Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kansas, Installment 7: Great Grandmothers, Great Aunts, and Saying Goodbye

We spent our last stretch of days at my dear in-laws' house in Kansas City. The kids got to spend some time with their only cousins (well, first cousins. I guess they have tons of second and third cousins.) a couple of times, including at a special get together we had. James's grandmothers came over from Missouri to spend the day with us, along with a passel of other Missouri relatives (Aunt Caroline, Cousin Dana, and her kids, Caleb, and Olivia, who played all morning with my kids and were rewarded with instant adoration and hero worship) an aunt from Florida (Jane!), an aunt from Kansas City (Libby! No party is complete without Lib!), and my sister-in-law, Lucy, with the aforementioned kiddos (Connor and Eva). Clear as mud? It was a lot of people. James was feeling under the weather that day, so we didn't see him much, but he made it out a little later. We had lovely conversation, went over old family photos, watched the children play, caught up on each others' lives, and had a really nice time.

This family welcomed me into their fold almost twelve years ago when James and I got married. All the horror stories one hears about in-laws - the feelings of exclusion and judgement and awfulness - I genuinely don't have any of that. They've never made me feel "not good enough" for James - not one time. Every family has its quirks, sure, and we're all a band of weirdos. I'm rather fond of these weirdos though, and I get the feeling they are rather fond of me, which is kind of a big deal. I hope I carry that on someday, when my son brings home some bizarre girl with a thousand artsy hobbies and a big heart, who laughs at everything and loves him completely.

Techno dazed cousins.

That's (second? third?) cousin Olivia standing up and Great Grandma Olivia sitting down on the right.

Great Grandma Olivia (Sharrel's mother, left) and Great Granny Doris (Jim's mother, right)

Libby the party animal, on the right

Jane, far left

One of the old photos we looked at . This is my father-in-law as a little boy, crying because his older sister, Martha wouldn't let him on that giant bike. It's one of my favorite photos of him, ever.

"Please do not knock your great grandmothers over. Please."

Great Aunt Jane. She came all the way from Florida to see us. Now THAT is some dedication. Thank you for that, Jane. We love you.

The Weirdos.

And then the time came. I packed up our stuff, checked us in for our flight. Put snacks and crayons and little toys into backpacks. We said our last goodbyes to grandparents and told James, who was going on a road trip with an old friend that we'd see him at home in a week. Jim drove us to the airport, and the kids and I boarded a plane for Oregon.

Kansas, you are lovely. You are always in my heart. You hold my history and my family of origin. You're a touchstone, and I will always come back to you.

Mom, Dad, Jim, Sharrel, siblings, siblings-in-law, nephew, niece, various and sundry other relations, friends, acquaintances, pets - we love you. So much. You know where we are. See you soon.

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