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Stories of Our Summer

August 22, 2012

You’ve been seeing our summer in photos because I’m mentally exhausted. Not in a you-should-worry-way. It’s the natural culmination of two decades’ worth of research on a very painful story. My feelings are an anniversary reaction if I’ve ever see one: grief, 150 years after the fact.

So while this season lasts I am taking delight where it is given.

My girls, living, growing, emoting are an antidote, a gift.

Joy, as you’ve seen lately, has come so far in the four years she has been home. This is her latest new skill:  being able to sit and balance well enough to use both hands in play. She can only hold this posture for about a minute before collapsing. But she can do it!

Her increased core strength is also paying dividends in being able to feed herself –very messily! J., her PCA, is trapping her left hand to keep the bowl on the table :). In many ways, Joy’s development is following a typical sequence. She’s just completely on her own curve for time.

Joy is also thoroughly enjoying combining individual skills to problem-solve things like getting herself down off the couch. This is not a photogenic series. But I had to smile at these when I saw Hope in the background. Hope thinks with her whole body, and as you can see, was willing Joy to please, Please, PLEASE! let go and drop onto the floor :).

This week isn’t over yet, but with two engagements and 500 miles of driving down and only a minor appearance in New Ulm to go, the end is almost in sight: a whole week off to clean house and play with the girls before school starts.

Then, with everyone at school for the first time in twelve years, I will start writing the underground railroad article I researched in Ohio and maybe best of all, prepare for an October trip to Sisseton to meet the Renvilles’s legal descendants and visit the old cemetery where they are buried.

John’s and Mary’s grave stones remain to be found. And the one that was discovered when the old cemetery was mapped in 2008, their daughter Ella’s, contains a surprise: it also commemorates her baby sister Mary’s life. Baby Mary, who I didn’t know existed before I read about her on Ella’s headstone, died the same day she was born in 1862. I hope a brush, a roll of interfacing and rubbing wax will reveal more.

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