By Barb Arland-Fye
Summer passes as swiftly as the ethereal rainbow I savored on my way home from work last Friday. But memories from these sun-kissed days can last a lifetime.
In the midst of a hectic weekend, I found a voice-mail message from my friend Gail inviting me to the last day of the Mississippi Valley Fair. Each of us has one adult son with autism and Gail wanted an opportunity for the four of us to get together. I contemplated saying “No thank you.” My dance card for the weekend was full.
But I heard that tiny whispering sound of God that the prophet Elijah heard, and knew how I should respond. That Sunday five of us toured the fair (my younger son Patrick joined us). We strolled the midway in search of the carousel, which we rode twice, and visited the exhibition hall. We viewed prize-winning sunflowers and cabbages, baked bread resembling an alligator and a toucan, and quilts and clothing among other things.
The dizzying sights and boisterous sounds of a fair can overwhelm individuals with autism, but Colin and Gail’s son, Josh, absorbed it all without incident. We had a wonderful time.
Our carefree afternoon at the fair didn’t match the summertime experience of my friend Loxi, a dedicated volunteer in the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action office. Last month, Loxi and her husband Tom took off in their motor home for what they anticipated would be a carefree vacation.
“We said we were going to go where the wind blows us. We hadn’t planned on where the wind would blow us!” said Loxi, who has a good sense of humor and deep faith in God. The first night out, Tom detected a problem with a wheel on the motor home. They pulled into the nearest town, Welch, Minn., and received permission to park the 35-foot-long motor home next door to the smallish Welch Town Hall.
“I think everybody in town knew we were there,” Loxi said. The next day, Saturday, Tom and Loxi took off, and realized that the wheel issue was serious. They had the vehicle towed to the nearest garage, the graveled grounds of which served as their camp site until Monday morning.
“We were surrounded by old cars and trucks. But we were pretty lucky we had someplace to plug into so that we had air conditioning. It was in the 90s!” Loxi said. “Tom got out the grill and grilled steaks and zucchini … we had a nice bottle of red wine.” At night they pulled the curtains on the camper and imagined they were vacationing in an exotic location. They read books and laughed about the situation until they realized their holding tank was full. Now without a bathroom, “we had to improvise,” Loxi said.
On Monday, their son Todd arranged for them to travel to a condo in northern Minnesota for a brief getaway. Tom and Loxi returned home safely and are preparing to retrieve their repaired motor home. The experience was frustrating and funny, but Loxi knows it’s nothing like the experiences of people living on the margins, the people she has been a champion of for years.
Members of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire had an opportunity to serve people living on the margins last Saturday, at Café on Vine in Davenport. Two days before, I fretted about a lack of volunteers. I prayed, probably demonstrating the faith of Peter walking on water, but God provided abundantly! We had far more volunteers than required, but the café also needs plenty of assistance cutting and chopping generous donations of produce so that it can be stored for future use.
What a joy to see parishioners building community as they chopped vegetables and served up plates of hot dogs, three-bean salad, chips and dessert. I won’t forget those images, or the gratitude expressed by our luncheon guests. A rainbow of summertime memories to reflect on.