Lack of Wi-Fi and lots of family time has led me to a combined post for a couple days of our trip (and I’m technically still a day behind!)
Day 3 we left the country farm living home of my Uncle V to visit my Aunt N. We left behind the chickens and cows for big dogs. My aunt and uncle who we visited and stayed with on Day 3 of our trip, rescue Great Danes. The Girl absolutely loves animals and will some day I’m sure own a huge farm with every type of animal you can think of (seriously we were watching a show the other day and she told me that porcupines are cute and she wants one!) So between the sweet cat who will reach out and gently paw you if you stop petting her to the giant dogs who slobber on you and love to be pet, the Girl was in heaven. The picture below was taken with 2 of the 3 rescue dogs who currently call my Aunt N’s place home.
These last two days have been very interesting and relaxing. My Uncle V and Aunt N are my father’s two youngest siblings. They are only 14 and 15 years older than me and my dad often called my brother and I by their names when we were growing up because we looked like them. To this day my aunt calls me her “mini-me”. I really enjoy talking with them about life and things I’m learning. They are both great listeners and have some amazing insights. And I realize they have and do deal with some of the same things I do as I walk this journey. I truly cherish my time with them.
On Day 4 we left my Aunt N’s house and went to visit my SIL (sister-in-law) and FIL (Father-in-law) in the little town my husband grew up in. We grew up in neighboring towns and his did not have a high school so they were sent to my town. That is when my husband and I met and then started dating our Senior Year. My SIL and I drove around both towns with the Girl and showed her all our old stomping grounds (at least the ones that are still there) and told her stories about our high school years. We even took her to the local hamburger joint that was so popular and she now says she wants to drive across two states from now on for their burgers and shakes. (She says the shakes are even better than In-N-Out!)
We ended the day by going to visit my grandmother. She lives in the country and next door to the house I grew up in (next door translates to there being a field between the houses where I used to keep my horses). My childhood home has gone through multiple hands since I moved out and it was sad to see it in such a state of disrepair after my parents spent so much time during my childhood keeping it up and nice looking. However, that is one thing I noted with the entire town – some things have stayed the same, but a lot has changed – some good, some bad. It is a bit bittersweet at times. Yet the reality is nothing ever stays the same and while we can look back and acknowledge the memories, we have to constantly move forward and allow change into our lives.
Nothing brought this home more than my grandmother’s old home videos. She keeps a spiral notebook where she has numbered all her VHS tapes (yes! I said VHS tapes!) and has a brief description of what is on each one. Growing up I remember getting annoyed at times that grandma always had that darn video camera out – but now I am so happy that she did this. These videos are precious.
While I was growing up and my grandfather was still alive we had family reunions every year which included extended families. I did not realize quite how rare this was until later in my life. My grandfather and grandmother’s brother and sisters and all their children and grandchildren attended these as well as many of the in-laws and their families. These are childhood memories I cherish.
We watched videos of these family reunions – one being from 1986. Everyone was so young and I saw some people I had not thought of for years. The Girl loved seeing myself and her uncle as such young children. My brother in his half shirt and me with my girl mullet, braces and big bubble glasses. We also watched family get togethers like a surprise birthday party we had for my Aunt N and even a video of me right before one of the Prom’s I attended in High School.
It was really cool to watch these with my daughter and see her reaction. To see people who in some cases I have not seen or even thought of in years. To hear my grandfather’s voice (he died of cancer when I was in 8th grade). I remember always thinking Tommy Lee Jones reminded me of my grandfather. I thought it was just because in the mini-series “Lonesome Dove” he looked like my grandfather. However, watching the videos I realized they actually sound exactly alike. Maybe that is why I have always liked Tommy Lee Jones so much.
All in all these days were amazing. It was a great look back into my past and a way to revisit amazing memories. I realize now that I am older what our family shared was one of a kind and not necessarily what everyone experienced growing up. And it made me realize how much I have grown over the years and how far I have come. It has made me realize how proud I am of myself – where I came from, where I have been and where I am headed now. So here’s to family, walks down memory lane and progress. May we never stop growing and never stop cherishing where we have been.