When Mel and I visited Angie and El in Saline last March, they removed their robot vacuum from the coat closet for a demo.

“A Christmas gift from the grandkids,” Angie said.

Although impressed with the cute and mute machine, I was inclined to use what we have. Our Miele vacuum cleaner, specifically.

However, the idea of a compact, cordless vacuum concealed in a bedroom closet upstairs grew on me. We wouldn’t have to carry the Miele canister with its long hose and attachment up and down thirteen steps.

Considering our age, inflation, and product shortages, the sooner the purchase the better. Mel’s birthday this week offered the perfect occasion.

So I called Angie for her maid’s manufacturer and model. This led to mention of her first granddaughter, a college freshman and one of many grand-stars who orbit Angie and El’s immaculate household.

“Madi asked us to come visit her at Purdue. Of course we’re going,” Angie said.

Madi’s mother, Christa, ran track with Becky, our eldest and deceased daughter. When Becky won the Class D state track championship in the 200 and 400 meters in 1987, Angie and El sat with us in the stands.

The fall of 1987, Christa’s and Becky’s cross country team won the Class D state championship. Angie, El, Mel and I waited at the finish line with other fans.

Joy unspeakable.

Soon afterward, we sold our house in Detroit and moved our family into an apartment in Sterling Heights before Christmas. Our three girls shared the master bedroom and bath for fifteen months without one spat. Meanwhile, Mel and I saved for and purchased property in Addison Township.

Remember the hot, muggy July of 1988 with an average temperature of 88.9 degrees? Our daughters spent hours in Shoal Creek’s swimming pool while I sat in the shade and studied house plans for our little Cape Cod.

“It’s like we’re on vacation,” Becky once said at the dinner table.

With Angie and El’s home three minutes from our temporary residence, we often shared Becky’s and Christa’s college plans. Thirty-three years later, Angie 79 miles away, we reflected upon that year of 1988.

“If you had a chance to do it over again, would you do anything differently with your house?” Angie asked.

I answered without hesitation. “I’d follow the blueprint with the entrance from the garage into a mudroom with a door to the hall. But Becky needed a closet for the first floor bedroom, so we opted to put the garage door entering the kitchen. We never thought Becky wouldn’t claim her room.”

Angie, a daughter and mother who endures her blows with peace and patience, said, “We can plan all we want, but our children must live their own plans.”

True, dear Reader. The door to the garage in our kitchen reminds me of my folly in revising house plans for a teenager’s bedroom.

However, I plan to turn loose our maid in my first-floor study-library and the closet we built for Becky.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.