I apologize for the long absence but it was not without good reason...
My "baby" brother is now a married man!
Last week we made the twelve hour pilgrimage to Upstate New York via rented minivan and followed by my sister and her family. Driving through the night, we stopped periodically to switch drivers, down a little caffeine and stretch our legs. Five adults, one teenager, three kids and a toddler- we sure owned those rest stops! (Don't worry, my LEOW friends and readers, we were tactically sound during the entire trip!)
Although I live by the beach now, I grew up in a place where they really, really know how to make good food. We showed up at my other sister's house with a list of must eat food and must visit restaurants. Let me tell you something....did we ever eat... and eat....
True to her word, the New York sister had a fridge stocked with delightful treats and a bag of NY bagels on the counter. We wasted no time at all fulfilling our must eat needs. By the time we checked into our hotel, we had crossed several important foods off the list. By the way, we stayed at a Hampton Inn. If ever you must travel, especially with children, stay at a Hampton Inn. They had a pool and hot tub, a continental breakfast that was amazing and everything was clean. It made the hotel we stayed at during a previous trip look like a brothel.
Not that we spent all that much time at the hotel. There was a wedding going on!
My brother is now someone's husband...pretty amazing stuff...
Seeing aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn't seen in four years was great. My boys finally met some of the huge clan that I come from and I even met a few new cousins myself. The highlight of the day (aside from the "I do's" of course) was the huge bear hug from a cousin I hadn't seen in at least two decades, probably longer. (I've missed you Charlie!) Thanks to the beauty of social networking, I have kept in touch with my many, many cousins in recent years but it was amazing to see such a large representation of our clan in one place. We are a handsome group, I must say. There is not one ugly gene in our gene pool. I am proud to come from such good looking stock.
Watching my brother watch his bride walk the aisle made me cry. As did watching a little girl ask my eleven year old son to dance. It was an emotional, exciting, busy day. The only downside was the absence of my dad. The physical absence anyway. There is no doubt he was there spiritually. I felt him everywhere and knew he was proud of his only son for the man he had grown into.
On the way home, we detoured to Massachusetts to visit my husband's family. His dad threw a great family BBQ with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. It was wonderful to have everyone in the same place for an afternoon. I had the privilege of meeting my first great-nephew. An adorable, squirmy little two month old who definitely won my heart. It was a great detour before the ten hour drive back to the beach.
We made it home in record time, without speeding and without a speck of traffic in NYC. If you have ever passed over the George Washington Bridge you understand the magnitude of this declaration. It was the icing on the cake...the cherry on the sundae...to our amazing week of family and celebration.
Excuse me for a moment while I get nostalgic. When I was very young, my best friend was my cousin Jason. We spent our toddler hood together and there are some adorable photos floating around out there as evidence. As adults, Jason and I lived less than three hours away from each other. We talked often through email about getting together, introducing our families only to never have the opportunity...to never make the opportunity.... Jason passed away three years ago and to this day I regret not making the time to take a road trip and say hello.
Our large family is missing three uncles and one cousin...their absences were duly felt this weekend. Especially that of the uncle I call Dad. The drive was long and the trip has left me exhausted but I am so thankful for the opportunity to see so many loved ones and make some new memories. I can't lie- I am very happy to be home however it was a vacation well spent in many, many ways.
Congratulations to my brother and new sister in law. I wish you many, many years of joy and happiness. Your southern family loves you dearly.