Editors Note: I started this post in 2011 and never finished it. I’m going to post it anyway, now, for family reference. I had a computer crash and the rest of the photos are not on this computer, so it may never get done.
We left in the beginning of May to make a trip. My mother called one day about a month previous and asked if we would come up while she was there so she could see the new baby, the children, and so could everyone else. After hemming and hawing, we decided to do it. We left on the first Saturday. We had committed to first Saturday Mass for 5 months and this was one of those Masses. Father would have excused it, but we really did not want to miss it, so we decided to leave after Mass. Dear Father decided to give a special blessing for travelers after Mass. I was then called into the sacristy. “Me?” I asked John. “Yes, Father said he wants to see YOU in the sacristy.” Well, he wasn’t sure if there would be a priest who would give a special Mother’s blessing in New Jersey, so he gave me one. Add confession on that and we were all feeling very prepared spiritually for our trip. Off we went!
We stopped about lunch time at a rest area somewhere in Tennessee. We made peanut butter crackers, had some chips and hummus, and some baby carrots. The kids ran around a while during which time I fed Vincent. We also met a family from Virginia who had five children as well. After we packed up and got back on the road, we made our way into Virginia. There was some severe tornado damage that could be seen from the highway. It amazes me how you can see pictures and think, “Wow,” but when you actually see the damage it is really something else!
On a side note, the whole time our friend “Luke” was calling. This is not so unusual, as he travels a lot and will call the kids. He had called me the day before to tell me that he would be traveling on Route 81 the same time we would and we could meet up. “Don’t tell the kids. Let’s surprise them,” he said. So surprise them we did. The kids told “Luke” we were looking for a Cracker Barrel and he said, “Well, I think there is one in Christiansburg.” We stopped there, I saw Luke’s truck, but the kids had no idea. The walked to the door of the Cracker Barrel and “Luke” opened the door and said, “Welcome to Cracker Barrel.” They were stunned! It was such a great surprise. We ate dinner together and then they played out on the porch for a while. It must have been like dinner theater to some because they were looking out the window and laughing!
My goal was to try to make it straight through to our destination. The plan was to stop and sleep if I got tired. Surprisingly enough, I had a ton of energy for the trip. If we stopped in Virginia, the kids would be awakened in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting up for the early Mass. We would have to leave as soon as possible to get to our destination by 3:00 pm dinner. If we traveled straight through, the kids would have more time with Mom and others and be able to make it to Mass in NJ. On we drove. We hit the Washington DC beltway around 1:00 am. How do I remember that, you ask? I have never before been stuck in a traffic jam around 1:00 am before! Road construction! We finally stopped just after Baltimore at a rest area, and I slept for about an hour and a half. After that, I felt good to go. While driving through the farm valley of NJ, the fog was thick while the sun was just coming up. Had John not been so impressed with the sight, I would probably not have remembered it at all. It was really neat looking. We wanted to go to a Latin Mass in Berlin, but we were just too early for that, so we went on to our destination. We arrived at my sister’s house at approximately 6:30 am. We were going to go to the early Mass (I think 7:30) and the kids had to change. At Mass we had quite a surprise. A nice young Catholic priest was at St. Theresa’s. We also got to see Aunt Maddie.
Later that day, I could not sleep so we decided to go see Aunt Gert in the nursing home. There was a true story about her that her cousin had written and my son Kevin had turned it into a picture book. We were excited to show it to her. Aunt Gert was so happy to see all of us. She is 94 years old and walks herself around in her wheelchair. After that we visited with Mom some. I was able to get about 2 hours of sleep and then it was time for our family dinner. 7 out of 9 of Mom’s children were there, including my brother Joe from Colorado. One of the things that I miss about those family dinners is the funny stories that are told. We were not disappointed as Joe told funny stories of Steve and the like. We laughed around that table and it was wonderful. People were also reading Kevin’s book entitled, “The Memorable Afternoon.” Joe did not have his reading glasses so he borrowed a pair of Mary Lou’s.
Here are some random pictures taken by the children at our Sunday family dinner…
MaryEllen and I went for a walk, ending up in Greenwood cemetary visiting graves of so many that I have known through the years. It is one of the best places to walk in that area because you don’t have to worry so much about getting hit by cars. After that, Aunt Vicki went walking by. Vicki is my “childhood” friend. We are six weeks apart and grew up next door to each other until we were 20 or so. I walked around with she and her mother-in-law, got to see her husband and kids and then she walked back to say “hi” to my Mom and family.
On Monday morning we started the day with daily Mass. Fr. Brian said the Mass, so afterward we got to speak to him a bit. We had breakfast out with Mom and Sue. Here, again, are some photos taken by the children… After breakfast, the children and I stopped at the house of some friends. They didn’t know we were coming (we didn’t either until I decided to go left instead of right!), but they were glad to see us. Ellie and I talked and watched Veronica play while Roy gave the boys the grand tour. There are several pictures that the children took. I’ll try to pick out the best. Roy is very talented in woodcarving and gardening, so there was a LOT to take pictures of.