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Talkin' with Sal: Picnic on the screen porch

Talkin' with Sal: Picnic on the screen porch


The journey to Wisconsin was far more traumatic than the time with Peggy Jane the Mom, who is doing far better in person than it sometimes sounds on the phone.

Wyoming drivers are used to long stretches of two-lane highway, and that’s the route that is at the end of our drive. Really, the trip from central Wyoming to Green Bay could not be easier. As I told a friend not long ago, you get on 90 and stay on it until it ends. She didn’t believe me until she drove it herself. Then it’s just a couple of miles to the two-lane that ends at the 41, which takes us just a couple of miles from Mom’s.

But on the two-lane two weeks ago, we encountered tragedy on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

We were the second vehicle to come upon a horrendous wreck. The occupants of the first vehicle saw it happen. The theory is that the driver of a mini van fell asleep, crossed the center line without braking and hit an oncoming semi that took the ditch to try to avoid the crash. The van rolled, killing the driver.

But he was awake and talking as the occupant of the first vehicle got to him. A retired Army medic on the way home from taking his daughter to college, he rendered initial aid while his wife called 911.

Traveling with a retired police officer, I knew before I had the car in park that he would be out and trying to help. He talked to the man, who said he was from Indiana and was worried about his wife.

First responders then arrived, leaving the Army medic to fill out Wisconsin Highway Patrol paperwork as a witness and freeing us to be on our way.

Later that evening, I found a short news item that said the victim had died at the hospital. My companion was sad but not completely surprised. I was proud that one of the last voices the man heard was of the macho guy from Wyoming, who made a career over decades of comforting people who were scared, in trouble or worse.

Mom’s house is as gorgeous as ever, her spirit permeating every inch. We ate a lot of fast food, which she loves. And my sister and I collaborated on a birthday dinner celebration. I made spaghetti, salad and garlic bread with only a little bit of correction from the matriarch in her chair. My sister made mom’s choice for dessert, which this year was an ice cream cake (yum!)

The highlights of the birthday were calls from the three Wisconsin grandchildren, all away at three different colleges, and heartfelt letters from the two Wyoming grandchildren made into cards with recent photos.

We watched a lot of television (Fox News, Showtime and HGTV), and had a great visit.

And on a glorious sunny Sunday, I grabbed sub sandwiches and chips and we convinced Mom to use her walker with me holding her around the waist and the friend carefully steering the walker over the threshold, and had a picnic on her screen porch just feet from her chair. It’s the first time she had been out there since before December.

She noticed everything that was wrong, that needed cleaned or painted or redone.

But what I noticed was that she was there, with us, like she always needs to be.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas


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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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