Where Do I Begin…….?

♫♪♪…to tell the story of how great a love can be…..? ♫♪♪  No, seriously. It’s quite a strain to have everything be reduced to a song in my brain.

It’s been so long and so much has happened, I don’t even know.

At the beginning of June, we took the first (and possibly last as Maggie graduates in 2 years) focused family vacation in forever. Yes, we went to California in January, but that was for my brother’s wedding. This was the first time we went all together, just our family, since we went to Wisconsin Dells maybe 4 or 5 years ago? And because of that, we overdid it. (What? I refuse to believe you, Christy. You are the queen of moderation and sober planning.)

We took 16 days. We decided to visit Steve’s family on the way down to Orlando – some of whom we hadn’t seen since his mother died in 2007 and one of whom I’d never met. We stopped in Kentucky to visit his aunt and cousins, Tennessee to visit his uncle and new wife and Georgia to visit his other uncle and cousins. Then we spent a week in Orlando. We went back through Tampa, Panama City, New Orleans, & Memphis. Let me just say that this amount of time & mileage is too much for 6 people to spend together uninterrupted.

So, we began by spending the first night in Owensboro. Of course, we got started late and didn’t get into the hotel until later than we’d planned. We decided to meet with Aunt Geneva and Steve’s cousin, Vikki, and her girls the next morning for breakfast. Aunt Geneva is awesome. I’d met Vikki once before, but not for probably over a dozen years. We had a lovely visit and then Vikki took us over to where Steve’s grandparents used to live. It was one of those moments when what your memory holds is very different than the reality, you know? He remembered the house being much bigger than it actually is (probably because he remembers 6 of the grandchildren sleeping in the living room). He and Vikki had a really good time remembering and talking a bit with the man who lives there now. Who remembers their grandparents, knows Aunt Geneva and seemed to be a bit sweet on her. (AW!)

We drove that day from Owensboro to Nashville. Now, I’ve only been to Nashville once before back in 1998 when we made another trip like this and stayed one night there in a hotel that turned out to be NOTHING like what it looked like on the Internet and whose door we had to secure with a piece of furniture to feel even a modicum of safety. This time? MUCH better. We were there during CMA week, so we were told the traffic was insane and, even though most hotels were booked, we were lucky to get a decent room. We got there in time to visit with his Uncle Hank (Henry is named after him) and his new wife whom we hadn’t met.

Let me just take a minute here to say how very, very much I appreciate people from the South. Steve’s family is originally from Kentucky and his mother’s siblings now live in this line from Kentucky to Georgia (and used to be down to Florida) and his brother’s family lives in New Orleans. If I had to describe his family, I couldn’t think of a better description than, “they are good people”. Every time we’ve been down in that direction, I am completely won over by these people. It is such a different mindset in how they present themselves. Nearly everyone I’ve come in contact with is kinder, sweeter, more patient, more interested in you, more congenial, and not nearly in such a dang hurry than the people I live with up here. People up here are ruder and far more self-centered. I say, in general, I’d much rather hang with people down South.

That said, I was blown away by the hospitality of Steve’s family as we invaded their homes. I mean, NOBODY’S home is prepared for an invasion of Henry. Ever. Even I’m not prepared for Henry to invade others’ homes. And I know what he’s likely to do. I’m usually on him like an ill-fitting suit because I simply don’t know if he’ll behave or decide to toss the throw pillows into the lovely display of fragile heirloom knick-knacks. Or go up and smack their 50″ flat screen with his hand. But each time, Steve’s family was understanding and patient with Henry’s antics – even when he’d come right up in their faces saying something about Elmo Cows or trying to “hug” them with his pelvis. They were all so friendly and welcoming – I was super thankful. I’ve never understood people who have the gift of hospitality, because I just plain don’t. I don’t understand it, but I’m thankful for it because I don’t have to feel so guilty about bringing my heathen children into their homes.

We stayed that night in Nashville and then the next day was for the drive down to Orlando. We stopped around lunchtime in Summerville, Georgia to visit Uncle Bill (William’s named after him) and their family. We got to sit outside with them and visit for about an hour or so before we had to get on the road for the final 10 or so hours of travel. I admit right now that I was annoyed. We had to get to Orlando because we had reservations for that night and would have to pay for them whether we made it or not. I understood that we wouldn’t be having any days of travel more than 8 hours, but Steve misunderstood me and thought we weren’t scheduled for Orlando until the next night. So, I put my nasty self away and off we drove.

We made it by about 11pm, exhausted, dirty and ready for bed in a big, big way. More to come!!