Pillows are tossed and fluffed, vacuum inhales the corner cobwebs from the unused bedrooms, bathroom stools and counters meet with Spic and Span, all getting prepared for the Visit. Wanting to make the most of our short time together, the Agenda awaits. The to-do- list includes games-we-always play-when-together, a corn maze visit, crafts for Nana to do with adolescents, watching Nancy Drew episodes on Netflix, visiting the hometown restaurants, and a special road rally to retrace roots and memories. The cinnamon rolls and shoo-fly pie are baked; foods we-always-eat-when-together.
My son and his family begin the journey from 700 miles away, and we wait excitedly to see their faces at the front door. This time our first hugging gets done in Mancino's parking lot where the travelers get a bite to eat. From there we go to the home place. Two of the three kids, my how they've grown!, scatter to check out all three floors of the house they remember well, yet discover anew. Brayden, new to the family, makes his introductory walk-though. Bedrooms are staked out and the Visit is underway.
Jill and Elle want to watch Nancy Drew first thing so we settle down for a few episodes while mom and dad stretch out muscles that have been held captive in travel. The homemade foose ball game and air hockey table get a workout before the family sits down to supper and the traditional game of Dictionary that follows the meal. We laugh at silly definitions and agonize over choosing the one word from Websters that will stump everyone else.
Inside the cornstalks, we have a-Maze-ing fun. The farm also sports a tricycle track with all size of trikes, a long bumpy slide to coast down and other amusements to keep us entertained. We frolic; Kira takes our pictures and posts our revelry on Facebook. Instantly, our friends and family know where we are and what we're doing!.
Mornings we wake up to Gevalia goodness made sweeter with shoo-fly pie and the sticky buns. Jill requests PaPa's egg scramble, and he is happy to oblige. Following this yummy start to the first day, I hand out road rally clues and send the five Okie residents out to gather memories of childhood neighborhoods and alma maters that are embedded in 'dad', my son's DNA. The rest of the family enjoy the stories from way-back-when.
After the trip to Hobby Lobby, Kira, I and the young people twist our fingers into yarn and cording as we finger-knit the beginnings of scarves and tie knots into bracelets. From the You Tube tutorial we learn how to make rubber band bracelets and mass produce these faddish trinkets. Elle's arm soon wears a sleeve of the colorful ringlets!
And then Donut Day arrives and we trek to the Great Grandparent's house where a whole slew of relatives get together to make and eat donuts all day. Amid the loud play of littlest cousins, the adults try to converse, catching up on family news and solving common problems of parenting, aging and job challenges. The family from Oklahoma fit right in, making their Donut Day debut. "Better than Krispy Kreme", they say!
The last night arrives. Josh and Kira feed their fan fantasy at a Notre Dam football game and PaPa and I get to soak up more time with the grand kid trio. We build a fire in the pit out back, briefly diluting the concentration of autumn coolness, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for s'mores. Inside, PaPa makes his famous stove-top popcorn, sprinkled with seasoned salt and lemon pepper. Brayden ate a huge bowlful by himself! We watch Netflix til PaPa has to go to bed. (He worked hard earlier in the day, making donuts and helping his parents clean up afterwards) We watch more Netflix and when Hercules is over, Elle wants to continue viewing something else. Unlike other nights when the kids had faded to their bedrooms before the adults had retired for the evening, the young people were wide awake and lively. I agreed to stay up for more fun if we played a game. Mom and Dad got back from the game, surprised to find us awake , going strong with our Catch Phrase competition!
The next morning after a last piece of shoo-fly pie and left over doughnuts, they were on the road heading west, away! It is all over way too quickly, and I feel the familiar sadness of a quiet house when family leaves, the let down feeling like being abandoned on the teeter totter. Then memories of happy times and getting reconnected climb aboard and balance begins to smooth the ride of opposing emotions.
Thank you, Josh and Kira, for traveling the distance to visit us. Kira, for taking pictures when I don't want to step back from the action to capture it in pixels. Josh for your humor and appreciation of Indiana treasures. (Next time, perhaps, the adults will get in their game of Euchre and more visit time, sans kids :). Jill, Elle and Brayden for laying down the cell phones long enough to play hard and go along with the Plan, whatever it entailed. For providing fun and energy. To each of you for being the beautiful offspring I am proud to claim and enjoy.
I look forward to another reunion in just three months at Uncle Austin's wedding, here in Indiana!