Musings At the End of An Extended Family Vacation in 2017

Starting in their teenage years, my husband began taking our three sons on annual getaway father/son weekends. We have since grown to a family of eighteen with the addition of three much-loved daughter’s-in-law and ten grandchildren. As the family grew, so did the size (and participants) of the getaways.

Our first all-inclusive getaway, 20 years ago, was our trip to Nebraska for my middle son, Gerald’s, ordination to the ministry.  Grandchildren began arriving. Each yearly trip was recorded in a scrapbook. As digital books became possible, it allowed each family to have their own family memory book complete with pictures and stories of our time together. I  am usually several years behind and today is no different as I upload the 2017 book to be printed.

Creating these books feels like a sacred privilege and calling as I do my part to create family identity and connection. I grew up without cousins and grandparents close by.  My parents took us “home” to their families in Pennsylvania each year from the different places we lived – Alabama, Illinois and Montana. In the early years they could hardly afford it. We usually had enough money to get there. Daddy would be preaching, or speaking at a conference. Hopefully we’d have money to return to our home.  

The effort they made has been the impetus for my own focus on these family times together.

The photo above was taken as I returned to a quiet house after everyone had left for their respective homes the summer of 2017. It would be another year until we are all together again in one place. The words spill out onto the screen along with the photo.

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No shouts of children’s voices filling the air
No one crashing through the house
No basketballs bouncing on the driveway
No one needing anything
No toys scattered on the floor

except . . . .

The lone green,
or is it blue, truck,
tucked under the tip of the rocking chair
where I rocked my grandbabies
and where sometimes I still
pull a child onto my lap.

We will remember their sounds,
with no regrets for how they have grown,
nor begrudge them the home
to which they must return.
This is as it should be.

With a few tears
we watch them go
eagerly awaiting their return

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The 1000-mile trips from Alabama to Pennsylvania included some intriguing adventures. One particular year, we set out for Alabama, enough money in hand to get home, plus a trunk full of fresh meat on dry ice someone had gifted us. Halfway home our car broke down in Savannah, GA. Daddy’s creative, resourceful mind sprang into action.

Initially, he asked the car repair shop owner if they would consider taking fresh meat in payment. He refused. ( What would a car repair guy do with all that fresh meat anyway).  He did suggest the restaurant across the street might interested. The restaurant owner was happy to get fresh meat at a good price, Daddy got money to pay the car repair guy. We continued our trip home to Alabama.

Was it coincidence that a restaurant owner across the street from the car repair shop was willing to pay for meat providing the needed cash to pay for the car repair? Call it what you will. What I do know is I have seen God provide in the most unusual of ways throughout my life. Remembering stories from my past, can inform my present, even when I am tempted to doubt that God is still in the business of providing.

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