Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
Oh, the places we’ll go
By Mark Stoller
In the months of July and August, we’ve managed to go on quite a bit of travel: New Jersey, Texas, Scotland, southern Europe and Illinois.
Currently, the girls are in Europe and because my respiratory classes/clinicals have resumed, I am left at home — again — unsupervised!
In my family’s absence, I have gone back and forth in my mind whether to buy a motorcycle, get some more tattoos or bring home another dog or two from National Mill Dog Rescue (to add to current pack of four). The jury is still out.
The girls have done most of the traveling. Andra and our daughters drove cross-country to help move our dear friend Miss Peggy back to New Jersey. On the way home, they took the opportunity to visit college campuses. Gracie will head off to college after this school year. Five of her college choices are located along the East Coast and the sixth is the University of Texas in Austin — what is she trying to tell us?
Andra and Gracie went to Glasgow, Scotland, as spectators for the World Bagpipe Championship. Their band, the Pikes Peak Highlander Pipe & Drums, will go next summer as one of 190 bands that will compete.
The extended family was in Houston over the 4th of July holiday. I stayed at home to continue attending school and clinicals, care for the dogs and hold down the fort.
My big trip for the summer, after finishing spring semester, was taking my dad back to his small farming town in Illinois for a long weekend visit.
Two years ago, when my dad’s brother and family were visiting us, his brother pulled me aside and instructed me to make every effort to bring my dad back to the hometown.
We could have flown but chose to drive so we could drop in on friends of my dad’s in Kansas City. Driving also allowed him to look at the scenery as we made our round trip. Colorado and Kansas are simply rolling plains with a little green from this year’s rain. Missouri seemed a little more succulent and led into the luxurious farming land of Illinois.
Our arrival and the festivities planned in honor of my dad were akin to Caesar’s return to Rome. His brothers did a great job organizing get-togethers of old classmates still living in the area, coordinating a potluck dinner with 48 Stoller family members in attendance and getting us out to the old farm homestead.
As we drove along rural routes 2200, 3300 and 3630, my uncle gave a running commentary of who used to live, sold or is still living in the neighboring farm homesteads. As we crisscrossed the area, there were fields of corn and soybeans for as far as the eye could see.
What struck me was how the cornfields had been planted over the spot where families once lived in houses, had barns for livestock and tool sheds for farming equipment. The legacy of their time and contribution is lost beneath the soil and the crops growing over the top of it to the point you would never know they existed.
It was a valuable trip. Thirty-one years had passed since my last visit before being stationed in Korea. To my family’s credit, they welcomed me and never brought up my lengthy absence in a negative manner. Being able to reconnect my dad with his family and childhood friends was incredibly important.
As I once read in a Dove chocolate wrapper, “Friends come and go, but we begin and end our lives with family.”