Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A family reunion

This weekend we are having a family reunion. No we're not crazy. We will not be picnicing outside. We'll be by a warm cozy fire at my sister Sue's home near Cincinnati. We have much to celebrate.

Last May Dad phoned me to let me know he was in the hospital in E. Lansing due to atrial fibrillation. The plan was to do some tests and a cardioversion to jump start his heart back to its normal rhythm. It worked he went home and two weeks later he was back in a-fib. More attempts were made medically to correct his heartbeat which were not successful. Plans were started to go to the Cleveland Clinic for some testing, evaluation and a recommendation about what to do. Before this started Dad suffered some pulmonary complications and was started on prednisone. He had some nasty side effects with prednisone but being the trooper he is he persevered. The visit to the Clinic was scheduled for August. Before that we had a wonderful family vacation together near Traverse City. At the end of the vacation Dad had a significant episode of shortness of breath so he hiked it back to E. Lansing to consult with his docs and avoid an admission to a very small local hospital up north that wouldn't be able to help him. He ended up in the Lansing hospital and missed the trip to the Cleveland Clinic. You can imagine our disappointment.

After a prolonged recovery and some improvement, Dad was able to go to the clinic. Initially they planned medical management but the results of his tests showed some significant issues with valves and regurgitation that needed to be addressed. Dad and Mom returned to the clinic for more testing. Testing indicated that the only help would be a valve repair and a maze procedure. The family moved into motion to plan the trip to the clinic and support for Dad and Mom for the surgery and recovery in Cleveland. Dad had his surgery the two weeks before Thanksgiving and was able to be discharged to share Thanksgiving with family in Michigan.

Despite a very successful surgery, his recovery was quite protracted due to some really pesky complications that were really troubling. It was back in the hospital where they did some more tests and basically confirmed that the surgery did a great job for his heart but his issues were more pulmonary. He went home and was able to get off some of his medications and off the day-time oxygen. We were all stewing about them spending the winter in Michigan and the picture wasn't pretty. Mom and Dad worked hard on their end to make the trip to Florida happen. Finally, the stars and the docs aligned and Mom and Dad could plan a trip. Today the diocs confirmed they could go. So Saturday they are on their way.

Saturday they'll stop and spend the night at Sue and Tom's. Lee and I will have dinner with them along with Mom's sister and Tom's parents. The group will not be as large as a traditional family reunion but it will be equal in spirit and joy at being together. Rebecca, Cammy and David will have wished them well and happy trails from the start in Lansing. Generation 3 and generation 4 will be far away but they will share our excitement and send wishes for the reunion and the road trip.

Sue's planned a celebratory meal. I of course must share in the efforts so I'm contributing a simple appetizer and a fun dessert. I'll be making Lady Bird Johnson's Mexican Chocolate sheet cake. I made it for the Texas barbecue we had in August and I took the cake to Mom and Dad's when we had a mini Texas barbecue in E. Lansing. Dad loves chocolate. Mom loves it too so it's a winner for everyone. I found the recipe at

Mexican Chocolate Sheet Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Combine and heat until melted:
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1/4 C. margarine (no butter!)
1 ounce square unsweetened chocolate or 2 T. cocoa
1/2 C. water

Sift together:
1 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a bowl stir together:
1/4 C. sour milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the three mixtures well. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.

While the cake bakes make the icing.


In a large saucepan combine
1/4 C. margarine
2 T. cocoa
3 T. milk

Heat until bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan. Remove from heat.

8 ounces of confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 C. chopped pecans

Beat until smooth.

When the cake comes out of the oven let it cool for 10 minutes. Pour the icing over the top and spread to cover.

This is so good!.

1 comment:

  1. I can feel the pounds adding onto my waist just reading the recipe! Have a wonderful time at your reunion old genealogy buddy!!!