Last week was all about some of the things I love, including my writing work, travel and my family.
I took a road trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a travel writer’s conference. I made it a 2-day drive each way so I wasn’t rushing and trying to cram 11–12 hours of driving into each day.
This gave me a chance to stop through Kansas City. On the first day of my trip, I had dinner in Kansas City with my youngest nephew, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Belle.
Although we keep up with each other on Facebook, I hadn’t seen them since my mother’s/his grandmother’s funeral 5 ½ years ago. As children, I felt close to my nephews, the older ones were only 5 years younger, and Shawn was only 10 years younger. Shawn and Keith had also come with their mother to live with my mom and me after my dad died, so I felt a special kinship with them.
My 30 year class reunion was the weekend prior and although I didn’t attend, I kept up with the planning of the event. There’s nothing to make you realize that we may not have another day to spend with friends and family than to see a list of 15 of your classmates names who have already passed away.
I realized I hadn't been good at keeping in touch, in knowing my nephews for the men they had become.
My youngest nephew is a very successful assistant district attorney and his girlfriend works in finance. They have a house and a dog and we talked about it all in that brief time we had together. He looks well and I’m glad he seems happy. It was a good visit.
As I drove north the following day, I remembered my first trip to Sioux Falls, with my parents, Dale and my exchange sister Angela, who we hosted for a year during my sophomore year in high school.
We were going to visit my sister, Shawn and his brother, my oldest nephew, Keith, for Easter. I still have a Polaroid photo I took of them holding the Easter baskets my parents brought up for them.
I also thought of the trip through South Dakota my mother and I took with our two exchange daughters, Steffi and Meg-Ann, nearly 20 years ago to the day. It was Meg’s year with us, but Steffi had come back for a visit. Dale decided to work through his vacation that year and so Mom went with me to show the girls Indian country, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore.
We headed for Sioux Falls first, though, going once again to see Keith and meet his new baby daughter, Taryn, my great niece.
I was flooded with nostalgia driving up through Missouri, Iowa and into Sioux Falls, listening to Classic Rock on 92.9 The Eagle out of Lincoln, Nebraska almost the entire trip once I ran out of Kansas City station range.
Songs from the 70s and 80s took me back to that first trip to Sioux Falls, as a young teen ready for a new adventure. Later music, especially Def Leppard, which was a favorite of mine that I turned Meg-Ann onto, reminded me of that Girls Trip with my mom and my daughters.
All good memories.
When I met up with my oldest nephew Keith this time (who I also hadn’t seen since Mom’s funeral), he showed off his home and I met his 4-year-old son and his 1-year-old granddaughter, Taryn’s first baby and my great, great niece. I got to see his wife, Ida, Taryn and his oldest son, Jalen again (quite the serious ball player. I will even become an MLB fan again if he makes it!)
My drive home to Our Little House was filled with new memories made with Keith and Shawn and their families. It’s nice to look back, to remember the good times, but it’s also nice to renew old relationships with those we love and to look forward.
That’s what makes life worth living and helps us live it large.
Have you reconnected with family you haven’t seen in awhile? How did it go?