On December 18th, our family was dealt a whole truckload, when we learned of the passing of my cousin's sweet baby, Georgia Grace. Just 7 months old, she was all sugar with just a hint of spice.
Creativity would be of no use...what we needed was a platonium-powered Delorean.
For days afterward, I walked around in a fog, half-listening to my kids as my thoughts and prayers remained focused on my cousin and her family. I tried to put myself in her shoes, but found I couldn't even wriggle a baby toe's worth of understanding. There is just no pain to compare with the depth of heartache associated with losing a child...and there really are no words one can say to take away the pain or speed up the healing process. Bottomline: there will always be a Georgia-shaped hole on our hearts. I will continue to pray for God's healing grace to help her family find a way to carry on without her.
Steve and I didn't finish with our elf duties until nearly 1 a.m. Christmas morning. My sleep was fitful as I imagined my cousin's family and others like her separated from loved ones...whether by miles, discourse or death -- this holiday season. Never was I so grateful to receive a courtesy wake up call from my children. And, while I loved the new perfume from Steve and the scarf and gloves from the kids -- the best gift I received was good health and togetherness with my family.
After all the gifts had been opened, Steve fixed us french toast that would rival any served in a fine hotel. The recipe calls for frying and then baking the concoction in the oven. He called it a souffle as the egg-soaked bread more than doubled in height as it baked. Afterwards we headed over to my parent's house to share the day with extended family. We noshed on a smorgasbord of family favorites including roast beef, deviled eggs and Steve's famous blackberry cobbler. Later we opened gifts and played a game of Rob Your Neighbor then listened to Steve entertain us with a bunch of old country songs from Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, and Jimmy Rodgers.
The next day we began packing for our trip to see Steve's family in Scio, (Sigh-O) Ohio -- an inaugural visit for the kids. The last time I had made the nearly 1,200 mile round trip journey was more than 11 years ago when I was pregnant with Noah.
Needless to say, we were overdue.
The week we spent in Ohio was both restful and rejuvenating. My MIL made me my very own cherry pie and encouraged me not to share. My FIL introduced me to "fresh side" - bacon that is covered in flour and fried. It's good, but a better name for it might be "fresh side of heart attack". I read decadent books by Alice Hoffman. I slowed down and days passed with little effort. Every afternoon family dropped in to say hello and join us for lunch or dinner. Never in my life have I eaten so much red meat or mashed potatoes. We had meatballs as big as baseballs and spare ribs that would rival those favored by Fred Flintstone. One morning Steve had the opportunity to reconnect with his nephews with an impromptu rabbit hunting excursion. Another afternoon, he spent a few hours giving Noah a private tour of the woods and "crick" he used to frequent as a boy. One of my favorite times was spent perusing old photo albums and listening to stories of his childhood. His name may be Steve...but there was a time when he answered to "Steven the Heathen".
We're already making plans for another visit because time waits for no one. The greatest gift I can give my kids is fond memories.
|Love at first BEEP.|
|Natalie wrapped up love.|
|Don't let that face fool you. Coal was one of her favorite gifts.|
|Grandma Mary and Jack|
|Mom and Alicia compare chocolates.|
|All around the water tank waiting for a train....|
|cousins - Ella and Ethan|
|cousins - Natalie and Jack|
|1st, 2nd and all around good cousins|
|Rise n' shine and ready to hit the road|
|We stayed overnight in Springfield, OH. The kids were never so happy to be out of the car and in a pool.|
|Too tired to leave our hotel room, we made due with peanut butter sandwiches...though Steve 'elfed" his up by adding both potato chips and toffee butterscotch popcorn.|
|Like Father, Like Son.|
|Two Little Monkeys...|
|In Scio, Noah learns to shoot...cans.|
|The view from my in-laws backyard.|
|My MIL Connie and SIL, Joanne wanted to be sure that Natalie wasn't bored at the house. They brought home an empty refrigerator box. She and I spent the week dressing it up with decorations, lights and even a doggie door.|
|Grandma Connie and Natalie|
|Natalie LOVED getting to know grandma's dog - Howie.|
|New Year's Eve we celebrated Grandma Connie's birthday.|
|We made homemade ice cream...twice in one week.|
Joanne, Matt and Heather
|The Whole Gang|