Friday, January 30, 2015

Leaving, Getting Together, and Coming Home

Quilts on Display in a West Virgina rest stop
I was all set to post a lovely little piece about a woodsy walk we took a couple of Sunday's ago, but then Real Life got in the way. The Bumper Nana and I spent most of this week up in Illinois. Nana's youngest brother, my Uncle LV, passed away and we went to the funeral. First we had to go to Baltimore, to have the Bumper checked out for the disorder her father had. So far the test results have been inconclusive. We left from Baltimore right after her appointment and ran smack into a snowstorm in West Virginia. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with US geography. West Virginia is mountainous. In the day driving though the Appalachians is beautiful. At night in a snowstorm it is treacherous. We wisely decided to stay the night in a hotel. Fortunately the place we stayed had plenty of room. The Bumper was thrilled. Not only did she get to build a tiny snowman in the parking lot, she got to frolic and splash in the tub, which when you are four is a very big deal. The snowfall had stopped by morning and we we able to be on our way again.

Our refuge in the storm
It is fun to throw snowballs at Mom!
Icy roads
We stopped briefly to visit some friends of Nana's who live in Ohio  at around 4:00pm and then we back on the road. Eight hours later we arrived in St. Louis and realized it was far too late to wake up my Aunt J and Uncle N. We called the hotel at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, and they had just one room left! We were quite grateful.

One room left and we took it!
The next day we connected with Aunt J and Uncle N and the cousins and we all headed up to Saint Ann IL together. The littlest cousins (the Bumper included) thought this was the best road trip/sleep over ever. They laughed and played with each other so much they did not want to go to sleep that night!

I will not say much about the funeral except that it was moving, and I learned a lot about my Uncle LV whom I did not know very well. He would have been very proud at the way his family conducted themselves. His boys, now grown men with wives and spoke lovingly of him, and treated their mother with gentle respect; attending to her needs without being pushy or intrusive. My grown cousins' children got on quite well with the Bumper and even though they all met for the first time that day they became fast friends. Seeing our children interact, reminded us of how long it has been since the family last got together. No promises were made, but I sense a family reunion coming up.
Hangus the well traveled kangaroo.

We did not have much time to spend, and while the adults were somber and mindful of the occasion, the Bumper and her cousins made the most of their time together! They played dress up, rode bikes, jumped on the trampoline, and helped did holes in the front yard (Aunt J wasn't to happy with the kids on that one!).

On this trip we spend a lot of time in the car. It is 8-10 hours to Ohio from where we live and then another 8-10 hours to St. Louis, MO.  Toward the end it became hard for the Bumper to sit still and she want to stop at every rest area we passed. The last time we were out that way the Bumper was younger and slept most of the time, not on this trip! She spent most of it singing songs, looking out the window, and talking to her stuffed kangaroo (for whom I provide the voice) Hangus. When we finally returned home late Wednesday night the Bumper exclaimed: It is good to be home and sleep in my own room with my own sheets!

I echo the sentiment. Even though seeing extended family is always good, the sadness of the event overshadowed the visit. Because the Bumper is older now, she does not sleep as easily in strange places, she became scared a number of times and I stayed awake to comfort her. Watching her fall asleep so easily the other night made my night more restful too.

So now we are home, and trying to get back into our routine, the Bumper is back in school and I will begin training for my first 5k run/walk.

p.s. the sock marches on.

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