Coming Full Circle

So here I am on Christmas Day in 2020…I feel thankful that I made it to this point. I know that many others have not…This year will definitely be one that goes down in history. And for me, it won’t only be because of COVID-19.

If you have followed my blog, you know I have been on a journey searching for my biological family since the beginning of 2017, after stumbling upon the DNA Detective’s Facebook Group, and being contacted by CeCe Moore who told me about this special group called “Foundling Finders. They became my “refuge” and my “safe place”…Some very special people who understood what I was feeling and they just “got” me. CeCe encouraged me to do an Ancestry DNA Test and she and some of her “Search Angels” helped me find my biological family, but there were lots of twists and turns and mysteries! I have written about most of this in my previous blogs, so I won’t go into all of that again, but there were definitely some missing pieces. And that is why I am writing again.

Back in the spring when I was at home a lot more than usual because of COVID, I read a book called “Little Girl Leaving” by Lisa Blume. This book piqued my interest because I knew there were some situations in my biological family history involving similar abuse issues. I had spent time in therapy talking about it and had done some other reading on the subject; however, I had NEVER read a book written from the perspective of a child-victim and to say it had a profound effect on me, would be a huge understatement. It made me see some things that I just hadn’t been able to understand in a different light. If you haven’t read the book…I highly recommend it, although I will warn you that it is a difficult read. It took me a while to get through it because I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening to the little girl in the book, and maybe that was because it hit too close to home?

Anyway, this book caused me to make a decision to try contacting my Birth Mother, Jean, again. Without going into detail, which I have written about in previous blogs, Jean and I had not really formed any kind of relationship, even though I originally contacted her back in April of 2017, after connecting with her sister and my “Aunt Nan”.

I decided that maybe I had misjudged the situation and had let the hurt and rejection I had originally felt get the better of me without considering the WHOLE situation, and everyone’s feelings, including my Birth Mother’s. So, I started texting her again…Nothing heavy, just casual and informal chit-chat.

Back in March, I was lucky enough to meet some of my First Cousins from my paternal family…The Whitfield’s! Kimberly and Mina are from Chicago and drove to Indianapolis to meet me. Another cousin, Monica, who lived in Indianapolis, and one of my second cousins, Joyce, who lives in Evansville and whom I had already met, rode to Indianapolis with me and the five of us had a lovely afternoon together! They were so nice, so welcoming, and so accepting! It was shortly after, that COVID stopped many of us in our tracks and and I was so very thankful that I got to meet these ladies before that happened. One of the things we talked about that afternoon was which one of their Uncles was my biological father. CeCe and I had it narrowed down to two of them with my DNA results, but they had both passed and neither had any other known biological children, so the only way I would ever really know was for my birth mother to tell me. And I had asked before…And she hadn’t been willing to share the information with me. My cousins had a suspicion about which one of their Uncles it was, but didn’t know for sure; however, what they told me about their Uncle Cecil. He was their favorite Uncle and he always took time for them, treated them very respectfully, and loved spending time with them. They had fond memories of him from their childhood.

Anyway, Jean and I started talking again around Memorial Day. I decided to ask her the question about my biological father again. And…she ghosted me. Again. And I am not going to lie, I was frustrated. I just wanted to know…I needed to know. Around this time, I connected with another Whitfield first cousin named Jack, who lives in Madisonville, KY. He also suspected Cecil was my father. I went to visit Jack on Memorial Day Weekend and he and his lovely wife, Yvonne, took me to the cemetery where Cecil was laid to rest and I took him flowers and Jack also showed me the house where the family originally lived when Cecil was a boy. He then gave me an old harmonica and a pocket knife that had belonged to Cecil and been carried in his pocket…What a priceless treasure?!

Anyway, I dropped trying to get an answer from my Birth Mother, and low and behold, in the wee hours of the morning before Father’s Day, I got a text from her telling me that my question had been heavy on her mind and she wanted me to know that my Father was Cecil! I couldn’t believe it?! Finally…Confirmation!!! It felt so amazing. I thanked her and she said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore, but she wanted me to know.

So we continued some small talk texting and then in August, I got another very early morning text from her telling me she hoped that I could find it in my heart to forgive her?! When I read it after waking, I read it again to make sure I read it correctly. I was so touched…I had tears running down my cheeks. I told her that I had already forgiven her, but that I didn’t understand all of the decisions she had made, but that I would like to. And honestly, I figured she wouldn’t respond. But to my surprise, she did…And she said she really didn’t want to wait any longer to meet me! She said this whole COVID pandemic had a big impact on her and made her stop and think. So I offered to fly to North Carolina to meet her. And again, I really didn’t expect anything to actually materialize. However, she replied shortly after and suggested some dates! So I booked a flight right then and there!!

