The most difficult thing, bar none, about moving from California to Minnesota, was leaving behind five children and four grandchildren. We’ve attempted to entice with tales of lakes and prairies, snow sledding at Roosevelt Park, hay rides at Rick and Debbie’s, more extended family fun, and downright bribery – “If you want to see us!”
This was the momentous week of the First Family Visit. Or any visit for that matter, and it took some doing to spiff up the not-yet-complete guest bedroom and enhance as well as possible a futon on the future living room floor. Since it is a long family tradition – going back to Grandpa Graves – to have ultra-competitive killer games of croquet, that was actually the immediate order of business and it was a formidable first to be able to finally have a yard that accommodated the court and not have to heft the set down to a local park.
While T.M. set the hoops into PVC pipe buried in the ground, I began to dig the fire pit and hoped against odds that the crazy Minnesota weather would accommodate.
As it turned out – the weather came and went and came some more, but just enough to make it interesting and possibly a novel experience for coastal visitors. Number One Son, Kevin and Number Two Grandson, Sam, made it to the Ottertail River Walk with only a few Minnesota mosquitoes to intervene.
And Sam got a driving practice session around the grounds of the now deserted but architecturally impressive former State Mental Hospital.
But it was all about the game. In spite of the fact that my side of the aisle relishes a good round of croquet as well, I am usually toast against these venerable diehards. They take it most seriously.
And hearkening back to the patriarch, J.S.G., T.M. has often said that the only time he saw his stately, serious and dignified grandfather smile with undeniable delight, was when he happened to blast his own grandson’s ball, no matter his age, across the court to hell and gone.
John Samuel must have been smiling down at his namesake this day, for Sam Johnson, against all odds and near-unbeatable opponents, triumphed over dad and grandfather on the day before he left for his first year of college.