After exchanging hugs with cousin Wendy and her kids, Megan and Emma, we headed to pick up our familiar, family Truckster that was now fixed thanks to Donny, Wendy’s husband. Driving our own car for the first time in weeks, Greg and I reflected on how lucky we are. We had such an amazing adventure with our immediate family and were so fortunate to return to extended family that were excited to take us in for three nights. And they fixed our car to boot! How did people without good friends and family make it in this world? It may not be the middle ages where people needed to band together inside their castle fortresses for protection; but we need a network of united friends and families forming modern day clans for survival in this ever-expanding world of uncertainty. For a successful life, it still takes a village.
We were also lucky to safely land and make it to the Wendel’s condo during Tropical Storm Debby. Driving across the causeway between Tampa and Reddington Beach, the waves crashed and splashed across the road. Just minutes after arriving home, the road department closed all roads between Tampa and the beaches. Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Welcome Back!”
Inside, safe, dry and glass of wine in hand, I thought about the symmetry to our year; we began our sabbatical year with Hurricane Irene and we were ending our sabbatical year with Tropical Storm Debby. Both storms gave great excuses to sit inside, relax and talk with family. Again, I appreciated the ability of reading signs. When the cheapest airfare to London (within 500 miles of us) was in my long lost cousin’s hometown, it was meant to be that she and I reconnected. It was an added bonus that our kids got along so well. Both sets of kids had a terrific need for family connections so we gave them three full days of bonding time. Wendy and I shared so many childhood memories, but since losing our common grandparents, we drifted apart. After five minutes of conversation, the years fell away and it was just Jenny and Wendy talking, laughing and reminiscing. Unfortunately, our children do not have grandparents that foster extended family gatherings as we did when we were growing up. Either everyone lives too far away or too much in his own little world- Like I did before this transformative year. This fortuitous trip demonstrated the importance of making the effort to see family because nobody knows you like family and nobody loves you like family. (Which is why nobody makes you as mad as family…. Ahhhhhhh! The yin and yang of life!)
With our planes and trains portion of the trip over, we began our final journey in our automobile. After all the planning and scheduling of rental homes or hotels for eleven months, we only have two weeks left to fill before returning to our own beds in Canton. We will be hopping from family to friends and can’t wait for our visits to catch up with everyone.
Thanks you, Wendel Family, for your love and hospitality!
Next stop: Our good friend, Mickey!