I was excited and nervous and honestly not sure exactly what to expect and how the visit would go, but I was optimistic. And realistic. I planned a short trip (3 days) and I rented a car…Just in case it didn’t feel right or was too uncomfortable. You see, my Birth Mother lives with her Granddaughter, Heather, and her family, including her husband and eight children. I went alone…Because I felt like that is what I needed to do. I didn’t tell a lot of people about my visit, in case it was not a good reunion. Before I made my decision to go, I only told my husband, Brad, and my Aunt Nan. They were both extremely encouraging and happy for me. After I told Jean I was coming and she acknowledged it and seemed truly happy about it, I told my son and daughter and my two sisters.

So I flew to NC on a Sunday morning and arranged to meet up with Jean at her church since I would be getting there just about the time her service would end. I was waiting outside my rental car in the church parking lot and I saw her come out and walk toward me. I met her halfway and there was a big, lingering hug and several tears. It was all kind of surreal…She was so tiny. Hugging her immediately reminded me of hugging my Momma who raised me. She was also very tiny. She wanted me to come in and meet her Pastor and some of her church friends, so I did. They were all nice and she had obviously told them about me because they said they were so happy that we were “finally” meeting. We took a few pictures. And then she asked if I wanted to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch.

I followed her and quickly learned where I get my tendency to drive fast! I could barely keep up with her?! We arrived and, of course, had to wait, so we sat in her car and just chatted until our table was ready. I can’t say that it wasn’t just a little bit awkward, but not as much as I thought it might be. We had lunch…I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was my FIRST meal with my Birth Mother, at least the first one I knew of or had any memory or knowledge of. And then we went back to her daughter’s house where she lives. I was nervous about this…There were a lot of people to meet! However, I quickly realized my worries were silly. I was welcomed with many, and I do mean many, open arms, lots of hugs and much excitement….When the kids realized that I was their “Aunt”, I was pretty much a Rock Star! They said they really didn’t have any Aunts in their lives and they were excited to have one! A few of the older ones asked some questions about their Grandma Sissy being my sister and our fathers…And thankfully my niece, Heather, jumped right in and answered their questions.

The next day, the kids started virtual classes for school and Jean wanted to take me to lunch at her favorite Mexican Restaurant and to do a little shopping. I think I can safely guess where my love of shopping came from?! We had a long talk at lunch about what each of us had been through with our fathers that we grew up with. She was more open about things than I ever imagined she might be. She said she had been holding a lot of those things in for many, many years…She is 80 years old. I felt honored that she trusted me with such personal information so I won’t divulge any details because it isn’t my place to tell those things to anyone else, but it meant a lot that she shared them with me. And the more she told me, the more sense things started to make to me…

We then went to TJ Maxx and Belks. And I think she might like shopping even more than me?! I know this is hard to believe for anyone who knows me!

Later that evening, she asked if I would like to look at some old pics? Would I?? Of course, I would! So we did and that allowed for more conversation about her history and her life before I knew anything about her. We stayed up late talking about other things that had happened in her life both as a girl and a young lady. She did NOT have an ideal childhood to say the least. Being a psychology major, I know that unconventional behavior of an adult who had a traumatic childhood can be very confusing to others, but it isn’t really that unusual. My mind was reeling with all of the information I had learned.

I got up the next morning and and had to catch my flight mid-morning, so I didn’t have a lot of time. Jean told me she didn’t want me to go yet. And the kids wanted me to stay, but I had to get back to work the next day, so we said our good-byes, shared some hugs and kisses and shed a few tears, but I promised all of them I would be back. On the flight home, I had so much reflecting to do…I was just trying to put it all into perspective and wrap my head around it, but I am not going to lie, it was A LOT to digest.

