Two Generations of Two Families Visit in the Parlor of the Homestead
In between the tour of the new Alton High School in the morning and the evening reunion event, Curt Madison and his mother Grace Madison came across the river from Portage des Sioux, Missouri, where Curt inspected a roof for his brother Paul.
Curt, his wife, and Grace had come to visit us at my father's house on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi just after the holidays this year, and they were the best of company--good talkers and good listeners. Curt's amazingy gifted at reading between the lines of words and if he were not director for the Center for Distance Education and Independent Learning College of Rural Alaska (since 2002), he could easily get work as a Psychic Reader anywhere in in the world. The Maidsons are the type of people the word "charm" was coined to describe, and they genuinely embody this quality.
We turned our air conditioning on for the occasion of their visit...and this is a rare treat and concession in my father's house. He feels airconditioning takes away his body's weather-conditioning and he becomes weaker in the heat when he works outside. And his outside work is his fountain of youth. But, he suggested it this time, and so we sat in a comfortable 80 degrees instead of in the 90s, dripping sweat from the humidity.
Grace brought home-baked oatmeal cookies with three variations on her basic recipe. Grace is the kind of old woman I'd like to be (when I grow up)--intelligent, kind, alert, well-read, well-traveled, witty and gentle...seasoned, maybe?
Pop talked of clearing brush and why he did it: in part to reclaim some of what had been there when he was a boy and grew up on this land. Curt asked him a philosophical question about time and change and memory. In answer, my father went to print out two poems to read: "No Tomorrow," and "Our Heritage." When he finished reading, he handed the three-hole punched papers to Curt as a gift. This is my father's way--both methodical and gracious.
When the talk turned to categorizing memoribilia, Curt mentioned a book he admired: Everything is Miscellaneous,
by David Weinberger that came out May, 2007 (how we’re pulling ourselves together now that we’ve blown ourselves to bits) Then, with relaxed erudition, he gave a spontaneous tutorial on how tags work on the internet and for use in personal collections.
Curt's an amazing fellow whose done almost everything, and is the kind of person who reveals surprises around the corner of every encounter. When I googled his name, I discovered that Curt "came to Alaska in 1971 direct from an undergraduate psychology degree at Stanford University.
"In Alaska, Curt has worked as a riverboat pilot, filmmaker, and biographer. He has a MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii-Manoa (1976) which included thesis research in Samoa and a PhD from the University of Arizona (1999) in Communication. [Wow! Who knew?]
"Dr. Madison flies a two-seat antique airplane on cross country trips whenever his heart needs restarting." Curt told me flying the light-weight plane keeps him alert and is good for a jolt of inspiration.
Grace belongs to the Unitarian church in Alton that my niece's family belongs to, so we have some ongoing connection to her there. She'd emailed me months earlier to find out what I might know about the reunion. So, I hooked Curt up to the organizers (the whole thing seemed pretty loose). Then, we'd emailed right before the reunion and he became my reunion touchstone. Pop loves connecting and being social and suggested they might come over to visit. We were all so happy the timing and logistics worked out.
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- Riehl Life » Blog Archive » A Father Supports His Daughter, and a Daughter Honors Her Father and Family—”Memento Mori: Life and Death Moment by Moment” at Alton, Illinois, First Unitarian Church
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