These cuties are Natalia, Laura's middle daugher and Andrew, Jason and Melissa's son. Laura and Melissa are my cousin Donna's two kids and they make pretty kids!
This is our mini-family reunion photo...minus my cousin Donna's daughter, Laura and her kids who joined us for dinner after we had met at my Aunt Shirley's nursing home. So, sitting with dark hair is my cousin, Jeanne Marie and next to her is our Aunt Shirley. Standing with the cane is my Uncle Ernie with Donna, his daugher in green next to him. Her daughter, Melissa in red is next to Donna. In the back is Jason, Melissa's fiance with their son, Andrew and my Aunt Opal, Jeanne's mom, next to him. Lance, my cousin is in the green shirt and is the son of my Uncle Ernie and he is "brother" to Donna.The young man whose head you can see with glasses is Paul, Lance's son. I put "brother" in quotes because it always amazes me when Donna will say something like, "pass the phone to brother" meaning her brother.
My cousin Jeanne had reserved a meeting room at my Aunt Shirley's nursing home so we could all gather and take photos and chat. Auntie is the one in the middle of this sisters-brother reunion. My Uncle Ernie doesn't hear well and cannot see very well at all. Aunt Opal with the dark glasses is about 90% blind and Aunt Shirley, though frail can both hear and see. Interestingly, the older siblings sat down and instead of talking, reached out to touch each other. No words needed to connect...a touch and a warm hand hold made them tear up and laugh. Though they all live in the same city, due to frailties and issues with sight, driving and more, they don't get together often at all.
I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. EST which was 3:30a.m. here in Alabama. Been a long day but a good day. My TomTom did not want to take me through the countryside as Sheryl had tried to send me, nor would it take Memorial Parkway south here in Huntsville...so had some adventures but ultimately, found my way. Thankfully, my cousins had a super sense of humor...I can travel the world but cannot navigate Huntsville, Alabama. I expect no road signs or building names or numbers in Third World countries but not liking this lack of clarity here in the good ole USA.
I had an encounter of the worse sort this morning about an hour East of Huntsville. I had noticed cones and road construction on 72W but the speed sign I had noticed last indicated 55 mph. I was doing 60 and a cop pulled me over. He screamed at me about rude Floridians and Georgians who race through his state and IF I hit someone, I would be prosecuted for murder and by the way, a fine for speeding in a construction zone is $400! He had me in tears when he said that these workers have families and how would I like it if MY son didn't come home tonight because some Floridian hit him while he was at work? He made his point and he did not give me a ticket but I will surely watch for signs much more religiously.
The day was full of laughter and irreverance. Lance is a pastor, and Paul's wife is a youth pastor. Religion is part of their every day existence. The room we met in had a row of Bibles and Jason indicated he would just pull down the third book of the Bible and refer to it if necessary. And at one point, he started off a story which he was going to share with me by saying, "If you were a woman...." and of course, I allowed quickly that I AM a woman. He has a quick sense of humor and is fun. We told stories, as families do and Lance asked the older set to share embarrassing stories of each other, which they quickly did. The best was when my Aunt Opal shared the story of when she and my Aunt Shirley were interrupting my Uncle Ernie's newspaper reading and he picked them up and head butted the two girls and told them to be quiet...they were.
Justin, Laura's son is the young boy who sent me my Flat Stanley character that has been travelling with me to various countries throughout the year. I have faithfully reported Stanley's experiences in various countries and Stanley has always sent presents and treats back to Justin's class in Madison, Alabama.
He sweetly thanked me and also showed me where he smashed the side of his face on a concrete step while in Mexico, where his dad is right now helping to build their home. Mia, Laura's oldest daughter is combining her quincenera with her 16th birthday and she will shortly start her driver's training classes. Freedom and independence...HA!