I got home and talked to Brad and my kids about everything and Brad wanted to go meet all of them. The kids wanted to also, but with school in session, we couldn’t make it happen right away. Brad and I had been planning to take a week off to head to our favorite Alabama Beach; however, they had unfortunately been hard-hit by a hurricane. Soooooo, we started looking at an alternative plan to go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina! This would allow us to stop in and visit Jean and Heather and her family. And we could still have some beach time, so we booked a place to stay and headed back to North Carolina just in time for Brad’s Birthday. And since our kids couldn’t go with us and they really wanted to meet their grandmother, we invited Jean to come back to Indiana with us for a few weeks…And she said she wanted to, but I felt like she wasn’t sure about it, so I didn’t know if she would follow through.

When we got to Heather’s that evening, they had gotten Brad a big very chocolate cake, decorated the house and had balloons and met their Uncle and enthusiastically celebrated his Birthday for the very FIRST time. And the baby, Cheyenne, or “Chey-Chey” as she is lovingly called by all of her siblings, took an immediate liking to Brad! And he fell in love with that little sweetheart. It just so happened that all the kiddos were just as excited to have an Uncle, as they were an Aunt?! Brad LOVES kids, so having all of these littles around was right up his ally. He also, of course, met Jean. And she welcomed him, just as she did me. And the next morning, my sister, Sissy, drove in from Virginia to see us too. So we spent the next two days with them before going to the beach.

Brad and I had a great time exploring the Outer Banks, relaxing, walking the beach, seeing the wild horses, eating great seafood, and talking about all of our new family members. We had never been to the Outer Banks, so it was another FIRST.

We headed back to Heather’s on Friday and the adults went out to dinner that night! It was nice to talk and have some grown-up conversation. Jean had decided that she was going back to Indiana with us, but she had admitted to me that she was really nervous about it. I tried to reassure her that we really wanted her to come and that she was welcome in our home. And so, she came. But not without a very tearful good-bye with the kiddos…They were having a difficult time with her decision to leave. It was obvious that she is a huge part of their lives.

However, we drove through the mountains all day and made it back to Indiana late Saturday night and Jean got to meet my son, Alex, and our fur babies, Whitfield and Chloe (English and French Bulldogs) for the first time. We got her settled into her guest room and we were all really tired so we turned in fairly early, but she seemed happy to be here.

On Sunday, we went to my daughter and son-in-law’s home for dinner. Ashleigh and Gary and the boys welcomed Jean into their home and she had a very nice FIRST visit with them. Cutter, my middle grandson, had decided to call Jean “Graham Cracker” and that has stuck. We sat up later that evening talking and she asked a lot of questions about he kids and the grandkids and wanted to know all about them. We were also trying to get our dogs, especially the puppy, to calm down and get used to Jean being here, so that was also going on. I am sure it was a lot for her to take in, but she seemed to take it all in stride…I guess living in a house with 8 children would be de-sensitizing?

One of the things that Jean hoped to do while in Indiana was visit her cousin, Stevie, who lives a little north of Indianapolis, where they grew up. I learned that Jean had actually lived with Stevie and her family for a while, beginning when she was around 11 or 12 years old. She and Stevie were the same age and were a lot like sisters. They hadn’t seen each other since they were young adults, but Stevie was excited to see Jean to and invited us to come up that Monday and stay overnight. I had met Stevie two summers ago at a family reunion that she invited me and my sister, Patty, to and Brad and I had visited her and her husband, Phil, about a month prior as they had recently moved back to Indiana from Texas.

So we headed north on Monday morning and I love that I got to be part of this reunion! These two ladies who hadn’t seen each other in about 60 years, just picked up right where they left off and it was as if they hadn’t been separated for all those years. We went out to lunch and then us ladies took a drive to look at where they grew up and places they used to go, etc. They were like a comedy routine! I laughed until I almost cried. If you have ever watched to Ginga and Grandma videos on Facebook, that is seriously who they reminded me of. The way they interacted with each other was just so much fun!

We got back to Aunt Stevie’s from that “adventure” and the photo albums came out and more reminiscing took place. They had so much catching up to do?! They ordered pizza delivery for dinner and we just visited. I went to bed earlier and left them to have some private time. We got up the next morning and visited some more. And then Stevie’s daughters and one of the son-in-laws joined us at Olive Garden for lunch. We had to head back that evening, but Stevie and Jean talked about getting together again.

