Today was one of those rare, remarkable days that you want to go on forever. One that you know you will hold close to your heart for a long time like forever.
We spent the day visiting with my Aunt and Uncle. When I was growing up, their house was the stuff dreams are made of. Affectionately known (at least to me) as “the Funny Farm”, it was full of a variety of animals, birds, and people. I remember, as a child, thinking that it had to really cool to be able to have all those kinds of critters so close at hand. I also remember hearing that the local schools brought kids on field trips to see “the Farm”. When we would leave to return home, my Uncle (a hero in more ways than one – he was a BAKER besides having all those cool critters!) would send us each home with a giant donut. A yeast raised donut, soft and warm, with a sugar glaze that was sticky and sweet and smelled amazing. Mine always stayed in the box until we were well out of Minnesota, thru Wisconsin, and into Michigan. Leaving their house always made me sad, and I would throw up at least once after we left. No sense in wasting a perfectly divine donut – so it would wait patiently in the box for me, until I was done with the bucket. My Aunt also worked at the store – and she had the coolest stuff inside the house, along with some houseplants that really fascinated me. My cousins – I just knew they were the luckiest kids alive!
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to visit the Funny Farm – other than a quick visit to celebrate their anniversary. Mom and I are on a road trip, and the Funny Farm was our target destination.
Today, I saw the Farm through the eyes of an adult while remembering what my childhood eyes saw. The world could take a lesson in community from this magical place. There are a few less critters, and a little less variety – but the diversity and community is beautiful. The horses and the goat are fenced, the birds, ducks, chickens, geese, and guineas roam around at will. The dogs get along with everybody. I can just imagine how that absolutely would not work out well if they were all people! And the people – I am certain that no one has ever been unwelcome at the Farm. Aunt Estie and Uncle Floyd – Janet, Jackie, and Debbie – they are genuinely welcoming – open arms, hugging kind of welcoming. Their kindness and love doesn’t stop with platitudes or pasted on smiles. It runs through their veins, radiates from their heart – doesn’t seem to matter whether you walk on 2 legs or 4, you sport feathers, fur, or clothes.
The Farm is one of those extremely rare and precious places where you feel completely at home, accepted, relaxed, and loved just because you are you. As I see it through adult eyes, I realize now the enormous amount of work involved to maintain this haven. My respect for them is huge, and I treasure the incredible lessons that abound here. They (my aunt and uncle, as well as my cousins) still have a heart for all living things…and I can recognize their compassion, acceptance, and love as the wellspring of joy and happiness that enfolds you at the Farm.
Tomorrow morning, we have to say goodbye and head back home. I am already sad just thinking about it. Puking on the way home is out of the question since I am driving. That Dr. Seuss line about not being sad that it’s over, but being glad that it happened….yeah – still sad but very, very glad that it did happen. I’m going to stop by the bakery – my cousin Janet has taken up the reins from my Uncle – and pick up a giant donut to take home to Bill. And I’ll cry because our visit is over, but I will take so much love and grace with me. And I’ll start planning and plotting another road trip to Minnesota.
Grace lesson? Monumental! Blessed beyond belief to be able to revisit the farm. If I ever feel the need to run away from anyone or anything – I know where I will be headed! (Ooooh – and I got to hold a hedgehog named Tink! Be jealous – be very jealous!) Pictures to follow in another blog post…