The Retiree by Jerry Hoem

It’s been quite a week. Wife is a quivering shell of her former self, and I am still trying to figure out what went on. Son-in-law took a pastoral call to Mobile, Alabama, triggering all sorts of machinations. He and Daughter would soon be empty-nesters in their rented palace on Saint Lucia, and his duties there will end in August. His duties included helping congregations in Antigua and Barbados, stuff that would get tiring if it weren’t in the Caribbean. He came here to visit some college students who would be teaching down there, and to arrange his kids’ return from schools for the summer.

Most of our conversations were by smartphone. Schedules have been fluid, except for concerts and graduations, so it was hard to predict who would be eating or sleeping here. There were never more than four extra people in our two bedrooms. We did run out of things like milk and chocolate cake.

Grandson brought a friend one day. He had earlier tested his off-season weight training by hauling the dock fifty feet or so into position for the summer. Then the two of them put the dock in the water, a wonderful service, as I hadn’t figured out how that would get done. Two high school football players, though, certainly know how to eat. They managed to swim and fish and take out the paddleboat and tip over the canoe three times and celebrate with a fire that consumed most of the debris from last year’s storm. You may have seen the smoke.

Son-in-law found an ad hoc college reunion that helped keep him in New Ulm late one night, but he found a bed after midnight on his return. Doors were usually unlocked.

Their three kids all showed up on the island at different times. Scheduled flights usually take two days, with a layover in Miami, where Son-in-law has a brother who puts them all up for a night. His wife is a quivering shell of her former self, too. Her duties will continue until the family gets settled.

Alabama is a mystery to us. We’ve been there a couple times on the way to someplace else. Once we narrowly escaped being flattened by a dump truck in Birmingham. But we don’t need passports. They won’t have a castle above the Caribbean, or friends with sloops, but we can drive all the way there. We reminded them of the song that advises, “Save your confederate money, boys, the South’s gonna rise again.”

When they move back to the USA, they will try to keep only the essentials. One granddaughter wants to keep a dog—they have two—and they are told it’s easier to bring it back here than bring one down there. They also have a cat that lives on the roof but it’s not likely they can catch it. Lots of stuff will stay on the island. There are enough poor people to soak up the leftovers.

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