Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Family Is Forever

When I was growing up my family spent many summer vacations visiting my relatives in Seattle. Most of the time we drove, my mom and dad, my brother and me. We always went to spend a week or so - swimming, playing, boating, hiking, and just being there in WA.

This is my Auntie Joy and Uncle Ken's house. It looks much the same as I remember it.
I remember finally arriving after being on the road for 3 and a half days, and my aunt and uncle coming down this sidewalk to greet and hug us.

 I have great memories from those vacations.
It had been quite a while since I had been out to Seattle, so this fall I went out there to visit my aunt and uncle, and my cousins and their families.

I arrived Thursday night after flying for 3 hours, and then riding a shuttle for another couple hours. My aunt and uncle met me at the shuttle stop, and it was so good to see them. After sharing a pizza, we stayed up until midnight, just catching up on new of our families and our lives.
The next morning  my cousin Sue came for the weekend, and that evening Tim and his family arrived. The house was filled with laughter and conversation and it felt wonderful. It was even better than I remembered from those vacations long ago.
On Saturday we all drove out to Brad's house, and we were able to see his family. We visited the pumpkin patch where Heidi and their son, Peter, were working. Even though it was raining, the pumpkin patch was crowded with people. I guess the people of Washington are used to the rain, and it doesn't stop them from having fun!

 Later that afternoon Brad and Heidi joined us as we all returned to my aunt and uncle's to watch football on TV and cheer on the Washington Huskies as they took on Stanford. It was a great evening - even though the Huskies got pounded :)

On Sunday we went to church together, and after we ate lunch on the back porch we had to say goodbye because Sue, and Tim and his family, had to leave. The weekend went by too fast!

Each meal shared this weekend triggered memories of years past when I'd be visiting with my family.  Before each meal there would be a discussion of where the best place would be to eat the meal. "Should we eat in the picnic house, or on the front deck? Would it be better to eat out of the wind on the back porch, or are there too many bees there? Maybe it's a little chilly and we should eat inside." A decision would finally be made, and we'd all help carry food and dishes to wherever we were eating. I remember pancakes with blueberries and raspberries on the lakeside deck; suppers in the picnic house, and sandwiches on the back porch. S'mores by the fireplace in the picnic house, apple pie at the kitchen table, and ice cream in the yard. So many great memories.

The very best part of the weekend was just being with my relatives. It had been 14 years since I had been out there - but it felt like I had just seen them all last month. I couldn't believe how comfortable it was to be with them. We spent most of the weekend talking - sharing details about our lives, sharing ideas, laughing, remembering, just being together, and it felt so good. It healed a part of me that had been hurting ever since my dad died. After losing my dad this summer I was truly feeling like an orphan (my mom has been gone for 5 years.) My aunt and uncle showered me with love, and my cousins embraced me and made me feel like a sister. It was just what I needed.

On Monday afternoon it was my time to say goodbye. Ken and Joy took me to catch the shuttle that would take me to the airport. We hugged one more time, and I promised that I would not let 14 years go by before my next visit.

Thank you, Tim and Elizabeth, Abby and Andrew for making the trip up to spend the weekend with me. I know your lives are busy. Thank you, Sue, for traveling so far to be there. It was extra special to have time to reconnect, to hear about your family and your life, and to share what God's been teaching us. Thank you, Brad and Heidi, Ben and Peter, for spending the afternoon and evening with me. You,too, have busy lives and I really appreciate it that you came back to the house for the evening. And finally, thank you, Auntie Joy and Uncle Ken! Thanks for opening your home, your arms and your hearts wide and embracing me. You truly have a gift of hospitality, and you made me feel a part of your family.

I do not have the words to express the love I have in my heart for all of you. I am so thankful that we are family - both by blood and by our faith in Jesus. You will continue to be in my prayers, and my home (and my cabin) are always open if you should journey back to Minnesota.

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