Friday, June 26, 2009
My mother’s pilgrimage to North Dakota
One day back in March or April of this year, my 85-year-old mother told me she’d like to see the farm in northeastern North Dakota where she grew up “one more time.” She and I were sitting in her room at the Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque, the nursing home where she’s lived since early 2007 after several falls and other health events made it dangerous for her to live alone anymore.
“Well, okay,” I said, mostly kidding, “let’s go to North Dakota for the 4th of July this year. Park River [a town near her family’s farm where she and my dad had lived during the early years of their marriage] is having its 125th reunion then, so we could see a lot of people we know at the same time.”
To be honest, I doubted she’d even consider it since, in previous years, she’d refused my enticements to visit this relative or that in other states.
This time, however, after a quick look of surprise that turned to revelation, she replied with warmth in her voice, “Yes! Let’s!”
Still, I was skeptical, thinking she might be humoring me. But I emailed my five siblings to tell them what she’d said.
To make a long story short—if it’s not too late for that—several of her children (all of us between 63 and 45, mind you) who spoke to her in the next several weeks confirmed her desire to see the farm where she’d been born and raised. At that point, I started to make the necessary plans.
And so, on July 2, 2009, Mom, my brother David, and I will fly Northwest Airlines nonstop from Albuquerque, NM, to Minneapolis, MN, arriving there around noon. Then we’ll rent a car and drive 304 miles to Grafton, ND, where we have reservations at the AmericInn Motel for the next four nights.
Grafton is a quick 17.1 miles on Highway 17 from Park River, which—with a population of 1,535 as of the 2000 census—has only one motel. I’m told the Alexander House Motel in Park River has been booked for the last year-and-a-half by folks planning to attend the reunion. But, with help from my sister-in-law (-okay: ex-) Gayle Hove King, I found lodging at the Grafton AmericInn.