I had to work the rest of the week, but was able to do some things from home and when I left, Jean would just ask me to turn the television to the Hallmark channel and I learned she loved watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; The Waltons; and Little House on the Prairie, the latter being one of my favorites. I also learned that she couldn’t stand for there to be dishes in the sink and would wash them up…even if there was only a few (and we have a dishwasher and we made sure she knew we used it.) Another characteristic she shared with my Momma. She also didn’t seem to know how to relax and just “be”. She seemed to also have a need to stay busy…Just like my Momma. She would get the broom and sweep the floor or clean up the bathroom, even though we told her we didn’t expect her to do any of that. She also wanted to cook for us or at least help with the cooking. So we let her do all of those things since they seemed to help her feel at home.

We also learned that she loved McDonald’s sweet tea. And Wendy’s Frosty’s. Other than those two things and bread and peanut butter, she didn’t ask for much of anything during her visit. She was very easy to please and didn’t want to be any trouble…Also, just like my Momma. I also got her hooked binge-watching Hart of Dixie with me and she really seemed to enjoy it too! We also made it to church one Sunday while she was here and she really seemed to enjoy that, which was another FIRST that we did together.

She got to be here for Halloween and see her great grandsons trick-or-treat for the very FIRST time! They came to our house to go in our neighborhood and I am not sure who had more fun…Them or her?! She really enjoyed watching them. And she got to see her Grandson, Alex, in all his glory as he was going to be part of a haunted birthday party for one of his friend’s little sisters and her class of 7th Graders.

The next night, she asked them if she could make a pasta dinner for the kids and grandkids, including her homemade spaghetti sauce. Of course, the boys were excited about that…And so was she! And she makes a mean spaghetti sauce! So she cooked for her grandkids and great grandkids…for the FIRST time. She also made homemade chocolate chip cookies for us for the FIRST time and they were a huge hit! While we were at my daughter’s, we Face-timed with Heather and her family and we invited all of them to come up for Thanksgiving this year! And they kindly accepted the invitation! So, Heather checked with me to make sure it was okay, and then talked to Jean about staying with us until Thanksgiving and then she could just go back with them, rather than flying, which she was pretty nervous about due to COVID. Jean agreed. And just like that, her stay was extended about 3 more weeks! Meaning we had more time together to get to know each other better and have more “FIRSTS”.

She got to attend her two older grandsons’ basketball games for the FIRST time ever! We also took time to explore the Amish Community a bit by going to a few of the Amish Restaurants and Stores and driving around to look at some of the farms. We also went to Jasper and ate at a German Restaurant, The Schnitzelbank…She really liked it!! She also went shopping with me and my daughter, together, for the FIRST time. And we went to the cemetery with us to put fall flowers on my Momma’s grave. She was very respectful and understanding about my need to do this. We had already talked about my Momma a lot and she understood how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I also took her out to see where I lived growing up. She had lots of questions for me about how I grew up, so I told her all about my childhood and all of the family that I grew up with.

Later that week, I asked my Sister, Patty, to come up from Franklin, Ky and spend the day, so she did. The last time Patty had seen our Birth Mother was when she was a teenager…So it had been a long time. She had left Patty and her Father when she was about 2 1/2 and that is who Patty grew up with. We went out to lunch at our favorite local Mexican Restaurant and the three of us shared our FIRST meal together. We then went back into our town and did a little shopping on Main Street…Another FIRST together. Finally, we went back to our house and spent some time just visiting before Patty had to head back to Kentucky.

I had to do some traveling around our area for work the next week, which meant visiting some other counties. So I asked Jean if she wanted to ride along and she decided to go with me. This gave me the opportunity to introduce her to some of my co-workers at my office, as well as meeting up with one of my co-workers who retired a few years ago, for breakfast. It meant a lot to me for them to meet, as I had shared my story with this friend over the years. We ended the day by doing some shopping at Kohl’s in a neighboring county late that afternoon….I learned that she really likes shopping at Kohl’s.

Then, late one mid-September evening, we got a call from Brad’s niece that his sister was really, really ill and she had called an ambulance. We told Jean we were going down to her apartment and she told us to keep her posted on what was going on. Unfortunately, when we got there, Brad’s sister had already passed…It was an awful night. His sister, Julie, who had once been bigger than life with her singing and acting in many local weddings, plays, musicals, and such, had a plethora of health issues, but we didn’t know she was that bad. We had made it a point to not spend time together over the past several months because we knew she would probably not do well if she were to contract COVID. Brad and I had to call some of his family to let them know what had happened and it was a very long night. Jean and I sat up late that night and talked about what had happened and she was very sweet and wanted to know what she could do to help. It meant a lot to have that…I have really missed that about my Momma. She was always there to listen and help me work through things.

