Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The Long Way Home

Becky and I haven’t done much together for the last few years, either traveling or social­izing. We’ve been married for half a century and still love doing things together, but life conspired against that for a few years.

Last weekend, we took an overnight trip together. Usually, Becky makes a shopping trip to Duluth alone, driving both ways on the same day.

This trip meant scratching her shopping itch and getting together with family to send grandson Connor and his girlfriend Taylor off to Detroit Lakes. They leave on March 1 to work at a seasonal supper club there.

So why, in our golden years, were we leav­ing one or the other of us at home?

We had three rescue dogs.

A Chihuahua mix named Benny belonged to an elderly gentleman in Memphis who lived alone. Benny entered a rescue near our house in Illinois after the old man died. He was a one-person dog, and he quickly bonded with Becky. We adopted him, he adopted her, and he adopted separation anxiety.

Benny suffered from kidney disease and a severe heart murmur. We tried everything from diet to medicine to keep him comfortable. He visited a kidney specialist at a veterinary clinic in Eden Prairie. He took more overnight trips with Becky than I did.

Becky worked hard, experimenting with his meals, but he was a picky eater. His illness bond­ed them ever tighter, and he was a doggy basket­case whenever his human mama was not in the house. We could not leave him with anyone for an extended period of time (more than a few hours).

So, one of us always stayed home.

Benny got to the end of his kidney struggles a couple of weeks ago, leaving us grieving but with the gift of being able to be with family in Duluth last weekend. Benny’s sister Gypsy, another rescued dog, is more friendly and less anxiety-ridden and went with us on our over­night journey.

Since we haven’t traveled much in years, pre­paring for this overnight brought some age-re­lated laughs at my expense.

The first occurred before we left home. I loaded a change of clothes and toiletries in my high-mileage backpack and brought it down­stairs. I told Becky there was room enough for her stuff and went on to do other things.

A bit later, I went to the backpack with my Kindle and unzipped my favorite pouch on the front. I saw a female undergarment and a well-used wrist brace. I thought I was a hero because Becky had forgotten both after a previous over­nighter. I popped over to Becky and said, “Wow, look what I found.”

“I just packed those,” she said, shaking her head in amazement.

The second laugh at the decline of my mem­ory came later that afternoon.

Grandson Connor is an accomplished baris­ta at Yellow Bike Coffee Shop in the Fitgers mall. He did some of his “latte art” for us, and we enjoyed hanging out with family.

After lunch, we checked into a hotel near the Miller Hill Mall. Dropping my backpack in our room, I piped up, “Dammit, I forgot to pack my tablet.”

Crushed that I wouldn’t have anything to read in bed, I took Gypsy out exploring near­by empty lots. Later, when we got back to the room, Becky said, “I found your Kindle. It was in your favorite pouch with my wrist brace and undergarment.”

As if I needed more evidence, I’m old.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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