My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. My dad liked to drink a little too much and I’m sure my mom was tired of it. I know I was. All bad marriage/divorce things aside, I’ve stayed in touch with my father over the years. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. Of course we did live in the same city for a few years. Then he moved away to Tulsa, then he moved back to Springfield and then he moved to Kansas City where he lives today. No big deal. Phones do work and they do work both ways and I’m old enough to realize that now.
My dad called a few weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to attend a reunion in Minnesota with his side of the family. At first I was excited. But at the same time I figured he didn’t have a vehicle that would make it so I would play taxi. I set that latter thought aside and made some quick switching around at work and by the next day, we were making plans to go. I told my daughter that she was going with us and she was less than overly excited.
My dad is in his early seventies. I know that our parents do not live forever and I figured this would be a great time for us to spend together traveling in the car. I don’t remember much about his side of the family. I do remember his mom quite a bit though. She lived in a big house that I thought looked haunted and she lived there all alone. She liked to watch TV and smoke in her kitchen and I always felt like she didn’t like kids. I didn’t really like going there that much and I did voice my opinion on that deal. My mom’s side of the family was a different story. They were fun, kid-friendly people and I always felt welcome there. For that, I was thankful.
My dad said we would be staying with his cousin Mary Ann. She and dad are about the same age. I don’t remember ever meeting her of course. She had lived in New Orleans, had been through Katrina, had lost her husband to cancer and since moved back to St. Cloud. We arrived safe and sound at her place around dinnertime and she came out to greet us wearing an orangish-red summery dress with a white sweater over it. She was also barefoot and when I noticed that, I knew she was most likely going to be cool. And she was.
Her patio home had been remodeled so it was pretty nice. Her wood floors were walnut I think and I felt like I was walking on one of those smooth walnut bowls that you see in Branson. Her yard also backed up to a school so the open space was really nice. And of course, everything was green. I took several walks barefoot in the soft, bluegrass and the cool, fresh air was such a shift from the way our summer here in Missouri has been. I think the people there thought we’d never seen anything green before. My favorite part of her home was her sun porch paneled with light pine. We had sandwiches and coffee out there. Of course if I’d been there another day or two I would’ve dug my yoga mat out and stretched out a bit.
We arrived Saturday evening and on Sunday we headed to a park for the reunion. Of course, I only remembered two people there and it was awesome to see them. I only wish we would’ve had more time. There were so many people to meet, old photos to look at and of course so much food to consume that time flew by. It was really a nice reunion and I wish my sister could’ve been there and my brother too.
Mary Ann had a wonderful photo album with some great old information as well as old photos. Oddly, there is a photo in that album of my great grandmother when she was younger and she looks almost exactly like me. She is going to have that photo copied and sent to me. I will post it on here when it arrives. Here’s a good photo of dad and Mary Ann, this was around 7 in the morning on Monday just before we headed back home.
Before we could get on the highway, dad took us around to some old houses that he remembered spending time at. The most impressive was this one. I guess his grandma lived there when he was 10. This house was pretty much ginormous and the backyard was pretty much the Mississippi River. That was pretty cool.
We arrived home on Monday evening around 9:30. Lauren pretty much acted like she didn’t have a good time, but I know she did. There were no kids her age there at all so I know she was bored. Luckily (I never thought I’d say this) she had her iPhone for entertainment and I didn’t scold her for using it.
Though this was a short trip, it was definitely one that I will not forget. I think we all reach an age where time gets more important and so do the people that we share that time with. I am thankful that my father asked me to go on this journey and definitely extend my gratitude to Mary Ann for her hospitality. St. Cloud Minnesota was truly a beautiful place to be the first weekend of August 2012.