Today’s journey was a literal one, first of all, as my mom and sisters and I traveled across Kansas today. Tomorrow is my Aunt Annie’s funeral. It’s a sad reason for the trip, and yet none of us would miss this opportunity to be with my aunt’s three children, my cousins, to remember this special lady.
Greg made a very generous offer, before the four of us departed. He offered to meet us on the voyage home tomorrow, with Debbie’s car, so that she can head south toward her home in Oklahoma. Greg’s willingness to meet us in Kansas enabled the four of us to make this trip in one vehicle today instead of two.
Secondly, the journey was one of reminiscing and remembering, chatting and connecting. Debbie graciously drove. We laughed and talked and shared about life. And we pulled up fun memories of long ago trips to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins who lived in a suburb near Wichita.
We made the trip several times by bus, which was exciting for my young sisters and me. I realize now how challenging it must have been for a single mom with active daughters! Most often we traveled by car, sometimes with my grandparents packed into the car with us.
The time spent with my family in Kansas was always magical, interesting, fun. We were close to our cousins, in age and in fondness. How quickly the years have passed. When did we all enter middle age?
Tonight that connection was instantly reformed with the cousins , as if we had all just spent time together last week. There were hugs and tears, laughter and shared memories. After spending time together at the funeral home during visitation, we gathered at my aunt’s home to share stories.
The culmination of our evening was dinner at a local Chinese Restaurant. The buffet style meant everyone could choose what they wanted to eat. We were a big group that grew as other family members joined us. And we were a happy group, mindful of the reason we were gathered, and yet aware too that Aunt Annie was surely among us, laughing too at the tales circling the tables.
Tomorrow we will say our “See you laters” to this beautiful lady. Tonight it was family time, mingled with love and humor, joy and sorrow. And for the first time in a very long time, my sisters and mom and I are sharing a room. When we were young, my mom would tell us stories after we were tucked into our beds, her voice comforting in the darkness and her imaginative tales enchanting. It’s been too many years since I’ve heard Mom’s story-telling. I can’t wait for lights out tonight!