If you’ve been following my journey, then you know that my adventure inward and outward, has coincided with a lot of loss, including the loss of my parents.  My mom was so excited to share my Peace Corps experiences virtually but a fast decline from cancer didn’t allow that to happen.  She died just 5 weeks before I left.  Dad’s spirit was broken without his best friend, and a fall on the ice just 12 days after I came to Ecuador was the beginning of his end.  They both wanted to die in their home, give their body to science, and have their ashes be buried together in an urn, which my dad had made in his woodshop.  They also hoped the family would gather together on a warm summer day, say a prayer and then go enjoy a lunch together.  So we did.
Peace Corps granted me two weeks of emergency leave to join my siblings, and all the 13 grandchildren, and all 5 great-grandchildren from around the country at our family celebration.  On what would have been their 66th wedding anniversary, we put my parents back together again and decorated the urn with pins and badges they had earned in their years of life, business and service to others.

In a graveside eulogy, before many extended family and friends, I thanked my mom for giving me a passion for life and learning, a love for the environment, for travel, for playing games and for the Cubs.  Because of my Mom, I’m connected through history and experience to a large and loving Illinois farm family and I’m grounded in who I am.  But by Mom also encouraged me to dream big and experience all the world has to offer.  I’m doing that Mom, because of you.  From my Dad, I gained self-confidence, a strong work-ethic, a sense of responsibility to my community and the resourcefulness to solve problems and get things done.  My Dad led by example and with compassion.  Because of you Dad, I try to live my life in the same manner.  Together, they gave me a wonderful family, an idyllic childhood and a home, that no matter what crazy thing I adventured towards in life, I could always return there to feel safe, loved and restored.  I thanked them for all of this too.  We had a beautiful service to honor their life, their love and our family.  And in the days afterwards, we sprinkled a little of them in a few more places dear to their heart.  I know they would be happy with all we did for them.  
Then, we had to clear the house of 50 years’ worth of memories and stuff.  I am so impressed with the thoughtfulness and care we all took to sort and share, and find the special mementos that meant so much to each of us from their life, their loves, their travels, and our home.  All these things…. I’m so sad they weren’t there to tell us the stories again about how these possessions came into their lives.  All of the rooms…  All of the memories.  We sifted through hundreds of pictures, told “do you remember” stories, read their love letters, laughed and cried.  It was so wonderful and so hard all at the same time.  Throughout it all, I just kept expecting to see my Dad walk out of his den, or find my Mom reading in her recliner.  Ofcourse, I’ll always remember them there.
Two weeks were too fast.  I cleaned the last of my stuff out of my old bedroom, begged some members of my family to store a few boxes (and a large dining room table!), and wished my brother good luck in selling the house.  That house.  1201 Nottingham Lane.  Sherwood Oaks.  Elgin, Illinois.   My Home.  My foundation.  I’m so lucky for all that I had and I’m so lucky I got to go home one last time to be enveloped in all of the love and all the memories.   
My family in 1992 celebrating my parent’s 40th Wedding Anniversary. 
26 years later, missing our Mom and Dad, celebrating their legacy and all we’ve become.