My mother-in-law … let’s call her Lelani — has spent a good amount of June with us.  We drove down to her home in Indiana, stayed 5 days, brought her back home with us for a stay, where we got her to relatives in Minnesota, and then brought her back to Indiana.  In all that time, she visited many folks — some of whom I had never met, and  I’d like to share here.  Wilma and I had taken it upon ourselves to chauffeur Lelani around the state in order to see her longtime friends.

The first was a fine lady named Lily.  She lost her husband last November.  (Lelani lost hers last February…)  Yet, these two ladies met at Lily’s door and laughed and cried and hugged and cooed and giggled and effused… they were so very joyful to see each other.  Over the years, Lily and Lelani had camped together — meaning they and their husbands towed their trailers from campground to campground, sharing time together many times.    The men had gone to business school together; Lelani’s husband went on to work for GMAC, Lily’s husband for some big name corporations.  These two families kept in touch over the years, their kids now grown and gone.  It was clear the two ladies were such very good friends, such bosom buddies…..

Then is was on to our home for a short stop, and then up to Lelani’s hometown and farmstead, where her brother still lived.  A nephew now ran most of the farming operations, but the brother was there.  We arrived to hugs and greetings – the brother and his wife, their grown son and his wife, and their son – and daughter and her husband.  Eventually we were joined by another brother and wife, some more of Lelani’s nephews and wives.  This was truly a family reunion: some had not made it to Lelani’s husband’s funeral in February, and Lelani had not made it back for the funeral of one of the brothers…. Wilma and I shared a supper with them, visited and laughed, got reacquainted… our son even showed up, surprising many.  (I was in on that secret — mwahahahaha…)

We left Lelani there, only to return a week later at another relative’s house in a town 30 minutes away… we found Lelani visiting with a niece from the other side of the family, a sister-in-law and her daughter, and our son.  More visiting, more fun, more pictures.  (By the way.. no pics here this time in this entry …. let the families alone, thank you…)  We loaded Lelani back into our van and headed back home, but we had a stop scheduled first.

We stopped at Lelani’s cousin’s house on a lake almost halfway back to home.  There we saw Lelani and her cousin Alisha hug and smile and grin and cry with joy at the sight of each other…. we enjoyed conversation on their deck, where we met Alisha’s husband Vern and their granddaughter who was spending time at the lake.  More talking, more memories… more new acquaintances.  Vern showed us some of his scrollwork.. crosses, a portrait of Jesus — all done with drills and a scroll saw…. another wonderful visit.

And then back home, pack the car, and head back for Lelani’s home, but first…

Another stop: at Wilma’s Godmother’s home, who was also a childhood friend of Lelani’s…. I had only met her once at our wedding 31 years ago – this lady, Jana, is a vibrant, fun-loving, humorous lady who joyfully greeted us, engaging us in conversation and sharing her baked goods with us…. a very interesting fact: Jana and her husband had served as foster parents to 135 kids over the years – and one of them still lived with Jana (her husband died a few years ago….)

 

At all these reunions, I couldn’t help but see the joy of old friends and loving families engaged in so much love and memories… despite the skeletons in the closet, despite the sad times of lost spouses, despite such life disappointments, it was the joys that mattered, it was the love of life that buoyed everyone.

I have a list of folks I’d love to see again – and they are part of my bucket list.  I suspect those of you reading have a similar list.

 

What are we waiting for?

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