Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Family Sized Adventure! - Adventure #9

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. ~ e.e. cummings

Laughter punctuated my adventure number nine in a big way. Adventure nine took me across the country to the heartland to spend a week with my extended family which, of course, means a week of laughter. As long as I can remember, time spent with the family was always full of laughter.

When my mom passed away last year my brother in his words of remembrance described our family as “rather large and wonderful.” Mom had 12 brothers and sisters and Dad has five. These two families have grown over the years. One of my aunts commented to my grandmother this weekend that she and grandpa had no idea what they were starting when Mom was born in 1942. Today the family encompasses the ten spouses who joined the family, thirty some grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

When my sister and I began talking about walking in the Alzheimer’s Memory walk in honor of Mom we decided it would be fun to travel to Indiana and walk with the extended family. So, we began to plan a trip and began to grow our team. When the walk day dawned we had 15 walkers and one stroller….Gabe is too young to walk the whole way yet.

The week was so full of activities, people and stories. The most prominent memory of the week though is the laughter. As I write this I find it hard to put it into words. Until you have made an hour and half trip to another town with several of my aunts you really can’t understand how silly knock-knock jokes can create such uproarious laughter. The fact that the aunts made them up with family names made them hilarious. Here, let’s give it a try…

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Duane who?
Duane the tub, I’m dwoning!

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Randy who?
Ran de car in the ditch.

I laughed as I typed these, did you laugh as you read them? The thing that makes them so funny is the interactions between my aunts and uncles as they are told. You really had to be there.

The tradition on Sunday evenings for my family in Indiana is to gather at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner. It’s not the whole family, but whoever can make it is welcome to come. We got to have Sunday dinner there this week. The little house was filled with conversation, good food and laughter. And as a bonus we got to hear (and experience) Aunt Connie’s chicken in the rinse cycle story. If you are ever in the area, you really have to experience that! True to form in our family, my sister was laughing so hard she was in tears. The great thing about her laughter is she sounds so much like Mom.

Yes, the week was full of laughter and it was full of adventure. As I started the trip I decided that I was not going to let anything hold me back from experiencing whatever came my way. This meant meeting some new people who will remain in my memory for a long time to come.
The first person I met is my cousin’s friend who is called Sweet Pea by just about everyone. After I had lunch with several of my aunts and a couple of cousins on Friday we went back to Bev’s house. Her housemate Sweet Pea joined in our conversation for a while. The thing I admire about her is that she has no regrets in being herself. She fills a room with her voice and her laughter. She kept us all in stitches as she recounted things that happened to her. Some may be turned off by her boisterousness, but if you allow that to cloud your vision you might miss the heart of gold that lies beneath. As Bev told us more about Sweet Pea I saw that heart of willingness. She truly was part of a great adventure.

That night we headed out to Bubba’s Bar and Grill. I don’t frequent bars for the most part. This, however, was a family outing and so I decided to let go and join the fun. My uncle was meeting a woman that Bev wanted to set him up with. They all decided it might be easier if it happened as part of a group. I have to say that Allan and Dawn were both brave to submit themselves to the craziness that envelopes the family when a group gets together. I don’t know that I would want my sisters and nieces along if I were to be meeting a new guy.

When we got to Bubba’s I had to get my picture taken under the sign. There was something about going to a place called Bubba’s that signified small town life for me. Bev decided that I also needed to meet Bubba and he very graciously came over to introduce himself and shake my hand. I bet he never imagined I would go on to write about him on my blog. He’s a big, burly guy just as you might imagine from his name, but Bev tells me he is just a great big old marshmallow. Thanks, Bubba, for being a good sport!

Another person I met on my trip was a lady who sat next to me on the plane. She was a sweet lady from Columbia, SC and was on her way to visit her daughter. Turns out her daughter and son-in-law visited Colorado and liked it so much they decided to move there while he went to school. They had been in the area for about four weeks. Her daughter just had surgery and so my seat mate was traveling out to help care for her granddaughter while her daughter healed. In the short time we had together she told me about her children who are scattered all over the country right now. I have never really met anyone on a plane before so this was a great experience.

Finally, I got to meet my cousin’s girlfriend since she joined us on our memory walk. Laura was in a car accident last July and was seriously injured. We prayed for her and there were times when I wondered if she was going to make it through. Her injuries required extensive rehab for her to be able to return to her normal routine. She worked hard at recovering. Her big desire was to go to graduate school and the accident didn’t change that, it just delayed it. This fall, just a little over a year after that devastating accident, she returned to school to pursue her graduate degree. She is an amazing amount of determination packed into a small package.

The week ended all too soon and there is way more to tell than I can possibly fit into one blog post. I will have to write again soon about my trip to Abe Lincoln’s Boyhood Home and St. Meinrad Archabbey. I was able to get lots of great photos and will be adding those to my blog posts during the coming months.

Adventure 9 was a family sized adventure that will make me smile for years to come.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine…” Psalm 17:22


  1. You forgot to tell everyone how you smoked grapvines in Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen!! Maybe that's an adventure all by itself though?!

  2. Yep, smoking grapevines may be a blog post all its own!!