One Week in Wisconsin

Although I’ve been in North Carolina for nearly 15 years, my roots are Midwest. I did most of my growing up in Wisconsin (I’m a bona fide cheesehead), and most of my family is there, in Illinois and Minnesota. Last week I headed to America’s Dairyland to visit with Mom.

You wouldn’t think getting from here to there could be such a production, but Mom lives 2 hours from the nearest airport and there are no direct flights, with connections being 40 minutes (too risky) or nearly 3 hours. It makes for a long travel day, but a nice plate of sushi helped me pass the time. Thank goodness major airports have turned into shopping malls with terminals. Kayak told me I could actually get to Alaska in the same amount of time it takes to get to Mom in Wisconsin. How crazy is that? And yes, on April 29, it was snowing when I arrived.

But it’s all worth it to see her. Just look at this cuteness!

Looking good at 85!

Mom and I have always lived near one another with the exception of the past 5 or 6 years. It’s been tough for both of us. Sometimes we cry when I arrive or when I leave, and this time we cried when I called to say I had arrived safely at the airport on my way home.

It’s been quite an adjustment now that we’re 1,200 miles apart, but since we have so little time together these days, I try to make the most of what we have. And no matter the distance, we’re always with each other in our hearts.

During this visit, we took a day trip to see one of Mom’s closest friends. Mom and Clara have known each other since they were young girls, but hadn’t seen each other for at least 25 years. It was so sweet to see them together, chatting and laughing like they hadn’t missed a day.

Mom and Clara

We met Clara’s daughter and grandson who were about the nicest people I’ve ever met, and were treated to an incredible home cooked meal. Another evening we drove a full two blocks (it was raining) to see Mom’s sister who had a meal waiting for us too. You can’t drive across the street back home without a whole mess of food being put on the table. I’m all right with that. I cooked dinner for Mom one night complete with sparkling wine – we did it up nice!

I got to catch up with some dear friends of my own, my sisters, and my brother-in-law even took me out for a Friday night fish fry. One thing I miss is a good fish fry. I didn’t realize until I moved south that the Friday fish fry wasn’t a staple everywhere. It’s a Midwest and Northeast thing because of the large Catholic demographic in those regions (no meat on Fridays). The other thing I miss is a nice big bag of cheese curds. These too are found predominantly in the Midwest, Northeast, and Quebec. My opinion: everyone ought to add a bag of fresh, warm, squeaky curds to their bucket list. Seriously.

I had breakfast with friends at the Pal Cafe.
My Grandmother worked here circa 1930s/1940s.
With Sister Jude at the local lanes for a fish fry
Deep fried cheese curds. They make life better 🙂
Fresh cheese curds. Salty, squeaky, and not found in NC.

It was wonderful to see Mom and spend precious time with her. Going home always throws me into self-reflection mode and this time was no different. Life is fragile and fleeting and I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to realize that. But it’s not productive to dwell on the past, so I’ll cherish the present and embrace what the future holds.