Did you have company over the Fourth of July holiday? My children and grandchildren came from as far away as Texas. It had been - lessee - several years since we had last seen them. It was going to be a great get together, a real family reunion. As the date approached our anticipation grew. Their pictures we had had been taken well you get the drift of grandpa's memory for dates and details.
When they finally arrived (July 3) there were hugs and welcomes all over the place. There were 11 of them: my son and his wife and my two daughters. One of the daughters was able to bring her husband but the other's husband was unable to make it. Then there were the three grandsons and two granddaughters, one of those granddaughters had brought along her husband-to-be. Golly! I'm feeling old. (He seems like a nice guy. I hope it works out.)
They filled up our little house on the lakeshore. Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately since otherwise we would have had to sleep in shifts and on top of one another - some of our visitors had to stay at a local motel.
My sister, Sandra Salo, and her husband live next door. We were all able to collaborate with the arrangements for a grand and glorious Fourth-of-July beach party. And they brought friends and family. I lost count of how many of us there were but we were a bunch.
We had the obligatory bonfire on the beach of course and roasted hot dogs with all the trimmings. Everyone waited in anticipation of Marquette's super fireworks display. While we waited, all up and down the beach people had bonfires. Some of them also had their own fireworks that they set off, sharing the display with the rest of us. In short there was never a dull moment.
Unfortunately my wife, Dorothy, has been having trouble with her foot. She was unable to get to the beach. I kept pretty busy trying to be both at the beach and at the house at the same time. At my age that's no small thing.
The moment finally came. Marquette's fireworks display was set off to the oohs and aahs of everyone watching. Later, in the "full dark," the kids donned "glo-stiks" and walked around in the dark like ghostly lighted stick figures. They were a great hit with everyone all up and down the beach. I, who am usually in bed by 8:30 or 9, was finally able to drag myself to my bunk and collapsed. Whew! And this was only the first day of their visit.
Friday there was a trip to Sugarloaf Mountain for some, a side trip to Presque Isle for others and, of course, the enjoyment of the bayou and the beach in front of our house. Somebody wanted to fish. Another of the grandkids was taken with catching turtles (which they eventually returned to the bayou). When the grandkids weren't thus involved they seemed to be mesmerized by their I-Pads or cell phones, you know, those little hand-held gadgets that are so ubiquitous. We never had anything like that when I was a kid. I wonder where the world is headed?
Grandpa kept busy seeing that everyone had fishing equipment, life preservers in the boat and that anyone so inclined knew where everything was at the beach house. Things were hectic. Dorothy, miraculously, kept the kitchen functioning at peak efficiency.
Saturday evening we all gathered at the Villa Capri, for dinner. "The Villa" is a favorite-in-memory place of one of my daughters, a "must" whenever she visits.
Finally everyone had to pack up and get back to their regular lives. It was great having them visit. I wouldn't have missed it for anything. But, you know what, it's a toss-up as to what was most exhilarating, their arrival - or their departure?
Editors Note: Ben Mukkala is an award winning Northern Michigan author whose several books on life and living are available in printed and e-book form. Books are available in bookstores and gift shops or through his web site, HYPERLINK "www.benmukkala.com/" www.benmukkala.com.