Mr Husband and I arrived in Grand Rapids before lunch on Saturday. I am writing this account a week later, early Sunday morning. It is always good to drive up my parent's driveway, see the flowers, the familiar shop of my Dad's, the garage and go in the house, seeing my Mom in her rocking chair and my Dad in his arm chair. It is quiet and peaceful and always beautiful. My Mom had a lovely table runner on the table with a basket of silk flowers. My Dad fried up bacon for BLT sandwiches and fried eggs for those who wanted them for lunch. They have a big very deep fry pan that they use. Dinner was grilled salmon, rice and salad. My Mom had two books from Holland that she was given for me; both of the small town called Boerakker. My Mom's parents and their 8 children left Holland for Ontario Canada in 1951. Mr Husband and I went 3 years ago with my parents to Holland and saw Boerakker. My Mom finds treasures at thrift stores for us; three mugs, 2 spoons, a delft framed tile were waiting for us on the desk in my old bedroom. The 2 books and the 2 spoons were actually on the kitchen counter where we could see them more quickly. My Mom had found the delft Dutch spoon the week Cleo died.
Sunday we went to the nearest Orthodox church, where I was chrismated 16 years ago. I recognize various people; most of the ones I was friends with those years ago go to a mission church that was started after I left. A quick trip to Trader Joes and then we went to my sister's house; my niece R. is almost 3 years old and was waiting by the door, inside and ran to through the livingroom to the kitchen when we came; she had such a beautiful grace in movement; very feminine; sudden; beautiful. I held my DV future adopted nephew, M. for a long time, eating with him on my lap. He's a real snuggle bug. We had great conversations and learned to play 7 Wonders. We had dinner with other family downtown and went to my Grandma's place to visit with her before going back home. My Grandma and I talked about family history....
Monday we left for up North Michigan, to see my Husband's sister and kids and his parents. We had lunch with long time friends of Mr Husband about an hour and a half drive in. There was a lovely vintage consignment store and my Husband found a hand-painted Italian platter that he showed me and we bought, plus some inexpensive silver plated soup/gumbo spoons and ladle and 2 beautiful linen napkins with embroidery. It was when I was looking for my box of the hand-knitted washcloths that I realized I left my suitcase (full of clothes and things for the 2 night 3 day trip) and so after a delicious lunch and lovely time of conversation, we went to a thrift store on the way to a Walmart for a change of clothes. The drive there was not as uneventful as we would have wished -- as my Husband was going around a sharp bend with an intersection a woman nearly hit us head-on while turning unexpectedly in front of us into a lane that she was not supposed to turn into. We have no idea why she did this; she never turned her head to look at us; it's like she did not see us at all. 5 minutes later I felt teary and realized it was from the shock of almost being in a very serious car accident. We arrived at my Husband's parents's house in time for dinner that we had with his parents, sister and 3 youngest.
Tuesday we went into town, having a picnic in a nearby park. We went window shopping and my Husband took the boys to the library while my niece N. and I did more window shopping and had a treat at a great ice cream spot. I had a vanilla sea-salt caramel ice cream cone; it was delicious. We went back home in time for the 3 youngest to get ready for their soccer games and went along to watch. Dinner afterwards and Mr Husband watched a movie with his oldest 2 nephews.
Wednesday we had breakfast, my nephew D. played a prank on us by hiding in the trunk of our car and we had a round of hugs and goodbyes. The drive back was better, but one driver in front of us stopped completely and we were about to go around him on the left, when he suddenly turned in front of us while putting on his turn-light. So we almost were in an accident again; scary. My parents-in-law had prayed very specifically for our protection in travel and we had travel prayers before we left, at our far-away church. Clearly God protected us and we are so thankful. We met my Husband's brother and kids for dinner and then went to Aunt I's house, the still newly widowed Aunt; my Husband's Uncle Hank dying just this summer, unexpectedly. My sister-in-law came there as well and we had a nice visit. Aunt I. gave me a beautiful winter plate, a Christmas scene, that I look forward to putting up DV later in our home.
Thursday I went with my Mom to see my Aunt H and my 2 cousins, A and M. It was wonderful; the same routine, jokes, news updates, lunch with bread, a banana, a boiled egg. We went thrift store shopping afterwards, Aunt H coming along. I found a brilliantly white Lenox table cloth, a long one. I am thinking of using it, DV, for a St Nicholas dinner and for Christmastime. My Husband met us there and we went to my Great Aunt P's home in Grand Rapids, near Calvin. She is hoping to get into an independent living place near her home where she will have a living room and bedroom. If she does, she will then sell her house. So I not only wanted to see her again (she is 93 years old now) but see her home of 40+ years one more time. After this we picked up our niece L. at Calvin where she is a Freshman and our Aunt G. and went to Russ' for dinner. Then we all went to Trader Joe's where I stocked up L. "pantry" on campus with lots of granola bars, stroopwafel, caramels, chocolate covered almonds, OJ, kombucha, oatmeal and trail mix. I had so much fun doing this with her and then we went to Calvin and I went up with her and saw her dorm room and put away all the food with her. Her dorm room is super cute. Then we drove Aunt G back home and talked a bit more with her.
Friday's plans changed; it was muggy and humid; we stayed home with my parents and later went to a luggage store in GR and found the exact carry-on suitcase that I had texted my sister-in-law R about as she travels a lot. We found a small cabin bag as well for me. We all went out to our favourite local restaurant and my Uncle L. and Grandma and other family all came. My Mom and I worked on the books from Boerakker (the very small town in the Netherlands); I wrote who various family members were.
Saturday we went to liturgy for the Nativity of the Mother of God and stayed for lunch at church afterwards. My Dad made us hamburgers for dinner on the grill; his burgers are the best! We did vespers that night at home. My Mom and I finished the Boerakker books and talked about family history.
Originally we were hoping to go to the local monastery about 1.5 hours away but with all the traveling and visiting, we were too tired. So today we plan on going to our local church for liturgy and then spend the day with my parents. Monday DV we are seeing Grandma for a late breakfast and my parents for lunch and we fly out DV Monday early evening.
I am glad we saw all the family we did; we never know when, esp for the older family members, when our last visit becomes the last visit. I am really thankful for our family and our shared Christian heritage.