Human InterestPersonal History


The family is the basic unit of human society. Family members are the people you should know the best, love the most, and desire to be with. In today’s families, members are literally spread all over the world. Jobs, educational opportunities, and individual freedom allow, or cause, that to happen. Our family hadn’t gotten together as a total group since July, 2018, when we took a 7-day Caribbean cruise. Sandy’s and my traveling days are virtually over so we decided it would be easier to have “the kids” come to us rather than us to them! That was the case when we flew our daughter’s family from Alabama to Phoenix on June 11th, and our son’s family from Dallas on June 12th. 

As per Murphy’s Law, we flew them at a time of record inflation, extremely high air fares, delayed and cancelled flights, gasoline prices at $5.59 a gallon, and empty shelves at the grocery. What else could go wrong? Well, when you come to the desert of Arizona in mid-June, you run the risk of having very hot weather. And it was, indeed, HOT. On Sunday, June 12th, and Thursday, June 17th the high reached 111°. That’s HOT. 

The two of us stayed in our own home, but our daughter’s three and our son’s four made a total of seven who stayed in the two-story, five-bedroom Tuscan-style home we rented for them. There were 4 bedrooms up and one down. King-size beds were in four bedrooms and a queen-size bed in the fifth. The kitchen was huge, had more drawers and cabinets than anyone would need plus a full-size refrigerator and full-size upright freezer. There were two microwave ovens, two coffee-makers, a huge granite-topped center island, and a bar at one end of the kitchen. A TV room, morning room, theater room, laundry room, powder bathroom, and dining room completed the first floor. The second floor housed 4 bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms and had a pool table in the center of the gathering area. 

The outside features were the highlight of the property. Adjacent to the house was a three-car garage. Behind the house was a swimming pool surrounded by a massive travertine patio. At the far end of the pool and far north end of the property was a covered, elevated, stage-like, ceremonial area perfect for wedding ceremonies, coronations, and the like. Around the pool were numerous chaise-lounge chairs, tables with attached umbrellas, a gas fire pit, a wood-burning fire pit (that’s two fire pits), a pergola, and an outdoor kitchen—gas grill, smoker, large bar/island. The patio surface could easily accommodate a corn hole game, ping pong table, and several reclining chairs with room to spare. It was huge. At night, the entire patio and back yard were illuminated by strings of lights. Speakers played music from the stereo system in the house, and pool floats, balls, toys, etc. of all types and sizes were plentiful. 

The first evening, Sunday, we invited our former neighbors for pizza and so they could meet our family. It was a fun evening that ended only after we devoured ice cream and most of the special Arizona cake I ordered. Monday morning, our daughter and family took an exciting 4-hour dune buggy (ATV) ride in the desert north of Carefree, AZ. When they walked in the house afterward, their faces and clothes were covered with dust and dirt from the ride. Monday evening, our son-in-law grilled bacon-wrapped filets for each of us, and we also had escalloped potatoes. Everything was delicious and unfortunately, we finished the special cake.  

We played card games Monday afternoon and evening, then Tuesday, at noon time the six “parents” ate lunch at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn. This is a restaurant attached to a boutique hotel that has a beautifully landscaped patio. It was too hot to eat on the patio, so we enjoyed a very nice lunch in their inside dining room. At 4:30 pm, the family, minus Grandma and Grandpa, drove to Anthem to the North Valley Escape room. The escape challenge they chose was called The Arizona Steampunk Railway, a level 7 escape area from which they escaped with seven minutes to spare. That activity was very popular with the family. Dinner Tuesday evening was at the busy and very noisy Thirsty Lion Gastropub at Desert Ridge shopping mall. Our oldest grandson consumed a 14oz boneless ribeye steak that he said was delicious. 

