Eight full days now since we've been gone, and we're all ready to pack up and head home on Sunday. Today was slated to be our visit to see our brother James, who lives in Newfield, which is just outside of Ithaca (an hour from here). James is the oldest, 16 years older than I am but only 3 years older than John. So John calls him last night and leaves a message that we are coming today. At 6:30 a.m., James calls to tell my dad that he doesn't want us to come: he is too busy. We should come during the dormant season, he said! I have blogged before about James. He was a strong personality before his traumatic brain injury, now he is a strong personality with a twist. The whole situation makes me kinda chuckle, because I so much didn't want to go see James. It's always an obligatory visit. I have always been awkward around him. He always seems to be laughing at me. And so naturally, I was tremendously relieved that he didn't want us to visit, but it is still kind of funny that he turned the tables on us. And I do feel bummed for John, who hasn't seen James since his accident 4 years ago, when he was still eating strained plums in the rehab center.
But we enjoyed a relaxing day on the lake. The temperature has dropped a good 10 degrees or more. Sleeping is lovely, and we're all tremendously revived. This evening we resurrected an old Cummins family tradition: Literary Nights. We started this probably 20 years ago, when my brothers' girls were probably 4, 5, and 6. This is exclusively an extended-family event, held on special occasions when we were all together. For a successful Literary Night (and they always are), each person needs to bring a performance piece to share. This can be anything from a poem to a song to a joke to a story. The girls even used to put on skits in full costume. Although for the past 7 years, the whole extended family gets together on many occasions during the winter months, we haven't had a Literary Night in probably 10 years. Mom mentioned it yesterday, and we all thought it sounded like a great idea. (Well, Jesse didn't particularly think so, but he was a good sport about it.) Laurel was tremendously excited.
And so we gathered in the living room after supper. John started by playing his "Randy's Rainbow" song on his guitar. I read a couple of poems. Dad read a bunch of his stories and poems, and Esther told a ghost story. Laurel read a poem and Mom some scripture. Duncan attempted to sing "I am the Walrus." Dad told some more stories. Jesse listened. John wrapped it up with an hour's worth of singing old favorites. Daisy howled. I dragged a very reluctant Duncan and Laurel off to bed while Uncle John kept playing guitar. Laurel's prayer included a "Thank you that we got to do Literary Night!" It was a good day.