However, it was not Geoff's incentive that took us to Oklahoma during this weeks rendition of Tour 'de Family and Friends. On Monday morning we traveled to Muskogee, OK (I know, I know - "Okie from Muskogee." ) to visit my grandparents, and other wonderful family.
Grandma's house is great. In addition to being in the same home for most of my life (which renders it full of memories) my awesome aunt and uncle bought the house directly across the street several years ago. This is a blast at Thanksgiving - THE big event for family gatherings in my life. There really should be a "Vanderveer Crossing" sign in each yard warning neighborhood traffic of frequent cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. running the 50 foot dash to and from each house with pies, kids, footballs, or any variety of holiday mission.
This is the place that has taught me the most about the joy of family. I cherish the memories of late night talks with cousins, acapella singing, cousin/brother band concerts, thanksgiving testimonies, and really, really, good food. It may be in Oklahoma...but it's one of my very favorite places on earth.
We were thankful to spend time with my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and one of my cousins and his family who live in Muskogee as well. We met their 6 month old son, and enjoyed every moment of time together.
A special bonus was being able to go up to "the shop" on Tuesday. Grandfather, son, and grandson all work together at this family owned sign shop. We traveled with my cousin to complete one job where Geoff assisted in the installation of one of their masterpieces in a local business. They not only made the sign, but designed it start to finish, as they do many of their products. They work hard, with incredible results.
All too soon it was time for our next adventure. This involved Geoff and I heading separate ways...for the first time in many, many months. Geoff was off to Abilene to spend time with his family, and one of my dear friends picked me up in Muskogee on our way to some good girl friend time in Oklahoma City. Some of my dearest friends are now scattered around in Arkansas, Kansas, Georgia, and Texas. We met in the closest middle for some much needed reunion time.
It was wonderful to have time with so many friends and family, none of whom we see nearly enough. It was also wonderful to be reunited with Geoff and Reyah last night in Abilene. It was odd not having Geoff within earshot for the first time in a long time. I was also slightly distraught to be away from Reyah, our pup, who I am dreading saying goodbye to again when we leave for Israel. I just do better with animals around, and she happens to be one of the best.
At this time of year many are gathering with friends and family. Some do this as a result of longing, with joy, others out of obligation, with despair. I am mindful of how much I have to be thankful for as we travel to visit so many friends and family, and also of those whose grief and pain are especially strong this time of year. I am thankful for those who love us enough to understand when we are tired, homesick, or culture-shocked; those who draw out the best in us when we feel like we have nothing left. Thanks and love to all.
and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” -George Eliot