I will forever be indebted to you for pointing that out..… Anyway, I think one of the best things about getting older is that I appreciate my family much more than I did growing up.
As a teacher of teens, I have often admired and also questioned students who seem so close to their parents during my conferences with them. Aren’t your middle and high school years supposed to be spent getting in fights with your parents and siblings and desperately trying to rebel at any moment possible? Well, I don’t know about you- but I was definitely a teenage nightmare. This is one of the reasons that I am hesitant to raise kids myself- KARMA….. Like any teenager, I was always embarrassed to have my parents hanging around. Any family trip between the years 1993 and 1999 was most often spent lagging at least a mile behind my parents, rolling my eyes with my sister and viciously criticizing the ill-fitting baseball hat my mother had chosen to wear, or my dad’s misguided outfits complete with shorts, sandals, and knee high socks. Now that I am wiser, of course, I understand these things are completely superficial and are not important enough to get in the way of your relationship with your parents. Probably even the most well dressed parents were mocked by their children for some reason or other.
Since my illness two years ago, time that I have spent with my family has been especially precious and grand. I have such fond memories of the many months my mom spent with me down in Chile, taking my mind off of cancer and everything bad that was happening to me. When my sister and dad flew down also, it was the first time the Timms family had spent two weeks together in roughly ten years. The smiles, laughs, (and no doubt some eye-rolling) from that happy time were definitely a life saver. It’s true that no matter what, your family will always be there for you. Recently my sister and parents flew to Chicago to spend time with me in the city before our wedding reception in Towanda, Jon’s hometown. I met up with my parents in the Parker hotel and had a great day touring the Field museum and showing my mom the sights of Chicago. She has become quite a photographer and I enjoy stealing the pictures from her and my husband and displaying them proudly as though they were my own. My dad had to bow out of the windy, mile-long walk along the lakeshore from the Field museum to Millennium Park, as he was having some problems moving about (another side effect of getting older, I suppose.)
Later that evening I treated my parents to a dinner at Tavern at the Park- the first of many calorie laden meals I have treated myself to since I arrived back in the states. Prime rib, brisket, macaroni and cheese, key lime pie creme brûlée… all of this sounds good until your jeans that you wore home on the airplane no longer fit the same way three weeks later, but that’s a different story for a different time. This is a blog about the importance of family.
My sister, being on a bit of a budget these days, did not fly into Chicago until well after midnight that night so I waited until after dinner to head to her friend’s apartment in Wicker Park and then off we went to the airport. Her plane was delayed, which made me feel pretty old considering I was so tired I could barely open my eyes to greet her. However, when we got back to Mira’s apartment, I was thrilled to be able to spend the night on a blow-up mattress with my sister. You know, so I could feel young again…
The second day in the city was the first time all four Timmses had been together since my grandmother’s 90th birthday last February. It was nice to be able to laugh together and our day was truly magical. I love Chicago in the summer. It is such a walkable city- full of parks and museums and gorgeously tall buildings. There is so much to do that is often more just a question of what can you accomplish in however much time you have allotted for the Windy City. And in typical Timms fashion we had quite a day planned. We started by touring the Art Institute and hurried of course to our favorite section of any art museum: the Impressionist Gallery. When we visited Paris when I was about 12 or 13 and just beginning my awkward adolescence, my Aunt Domnica gifted my sister and me a pack of playing cards filled with Impressionist painters: Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Gauguin… Ever since then it has been an obsession of mine and my sister to find all of the paintings that were depicted in that set of cards. And who says that art can’t be interesting for kids? I haven’t forgotten a single painting from that game and that was over twenty years ago. Good present, Domnica! After the art museum we took a jaunt over to Millennium Park so dad could see the famous reflective Bean and the Crown fountains that spit water from two, large, LED-screen sculptures depicting various faces of Chicagoans. With all its quirkiness, Millennium Park is definitely one of my favorite spots in Chicago, and it was really fun to see it with my whole family, even though we were getting a bit cranky from all the walking at this point.
For lunch, we ate Chicago dogs in the park as it is the touristy thing to do. I cheated a little and had an Italian sausage with ketchup (apparently sacrilegious according to Jon), but I despise hotdogs so it was the best I could do. After the messiest lunch I have eaten in awhile, the four of us headed over to the boat loading docks where we were going to catch our afternoon Architecture Tour. This was the second time I had taken the tour, but apparently I didn’t retain much of the information on the first trip, because it all seemed pretty new and fascinating to me this time around. It is a truly memorable way to see Chicago (or maybe not considering my previous comment…). When the boat tour ended we convinced dad that it would be worth his while to walk out to Navy Pier and see the sights there. I have been to Navy Pier several times, but again, it all seemed brand new to me this time around. (I think possibly that losing your memory is yet another side effect of getting older..)
Regardless, Mom, Ali, and I had decided that we needed to ride the ferris wheel and Ali and I decided that we would be willing to pay up to ten dollars to do so. Luckily, it was only 7 bucks and so we jumped on board and readied our cameras to take pictures of the Chicago skyline in the late afternoon sun. Normally I am afraid of heights, but the giant wheel seemed pretty safe and secure. The three of us had a great time ignoring how high we were and instead figured out that the price of the ferris wheel is
exactly one dollar per minute. When we exited the ferris wheel seven minutes later, we had taken some fantastic photos and were in need of some beer and wings at Harry Caray’s sports bar, a local haunt that the Krumtingers turned me onto several years ago. It was delish and I’m pretty sure we were all a bit tipsy as we headed off the pier to go eat more food. Well, if you know anything about Chicago, I am sure you can guess what typical touristy place we went to for dinner…. And if you guessed Uno’s deep dish pizza, you would be right! We walked from Navy Pier, along Lakefront beach, on Miracle Mile, across Michigan Avenue, and finally found our destination. Sorry, dad- we probably should have taken a cab! (It wasn’t as close as it looked on the map). Forty five minutes later, we were seated around our pizza and I stopped to consider how anyone in the midwest is skinny with all this hearty food around. I also paused for a moment to take it all in. Who knows how many more times the entire Timms family will enjoy such a wonderful day together in such a fabulous city?
I, for one, am very grateful that we were able to have such a day and thankful that I have outgrown my misguided views of family. Yes, families are there to annoy you when you’re younger, but they are pretty much the only thing that matters in the long-run. I hate to use the word “blessed”, so I won’t because I dislike it so much, but my family makes me feel incredibly ……..happy. Luckily, we still have a few more days to spend with the Krumtingers before we begin the long journey back to Chile and I will be sure to treasure and blog about those as well, as I hope to also blog about the fabulous wedding reception thrown by Jim and Sandi in their backyard. I guess I have a lot of time to spend in front of my computer in the next couple days. For now, I will end with a cheesy and inspirational quote that I have no doubt is hanging somewhere in the living room of our bed and breakfast in Grand Haven, Michigan. Ah yes- I only had to walk around the corner to find one: “Family: we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” So profound!