My Journey – Moorhead


A couple of weeks ago, I walked around Moorhead, Minn., after speaking all day to kindergartners. I do love the little tykes, but, oh, was I tired! While I slowly walked that afternoon, I remembered another time 26 years ago when I spoke in Moorhead. I remember it well because I was 8 months pregnant with my third child — who ended up being Mike!

My doctor wouldn’t let me travel alone because of my history of short labors. Just in case Mike decided to come early, my mom came with me for a few days of speaking in the Red River Valley area. She had friends to hang out with through a group called PEO, an international organization that provides educational opportunities to women worldwide. We also planned to visit Mildred, my dad’s secretary who had moved to Moorhead upon retirement to be near her sister Viola.

The first night we were invited to dinner at the home of my mom’s PEO friend, and after dinner we made our own sundaes at the Dairy Queen they owned in town! The second night, we went out to dinner with Mildred, Viola and Viola’s husband at a fancy place on the top floor of a bank building. After 26 years, I can’t remember if this restaurant was in Moorhead or Fargo, N.D. But I do remember that it was not in a very tall building, maybe 10 floors at most.

I remember Viola as a very positive person. That day she was so excited about taking us to this restaurant. “Wait until you see the view. It’s magical,” she said. We took the elevator up from the lobby and got a table next to the window. “Isn’t it just beautiful?” said Viola.

I looked out and being a snobby 35-year-old, I thought — beautiful?  Really? All I saw were railroad tracks and the flat Red River Valley. We sat down and started to catch up. It was getting dark as Viola looked out the window again and said, “Every time I am up here at night, I feel like I am in San Francisco!” I was stunned that she saw San Francisco while looking out over Fargo/Moorhead.

But it took years to learn

There was a big lesson there for me, but it took me 26 years to learn it!  Now as I walked a couple of weeks ago in Moorhead, the Red River Valley was just starting to turn green after the long winter. I realized that the prairie is indeed a beautiful place! It turns out, there was another lesson to be learned from that night so long ago.
Since Barry was struck with frontal temporal dementia (FTD), I have wondered whether I will ever travel and see far away, beautiful places again. This makes me so sad. When you are going through a tough time and have big troubles in life (and I have big troubles), it is hard to imagine anything positive. Despite my 35-year-old-know-it-all-self’s reaction to what Viola said up at the restaurant back then, I have decided to take a lesson from Viola’s playbook.

I am going to try to find excitement and beauty even if it is just in my own city. I am happy this memory came back because it has given me a more positive attitude. Thank you, Viola, for this very important life lesson!

As I write this in my apartment on a Friday evening, I realize that Bloomington can look pretty magical at night, too. It kind of makes me feel like I am in Paris or London — if I really use my imagination!

Now I will try to make my daily trips to the nursing home magical, as well!

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23 comments on “My Journey – Moorhead
  1. Susan Rogers says:

    That is what I call putting one foot in front of the other! Hang in ther my friend.
    From the Grandma in the crowd at B&N when you were in Moorhead this time.

  2. Mary Frederick says:

    This was really good. I’m a bit older than you are, and I do know that I used to know a lot more about a lot of stuff than I actually ever did and have realized that I was very far off back then. It’s a lovely thing to realize! I liked the reminder in this today as well as the Viola trick! Will do too! Sending prayers for the magical visits for you!

  3. Nancy Glades says:

    I think there’s a book in this. I admire your attitude!

  4. Karolyn Lee says:

    Very well writen, Nancy. I graduated from Moorhead State University so I know well the areas you are writing about. I still love that Dairy Queen. My sis, who lives in Fargo, and I love this Dairy Queen because it is still the same as it was years ago and you still stand in line outside to order what you want! They have several great museums in both the Fargo Moorhead area.

  5. Betsy Pfeifer says:

    I went to college in Fargo and ate there whenever my parents came to visit…the Tree Top Restaurant, I believe. A wonderful place. Thank you for your thoughts today. Good lessons for us all, finding joy and positive attitudes.

  6. Dan O'Brien says:

    Nancy, my mom was in PEO, too…a rather secretive bunch, never saying what PEO stood for.My mom said “Papa’s evening out.” They used to meet in each other’s homes. My mom confided she had nightmares of me crashing a meeting. But my mom, too, had a profound appreciation of the little things we take for granted…a colorful sunset, a rare warbler in a tree. A lesson I didn’t fully appreciate until she was gone.-DanO

  7. terri shoberg says:

    Nancy, thanks for the i sight!

  8. terri shoberg says:

    Oo ps – insight:)

  9. Cindy Sundet says:

    Thank you so much for this gentle lesson reminder.
    I love ND. It smells so clean, fresh grass, flowers, just fresh. I love hearing the birds early in the morning and the Morning Doves in the evening.
    It is so wonderful to see space… open prairie space.
    It is so peaceful and beckons us to take a “moment or two” to appreciate and enjoy.
    love to you and your family
    Cindy and Scott

  10. Anne Mueller says:

    Nancy, you don’t know me, but we have many mutual friends. I have been reading your ‘My Journey’ blog, often with tears in my eyes. But tonight, you made me laugh! My Grandma lived in Moorhead and was great friends with Mildred! As a result, I have many happy memories of spending time at the Dairy Queen. You are a wonderful writer and I expect that someday ‘My Journey’ will be a book That I will want to purchase. Thank you for sharing your journey, and your visit with Mildred!

  11. Chris Ball says:

    A very touching post. Isn’t it interesting how our circumstances in life can turn us and change our perspective? There are special blessings in the smallest of things, those long ago memories can be such “Aha!” moments. I am pleased to say that I know several people in your story from my involvement with your family over the years…I count those times and people as very special, indeed. Love to you, friend. Keep walkin’, talkin’, writin’ and visiting.

  12. Polly says:

    Thanks again Nancy. I think as we get older, we have a clearer view of what is meaningful in our lives. We also become less critical and are able to appreciate what we may not have when we were younger. I’ve traveled quite a bit and was a bit of a “snob” too. But recently, I am seeing the beauty of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. I love to get lost so I can discover a new neighborhood or little spot I’ve never seen before. Before, getting lost was a major irritant.

  13. sherri rogers says:

    I will take a trip with you as soon a I retire next year!! How does boating don the Mississippi sound to you?


  14. Teresa Krueger says:

    Your feelings of missing the possibility of things like travel are an honest emotion. Good for you for being able to see things in as positive light as possible. You are awesome.

  15. Lisa Ventura Olson says:

    Very poignant Nancy! Goog bless you

  16. Deb Massie says:

    My dad always taught us that every place has its own special beauty. And having grown up in North Dakota, I love the green in the spring and then the gold of the waving wheat in August. I also love the wide open spaces and the meadowlarks. Thanks for sharing your precious journey.

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