The next day, Brad’s sister, Sherri, who lives in South Carolina, drove up to Indiana and she came to our house first. As you can imagine, she was having a really rough time, especially after driving that long distance alone. She needed hugs and to cry it out, so we did that. And she got to meet Jean for the FIRST time too. We all tried to comfort her. And she seemed a little better by the time she left. She had a hotel room in town and went there after her visit with us because she was completely exhausted from being up most of the night before and the long drive. The next day, we met at my daughter’s to go through pictures for a picture board and to help us deal with this loss. Jean decided to not go with us as she felt we needed that time alone to talk and remember and to work through things….I felt bad leaving her at our house alone, but it also felt very respectful at the same time.

I was pretty busy at work the last part of that week and so Jean was at home without me for part of the time. She seemed content to just watch TV, sweep, take care of the dishes and she even cooked for us a couple of nights, which was super helpful. And I think it made her feel really good to do that for us.

It was getting closer to Thanksgiving and we were trying to make plans about the meal and what all would be happening the few days Heather and her family were here. It was very exciting! However, Brad’s sister passing away was going to make the holiday different, as she and her kids were usually part of our celebration. We invited my sister, Sissy, and my sister, Patty, to come to Thanksgiving too. Sissy lives in Virginia and she decided to come up with Heather and her family. Patty couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving Day, but said she would try to come up the day after. Jean and I met her in Owensboro the week before Thanksgiving for lunch at a Japanese Hibachi grill and an afternoon of shopping…It felt a little more comfortable than the first visit.

So Heather, her husband, Dave, Sissy, and their eight kiddos made it to Indiana the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving! So all of these cousins got to meet…For the FIRST time!!! And I feel so privileged that I got to be there! I just wish I could begin to adequately describe the feelings and emotions to those of you reading this. It was one of the most amazing things I have seen…These kiddos just met, like it was no big deal, and they started playing and having a great time together. There were lots of smiles and giggles! The four middle kids, FelicityAnn, Kaidyn, Brailynn, and Arianna, “camped out” in the big family room downstairs with my two grandsons Jax and Shooter. Cutter and Ian, who are the same age, came upstairs and stayed in his bedroom. Heather and Dave and the two little ones stayed in Shooter’s room upstairs, and Sissy and the oldest son, Gavynn, went back to a local hotel where my sister had booked a room.

So, the next day was THANKSGIVING!! And boy, did what was going on really make us stop in our tracks and think about what that meant. It was bittersweet with having just lost Brad’s sister, but having all of this “new” family here, together, for the FIRST time. The holidays are difficult when you have loved ones who are no longer with you…My Momma, Brad’s Momma, Brad’s Dad, and now his Sister, were very missed. However, we were really happy that Brad’s nephew, Spencer, decided to join us for Thanksgiving.

I wanted to make this first holiday together as special as I could, so my daughter, Ash, and I had worked hard on the menu and the food, trying to make sure we had things that everyone would love. So we had turkey, and smoked pork shoulder, and dressing, and mashed potatoes and gravy, and green bean casserole, and corn, and Amish Bread, and noodles, and cranberries, and homemade pumpkin pies, as well as many other desserts! Oh…And wine. Plenty of wine. After all, we had a lot to celebrate!!!

But, most everyone has a great Thanksgiving Feast, so what else could make the day more special…spectacular, even? Well, I thought it would be over the top if Santa Claus stopped by for a visit! And I just so happen to be good friends with Santa and so we made arrangements for him to come and visit! I told him at least one interesting fact about each kiddo and he had a little gift for each of them too! We finished our big dinner and knowing he was going to arrive around 2 pm, we needed to keep the kiddos in the house and occupied until then. So, we had an impromptu photo shoot with all the kids while they were still in their good clothes…They (and we) were getting pretty weary of posing for photos when Santa finally knocked on the front door! Talk about some surprised faces and big wide eyes?? They were so excited!! Santa got comfy on the sofa and talked to each one of the kids and gave them a gift along with little notes from him including something personal about each one of them, like Lilly getting into her Mommy’s make-up?! It was hilarious to watch their reactions when they read or had these notes read to them. FelicityAnn was my favorite to watch with Santa. She was just so animated and so happy…She had a lot to talk to Santa about. Seeing that kind of wonder, innocence and belief in a child is truly a treasure.

