I’m b-a-a-a-a-c-k …

I’m back from the family reunion. The aircraft I flew in didn’t crash on take-offs or landings, and they didn’t fall out of the sky. No wings tore off, no engines caught fire, no landing gear stuck. In fact, the flights to Tulsa, Oklahoma via Denver, Colorado and back to California were some of the gentlest I’ve ever been on. There were hardly even any turbulence bumps, and only a couple of those stomach-tickling little swoops in mid-air.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my life-long fear of flying. I have only one thing I can attribute this to: the iPod Touch my family gave me for Mother’s Day last May. Really. As soon as my daughter tapped my arm – the signal that we were well off the ground and at cruising altitude, so I could open my eyes and start breathing again – I stuck my iPod’s earbuds into my ears, cued up some soothing music and started playing Wordology. And then Solitaire. I even watched an episode of a PBS Mystery series I’d downloaded.

I wish I’d had an iPod when we flew to Europe and back in the late 80s and early 90s. I wouldn’t have needed those tranquilizers.

The reunion itself was a hoot, just like I expected. Mr. Wren’s family is pretty large. His dad had eight brothers and sisters, and they all went on to have large families themselves. Mr. Wren was the middle child of five. While not everyone in the extended family showed up at Feyote Park in Cleveland, Oklahoma for the reunion, 93 of them did. They ranged in age from just over a year to ninety years. And with the exception of us, the California branch, they all live within a hundred miles of each other in Oklahoma.

It was fun – and a little bit disconcerting – to have everyone I met that day share my last name. I got to meet a brother-in-law and three sisters-in-law that I hadn’t been able to before. I met nephews and nieces, and my first grand-nephew. There were so many names that I gave up trying to remember them all, but they were such nice people – they were smiling and friendly and as pleased as I was that we finally got to meet.

The weather in OK – hot, a bit humid, and breezy – made the rheuma nasty all four days I was there. Hands were constantly sore, and my right knee kept getting stiff and achy. But when a volleyball game was suggested, I surprised myself and joined it. I haven’t played volleyball since high school (when I was very good at it), and while I was less than competent playing it now, I did have a lot of fun. At first, I was berating myself, anticipating severely aching hands and wrists after the game, but that didn’t happen. Isn’t that something? I also tossed a Frisbee around with my nephew, my daughter and two of my sisters-in-law. We had a blast. I haven’t played with a Frisbee in years, either, but I did just fine. I even ran! And tripped and fell! And had to have a bunch of wicked little stickers plucked off the back of my shirt and jeans…

Since coming home, I’ve developed an itchy rash on my forehead next to my hairline, at my jaw line and along my neck. Annoying. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the sulfasalazine I’m taking for the rheuma. Photosensitivity is a pretty common side-effect. I knew that, but I wanted to play. I needed to play.

And that’s a new experience for me. I’m almost 53. Running, jumping, playing with balls and tossing Frisbees weren’t part of my repertoire any longer, and hadn’t been for many, many years. But my weekend in OK taught me something new and joyful – I CAN play, at least sometimes. I’ve lost a lot of weight during the last year, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I felt like I could – and I want more. I’m going to buy a Frisbee one of these days soon. My daughter and I plan to walk to the local park – and we’re going to play Frisbee. The idea just delights me. It will be good exercise and a great stress reliever for both of us.