Wednesday morning, our son and his lady friend visited the Phoenix Zoo. The rest of us stayed at the house all day. Lunch was grilled hot dogs and whatever else was available to go with it. Wednesday evening was spent at the Buffalo Chip Saloon, a local restaurant/bar with a national reputation. We arrived at 6:15 pm, ordered drinks and ate our dinner. Then, we waited until their signature entertainment activity, live bull riding, began. It started at 7:30 pm. We had “ringside” (arena-side, actually) VIP seats right next to the railing of the ring. Eight riders attempted to avoid death by staying on the bull for 8 seconds. Among those eight were two female competitors, one of whom was only 12 years old. The first male rider and the older female avoided disaster and held on for over 8 seconds. The 12-year old girl rode a steer for about 2-3 seconds before being thrown aside. The fourth rider was thrown off immediately and landed flat on his back. After hitting the thick, damp sand of the arena floor, he appeared stunned. He got up very slowly, looked dazed, and staggered out of the arena! (Nothing was announced about his condition). Each rider only rides once so the bull riding sessions don’t last very long. Later, at 9:00 pm, a second bull riding session attracts more serious contenders and gives the first round riders a second chance. I think everyone enjoyed the evening. I know I certainly did. 

Thursday, we played cards all morning, grilled hot dogs for lunch, spent all afternoon at the house pool, then had dinner with our old neighbors at their new home in the desert north of Cave Creek. All nine of us had a great time at their home which has 360° views of the surrounding mountains. 

Friday morning our daughter’s family, plus our two grandsons, went to the Hurricane Harbor water park in north Phoenix. The high temperature for the day was predicted to be 111°. In spite of hot weather, the rides and slides were crowded and long lines were not uncommon. Our son and his lady friend visited the Firefighter Hall of Flame Museum dedicated to those who risk their lives to protect us and our homes from the danger of fire. Her father is a firefighter and arson investigator in Plano, Texas, so she had a particularly keen interest in the museum. They spent two hours there then hit the Sugar Bowl ice cream shoppe in Old Town Scottsdale for lunch and an ice cream treat. Pool time was abundant this week, and thankfully the property owners keep the pool and water in top condition. Friday’s dinner was hamburgers on the grill. 

On Saturday, some went shopping while others stayed by the pool. It was overcast and not as intensely hot as earlier in the week so there was a bit of relief from the heat. Lunch again was Costco hot dogs on the grill. Dinner was in the private room, Cellar 24, at the Sorso Wine Room in Scottsdale Quarter. This is a private, intimate setting for a get-together of up to 16 friends and family. A central table is surrounded by wall-to-wall racks filled with the 125 different wines featured by the restaurant. 

Sunday, Father’s Day, was the last day we all spent together. On Saturday night, before we all were to part ways on Sunday, we had a Father’s Day celebration for the three fathers on this trip. We shared memories of our lives together and the week of fun that was just ending. One of my grandsons asked me what was my favorite part of the week. My answer was being with all of my family and playing cards together. The whole week was great. We had a great time, got along without conflict or argument, and still loved one another deeply at the end of the week. 

The time went by quickly. Every minute was occupied and enjoyable. Even if it’s just sitting in the kitchen reading, or playing cards in the morning room, the house was so massive and so beautiful it was hard to do anything but look around and be in awe. In regard to playing cards, some players claimed they lost all the time, but truly, almost everyone won at least one game. No one dominated the winning to the frustration of everyone else. There are so many things to do in the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Cave Creek area that we never ran out of activities. I think everyone  enjoyed the activities we planned and the places we ate, and enjoyed themselves, immensely. I know I did. 

This may be one of the last times we are able to do this kind of get-together. But then, it could be the start of an annual tradition; I would hope for the latter. Having family that’s spread across the country makes for limited interaction. We do Zoom calls a few times a year and hear about our granddaughter and grandsons from their parents, but it’s not like being together face-to-face. The time passed quickly, as it always does when you’re having fun, but we will have a lot of memories from this visit. Hopefully, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be times when the family can get-together again somehow, if we can make it happen!

Reference: None. These are the personal recollections of William Gilkison MD.

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  1. I enjoyed reading about your family visit. Nothing can be better than spending with your children and grandchildren. After hearing about the visit in person from you, I knew it was a very special time. I hope you have many more visits like this.

  2. Love this! I loved all of Amy’s pictures, thank you for sharing this description of your fabulous week. Love you!

  3. Sounds like you and Sandy had a wonderful week with family! I hope you can make a trip to INDY sometime again. I miss both of your smiling faces!!

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