Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My northern family

This weekend I went with my Father, sister and her fiance to Manistique Michigan to visit my grandmother and some of my cousins over the long weekend. We flew to Chicago out of BWI very early Friday morning and then after finally getting my sisters luggage (three flights later) finally got on the road for an 8 hour drive through Wisconsin. We got dinner and relaxed for the night and then in the morning went to visit my grandmother in the assisted living facility where she currently lives.

My father had warned us about our grandmother's shape but I don't think we really knew what to expect in reality; I definitely did not expect what we saw. When we walked in the building she was sitting in the otherwise deserted lobby asleep in an arm chair with her mouth hanging open. Pretty cute actually. We went over and woke her up to say hello and she had a big coloring book in her lap with crayons lined up on the table next to her. My father started talking to her but we quickly saw that that was hardly possible since she couldn't seem to really hear or comprehend what he was saying. We all watched while he slowly repeated extremely simplified questions at least five or six times with the result being him just giving up and her starring blankly at him. He turned to us and said the majority of this visit would probably involve staring and smiling.

She didn't remember us at all; not surprising to me since I've seen her maybe once every 4 or 5 years for most of my life and nothing more. My cousin Gwen showed up as well to visit and when she didn't recognize her you could see that she was upset. Gwen spent all of her childhood and most of her college years around her and she still did not remember her at all. She did seem to remember my father, or at least that he had come by which must have been nice for him to know.

After the visit we went to my aunt's house for a family BBQ with a handful of cousins and their kids, the majority of whom I have not seen since I was in middle school. Wow, apparently time changes things. My cousin J who used to be huge (tall) was only 6' 2" (I'm 6') while my cousin Gwen has two kids and a husband. Oh and my Aunt got remarried after her husband (our favorite uncle) passed away; sort of sucks to see this new guy, plus he's certainly no Uncle John. Anyway, dealt with kids for the first time in like 5 years which was fun; I was a little scared I wouldn't know how to deal with them but I think I did alright.

Saturday night we got the somewhat expected news that my sister's fiance's grandfather had passed away so we changed our flight plans to leave Sunday evening so that he could drive out for the funeral and I got home late Sunday night. It was really good to see the family finally and see how everyone is doing. It's been such a long time so it was good to catch up and see the kids and find out what everyone is up to now. I was surprised to know that J and Gwen both live on farms and have horses and chickens and goats and all kinds of fun stuff. They look at me funny since I'm a city kid and my cousin J pointed out the fact that we "live with all them liberals down their in Maryland and DC."

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