In the latter part of this past Saturday afternoon, a seemingly massive Ford pickup stopped in front of my house, and for a split second I had to wonder who was behind the wheel.

Of course, it was my brother, Ian, who I'd been expecting in some kind of rental vehicle from the Sioux Falls airport. Usually, though, he's much more of a Prius kind of guy, or certainly a more mid-sized type of a car — definitely not a pickup bigger than some homes I've lived in.

"I think I checked 'wild card,"' Ian said of his vehicle type.

That's more like the Ian I know always open to a little unpredictability. And though his brief visit (he headed back to Arizona Tuesday afternoon) wasn't exactly a series of walks on the wild side, it was by all means fun-filled.

It had been since last Christmas that Ian had been out here, and of course COVID bears the responsibility for that. He had anticipated flying out at least three or four times year since 2018, when we moved our mom from upstate New York to Worthington to take up residence at Ecumen Meadows, where she currently resides on the Memory Care wing. Travel, however, has been either impossible or ill-advised these past few months, and in the meantime Ian also started a new job and bought a new home. Time for a getaway has been more or less at a premium.

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Mom, though, has changed markedly in these past few months, and Ian felt he needed to make a trip east sooner than later. In fact, he stopped at Mom's first on Saturday afternoon to spend some one-on-one time with her before making his way over to my place. His time was impeccable — it hadn't been long since Zach and I finished raking some sizable piles of leaves in the front yard. Blissfully, we had been baled out a little more than halfway through by a down-the-street neighbor and his mulcher. When I first saw this machine in another nearby yard belching smoke skyward, I vowed to complete the job the old-fashioned way. I caved, though, and if anything feel only somewhat guilty about not feeling terribly guilty about my larger-than-necessary carbon footprint.

That night, Ian was kind enough to take my family and I out for dinner, as he always does once during each of his visits. He's consistently demonstrated this generosity over the years to many, and Saturday night was no exception — though in retrospect we all wonder if we might the right decision on our dining-out decision. The food was delicious, but it was easily the largest crowd we've been in since COVID-19 hit and there was nary a mask in sight (I will simply state we were in Iowa). We are all hopeful that we didn't unknowingly walk into some kind of super-spreader event.

On Sunday, Ian and I both spent time with Mom, went out to a much more socially distanced and COVID-conscious brunch (right here good ol' Worthington), played the dice-basketball game our dad invented sometime in the mid-1970s (that's a blog, or even a novella, in itself), watched a DVD of Game 7 of the 1975 World Series (featuring the game-winning hit by the Hall-of-Famer Joe Morgan, who unbeknownst to us had died Sunday) and threw the football around before Ian aggravated a back injury he'd suffered a few weeks previously. Sadly, this resulted in the postponement of our wiffle ball game we've continued to play regularly for 40-plus years. I'm opting to place the blame on the novel coronavirus, instead of our aging physiques.

Monday included more time with Mom, a trip to Orange City, Iowa (Ian seemed to genuinely like the Dutch flavor), an Ian trip to the shoe store to purchase a pair of Hokas from niece Grace and .... a dead battery on the pickup, which is pretty ironic since the thing pretty much sat still where Ian had been parked it upon his initial arrival. Here's hoping there's at least some resulting reimbursement. I guess that's what you get for going with the "wild card."

As to when Ian's next trip will be, that's yet another wild card in itself. Here's hoping, though, that it's much sooner than later.