Fun with the family.
We stopped at Mom's house first. It's been decades since I'd lived at home, but we started off with a typical "back to Mother's" activity: doing the laundry. We stopped off at the nearest shopping center to pick up the detergent (years on one's own with a wife and family does give a little sense of responsibility, I guess). So, at a chain drug store in a metro area with over two million people, we encountered friendly, chatty clerks. And, in the course of the conversation, we discovered the folks at the store know my mother. She comes in and shares pictures with them after her trips. They didn't say they recognized me, but they figured she'd at least mentioned me before.
We left Mom at her house (she is working on an upcoming move) and went to visit my brother Norm and family. They were, as always, a delight to stay with. And to stay up with. I think we went to bed about two on Saturday morning, and, with church services a definite target on Sunday, we retired earlier the next night: one o'clock. Brother Dave and Sister Sue Ellen (with her husband Cal) stopped in on Friday night as well. What a great time of reminiscences. The shopping cart we used for laundromat visits (apparently Grampa Wilkes bought it for us), the friends we made, the schools we attended (I have been to fifteen in as many years of schooling), the shows we'd put on, and then things got personal. I was not always the best oldest brother, it seems. Well, they're speaking to me now, anyway.
Saturday afternoon we had a great family reunion at a park in Auburn, meeting Sister Cathy's (the sister/brother designations are just to help those who aren't part of the family to keep us straight) grandson Landon and getting to see all his aunts and uncles and parents, meeting Norm and Katie's granddogs (Andy and Stacey arrived too late for any of us to show them what real grandchildren are supposed to look like, since they got there after Landon left), rafting down the river with the brothers who were there (Brother Gary chose not to go AWOL to join us from Iraq), eating Monica's strawberry-covered angel food and butter cakes, forgetting about the ears of corn Dave so generously brought, actually getting the illegal lawn darts to land inside the circle and yet losing the game, taking a hundred fifty pictures (I'm not certain that batteries for digital pictures are any cheaper than film, but the pictures look better and arrive faster), and absolutely enjoying getting to see everybody again. Yes, all Sue's kids were there, as were Ray (Mom's second husband), and much of Dave's family including a daughter's boyfriend who was allowed to float beside us but not in the actual brother-boat, and Debbie, who isn't actually related but we don't check passports. Oh, and Mom was there, since the occasion was a belated 75th birthday party.
Back to Norm's for more chat. We saw some of Nephew Shaun's videos (he creates mini-ads for their church, and they're not only well-crafted but actually entertaining) and got some memories out of Niece Erica. Her brothers Andy and Shaun dug a hole in the back yard, filled it with water and covered it with leaves, then invited little brother Jeff to come over to them. That ranks right up there with pushing the life-size doll out of the tree when cars go by (from our kids).
We made it to church at Auburn to visit most of the family one last time before returning to Kent (Norm's) for lunch and packing.
We had a wonderful visit with family. And I would be very remiss not to thank Norm and Kate for the suggestion to try Holiday Express.
Who are these people, anyway?