I love a road trip. Always have. But road trips for me have been nonexistent since I no longer own a car. That is, right up until I discovered a local car rental agency that would deliver a car right to my doorstep. I had promised Emily that I would go up north to see her after Edan was born. There was no way I was going to break that promise. Emily, Edan and her husband, Eric, would be going back to Hawaii shortly after Edan's birth, and this would be my only opportunity to see that beautiful baby in person. So I ordered the car and planned to leave last Friday morning.
Thursday evening my phone rang. It was David. He wondered if I should be driving that far by myself. I found myself laughing at him, and I reminded him that I was a big girl now, fully capable of taking care of myself. I promised to call him and let him know that I had made the trip to Bemidji just fine, and that if the weather turned bad, I would pull over and not try to drive through a snowstorm. Even though I laughed at him, it warmed my heart to know that this son of mine loves me enough to worry about me.
I left for the Great White North on Friday morning. As I dislike freeway driving, I took some less traveled roads out of the city, enjoying looking at the scenery rather than miles of tail lights. I won't tell David that at one point I missed a turn and wound up backtracking about 20 miles. There were a few snow flurries on the way, but the roads were dry and it was a good trip.
I arrived in Bemidji in the afternoon, and Jackie welcomed me with a hug. Kelly wasn't home as he was out of town taking some classes for his job. Jackie and I drank coffee and talked until it was time to start supper. She fixed BBQ ribs that were to die for, and soon family began arriving. Emily, Eric and Edan were there; Randi, Rick and their two little girls Tabitha and Nicole; Ashley, Jason and their son, Griffon; Dustin, Trish and their daughter Dezi; and Jackie's son Cody. There is not much that is better than a house full of family. There was lots of talk, even more laughter, and kids everywhere. Nicole and Tabitha were calling me "Grandma" and insisted on sitting next to me at supper. Dezi entertained us with "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," followed by a sweeping bow from the waist to the applause of her audience. She must have learned that bow at her daycare, as her parents were surprised to see it. Baby Edan is a love. I got to do some serious baby snuggling. Although he weighed over 8 pounds at birth, he seemed so very tiny. He is such a good baby and slept through all the commotion. I hope his mother will keep me supplied with pictures as he grows, because it will be a long time before I get to see him and his parents again. I had not seen Griffon in person before - only in pictures, so I got a double dose of baby snuggling. This "Great-Auntie" thing is wonderful. He was so good, and is into a fun stage of smiling and giggling at anyone who talks to him. He is such a sweetheart.
After everyone took their tired children and headed to their homes, Jackie and I sat and talked for a while until I could keep my eyes open no longer. Jackie has the ability to make me feel so welcome and so very much at home. I wonder if she knows how much I love having her as my sister. She went out of her way to give me a truly wonderful evening with family, and I am grateful.
Saturday morning I feasted on homemade cinnamon rolls, and after a few cups of coffee to get me going, Jackie and I decided to go do a little Christmas shopping. I found one gift I had been looking for, and she bought a few grandkid presents. We had a nice lunch at a local restaurant and then headed back home. Dusty, Dezi, Ashley, Jason and Griffon came by to see me and it was fun to talk with them. Kelly came home in the afternoon, and Dezi was jumping up and down yelling, "Grandpa, Grandpa!" Kelly said that you can't get a better homecoming greeting than that. Later over coffee we had some good brother-sister talk. We don't get to do that often because of the distance that separates our homes, so I cherish the times we do have together.
After a great home cooked breakfast Sunday morning there was more good family conversation. Jackie's son Brent stopped by and I was happy to be able to meet all of her family on this trip. He has just moved back to the Bemidji area and was telling us about his new job, which sounds exciting. It involves catering trucks and has all the potential for being a huge success. Dusty and Dezi came by later in the morning and I was glad to see them again before heading back home early in the afternoon.
I had been joking that I was praying for a blizzard so that I wouldn't have to leave quite so soon. I think that was partly joke and partly wishful thinking. I love living close to my family here in the Cities, but I so love the north country and my family there. I wonder if Jackie and her children realize how much it means to me to be so fully accepted as a member of their family. I guess that, upon reflection, I have the best of both worlds. I can see my children and grandchildren fairly often here, and I can go to a place I love and see more family. I think I will have to do this road trip thing more often.