Even at our age and in a wheel chair, Mary Ann is pretty.  Looking at those pictures of Mary Ann from the time before we started dating and pictures of her in our dating years and early marriage, I was reminded just how pretty she has been all her life.  No wonder I fell in love with her.  I am not so shallow as to have only looked at the surface.  Her personality has always been intriguing, exciting, unpredictable, entertaining and complex.  There has never been any pretense about who she is.

One of the things that jumped out in the pictures from earlier years was her bright smile.  That is one of the things that Parkinson’s steals from those whose lives it impacts.  Facial expressiveness diminishes.  Those pictures were poignant reminders of just how expressive and beautiful that face has been.  They also confirm and reinforce the image that still comes through when I see her.  It is a good thing when people grow old together.  These old bodies still contain young people.  When we grow old together, we can see past the old bodies to the young people living inside.

Mary Ann revealed that she was excited to have the chance to reconnect with her family.  It meant so much to her.  She has felt very disconnected after losing her Dad two weeks after we were married and two brothers, both when they reached the age of 51.  Her Mother has also been gone for many years.

The old pictures and conversation gave our two children a chance to discover more fully the family with which they have had little contact.  Their Cousin Diana and her Daughter Rachel provided through their presence and their stories about family a window into the other half of the gene pool from which our Children have emerged.

Mary Ann soaked it all in and responded as she could.  The night before last had been a tough one with multiple times up.  She crashed during lunch.  She could not hold her head up any longer as I tried to help her eat.  Finally, she gave in and decided to lie down.  After a long nap, she was able to interact and enjoy Diana, Rachel and our Children as they talked about and asked questions about the past.

Last night, Mary Ann went to bed and was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.  This morning, she was in exactly the position she was in when she fell asleep last night.  She had not moved a muscle, nor had she gotten up during the night to use the commode.

Our Daughter, Lisa, along with Husband, Denis, and the girls, Abigail and Ashlyn left for home early this morning.  Diana and Rachel were able to spend the day with us.  It was a good day, a little less intense and more relaxing.  We just spent the day getting to know each other better.

I had thought about giving them a quick tour of the area.  Mary Ann reminded me of the Tulip Festival at some spectacularly beautiful gardens at the edge of a lake on the other side of town.  The flowers provided clusters of vibrant colors, one after another, some more formal and symmetrical, others very natural with an asymmetry that was pleasing to the eye.  The weather was perfect, sunny, cool and clear.  The lake was sparkling and serene at the same time,  The gardens are filled with ponds and streams and waterfalls.

We moved on to travel west into the Flint Hills.  It would have been a crime to come this far and not see those rolling hills, prairie as it was hundreds of years ago.  Some areas were green with fresh grass growing.  During April comes the burn.  All the random seeds brought in by wind and wildlife germinate during the growing season and threaten to overpower the natural prairie grasses. In past centuries, buffalo fed on the grass until there was nothing left above ground. Roots extending fifteen to eighteen feet would assure that the native grasses returned the next spring.

On account of the decimated buffalo population, burning the foreign growth returns the hills to their pristine past.  Through the ashes soon burst the Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass.  There is nothing like the contrast of that bright green emerging through the black ash cover.

The tour of the Flint Hills was a treat for me, and seemed to be so for Diana and Rachel.  We found our way to a little town called Paxico.  There is no grocery or gas station there, at least that I have found.  The buildings contain lots of old things for sale, ranging from flea market fare to expensive antiques. It is not a contrived and artificial imitation of an old town just for tourist consumption.  It is the real deal.  There is an outlet there for the pottery made by the Potter who turned the dishes and bowl that Mary Ann uses.  We have other pieces, bowls and cups and pitchers.  The name is Jepson Pottery.  His studio is in Harveyville, Kansas.

Mary Ann was ready for ice cream when we left Paxico.  We had leftover Grasshopper and Mud pies from Baskin and Robbins for supper.  Mary Ann is in bed and, after a snack and some Tums, she seems to be sleeping.  Tomorrow is likely to be a recoup day.  Hopefully, she will have another restful night tonight.

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