So Santa left after we got some pics of him with the kids. We went outside and took some other pics of the kids and families and just enjoyed visiting and talking. And a few of the guys even had a nap?! I am not going to lie, I was exhausted by the time we got home, but not the kind where I could actually go to sleep…the good kind where my mind was just reeling from what happened and how I had a hand in all of it. It was an indescribably incredible feeling!

We slept in a little bit on Friday morning and then headed over to my daughter’s to meet up with my Sister, Patty, and our nephew, Wesley and his wife, Sammi, who were coming up from Madison, Indiana. Wesley is a son of my half-sister, Karen, who was killed in a car accident when she was only 23, so we never got to meet. We had all already connected with Wesley, but we hadn’t all been together at the same time, so that was a FIRST. And another FIRST…my two Sisters and me were with our Mother at the same time. And my Daughter got to meet Wesley, one of her first cousins, for the FIRST time. We all had brunch together and visited for a while. Wesley and his wife, Sammi, and my Sister, Patty, left that afternoon. We stayed until later in the evening and took a bunch of pics before everyone left and Jean cried at one point because my grandson, Jaxon, told her he was really going to miss her being here.

So, like all good things, it was bound to come to an end, and Heather and her family, and Sissy, and my Mother, were all leaving early on Saturday morning. I had noticed that my Mother had been pretty quiet all day. We drove through our local park on our way home to see their amazing Christmas light display and she really enjoyed that. Cutter and Ian had decided to come and spend the night at our house too…Another FIRST that they did together. We got home and my Mother said she needed to get all of her stuff packed up and ready to go. So she went into the guest room and closed the door. She had been in there for a while and I thought I would see if there was anything I could do to help. I knocked on the door and she quietly said “come in”. I found her sitting on the side of the bed and she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I don’t really want to leave…My visit went too fast and I enjoyed being here with all of you.” I reassured her that she was welcome to come back anytime and that we would see her again soon. I asked her if I could help her get things together and she told me she had some things in the laundry room because Brad had done up some of her laundry. I got those for her and we checked the closet and the drawer in the bathroom to make sure she hadn’t left anything behind. It was getting late so she said she should try to get some sleep, since they were leaving really early in the morning. She asked me if I would set my alarm and wake her up? I told her I had planned to anyway because I wanted to tell her good-bye and see her off. She gave me a big hug and reminded me that she loved me and thanked me again for having her here. Cutter and Ian were watching television in the living room and were going to sleep on the sofa and recliner. They had become good buddies over the past three days and that made my heart happy.

I went to bed, so thankful, but also sad. And still trying to wrap my head around all of what had happened over just a few short months. I knew I was so lucky. I know that not all reunions ever happened, let alone turn out like this one had. I said an extra prayer of thanks that night and prayed for my family to have safe travels back to North Carolina and Virginia.

At 430 am, my alarm went off and I went in to wake up my Mother and she was already up, showered and dressed. She said she woke up around 330 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Brad got up too and we helped her carry all of her stuff into the foyer so it would be ready when Sissy came to pick her up. We had coffee together and talked about her traveling back home. Cutter and Ian were up saying their good-byes and Alex even got up and said good-bye…And he is NOT an earlier riser. And then…my Sister pulled up and we helped my tiny little Mother carry her bags and things out to the vehicle and get them situated. We had one more tearful hug and kiss and she got in the vehicle. Some of my little great nieces were riding back with Sissy, so Brad and I had to squeeze in and give them a hug and kiss too. I hugged my Sister and told her to be safe and let us know when they made it home. And…Away they went.

Brad and I went back in and went back to bed because it was still pretty early. And still dark. And I had a good cry and prayed for safe travels for my family and tried to think about all of the fun we had and all of the bonds and connections that were made over the past three days. And all of the many, many FIRSTS we got to be a part of.

Now it is January 3rd and we are in the New Year, 2021. I am not really sure why it took me so long to write this post. I honestly meant to have it done by Christmas and for it to be part of my gift to my Mother, my Kids and Grandkids, Heather and Dave and their family, my Whitfield cousins, my Sisters, Brad, his Sister, Sherri, and Julie‚Äôs Kids, my nephew, Wesley, and Aunt Stevie. I am having a good cry as I finish it, just remembering all of the good times and these special family members and others that I love dearly and haven’t been able to see for quite some time because of COVID. Maybe that is why it was so difficult to finish it. I am hopeful that the new year brings about positive changes with this pandemic situation and allows us to spend more time with the people we love. After all…It is what matters most in life!