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In July, Maria prepared for the lead role in Kiss Me Kate! at Tiffin's Ritz Theatre. Opening weekend, we hosted a cookout in our jungle of a backyard. The dramatic transformation from grass to garden featured fast growing poplars, butterfly bushes, a small pond, and colorful blooms of flowers I couldn’t begin to identify. The beautiful variety of hostas had been gifts from my grandma’s farm and my brother’s garden. John called the garden his therapy.
I acquired poison ivy easily, a fact that provided me with a convenient excuse to avoid weeding. Even without an excuse, the group home demanded my time as I trained a new manager and prepared to leave everything in good order.
The same day as our cookout, we filled up the front row of the theater with our extended family to see Kiss Me Kate! When the play ended we jumped up, the first to our feet for the standing ovation. My talented Maria had another weekend of performances and an additional new job as an admission tour guide for Heidelberg College. She stayed home while John drove with Beth and me from Ohio to Massachusetts for his first Harvard visit.
At Peggy’s suggestion, we met with the head coach of the Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving team. We had heard about Caroline Miller, a deaf swimmer on the Harvard team who graduated in 1996, but we understood a quad had no hope of finishing a college race in the top three at any meet.
“I needed a pool to swim,” Beth said.
Coach Morawski congratulated her on National Team status and mentioned limited lane space during team practices and how their workouts could overtax the upper body of a paralyzed swimmer. All valid concerns. At that point, we thought the meeting was over.
An unexpected invitation followed when the coach offered the position of team manager to Beth. As manager, she could practice once a week with the team and swim a second time each week with the team's assistant coach.
More than anticipated, Beth happily agreed and planned to swim additional days each week on her own.
Our next stop: the disability services office, Beth and I interviewed prospects for an assistant. A friendly graduate student named Rakhi would share Beth’s dorm room in September.
In Harvard Square, talented street performers entertained us. We listened to an older gentleman play an unusual string instrument. I added coins to the Kleenex box he set out for tips. We bought a few books at the Harvard Coop and ended the trip with our first meal at Legal Seafood in Kendall Square. We shared a Boston cream pie for dessert and posed for pictures by the fish sculpture near the entrance. On the way back to our hotel, Beth showed John how to start the unique chimes in the Kendall Square T station. We left metal tubes singing between the trains.
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