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How Lucky I Am To Have Family That Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard....

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Our much anticipated trip to California has come to an end.  What a wonderful time we had though.  I think its safe to say that just about everyone in my extended family has met Joey – and he greeted each and every one of them with his signature smile!  It had also been many years since Gionna has been here and everyone’s comment when first seeing Gia was usually, “she’s so tall”!  At 5’9” she is now taller than me and I’m not sure she’s done growing.

This past Saturday was spent in the hills of El Cerrito, just blocks away from my Nonna’s home – where I spent much of my younger years.  Our reunion was at my cousin Grace’s home.  It is absolutely beautiful with a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We had just about everyone there and seeing all my family together had me on the verge of tears most of the day (happy tears).  I really enjoyed just listening to the various conversations and learned so much about members of our family that are no longer with us.  Grace had some very funny stories about my great Aunt Viola and also told us about my great-grandmother, Rosina’s, trip from Italy to America.  

For the past few years I’ve been working on a family photo album, but in a DVD version.  I brought that to share with everyone and was surprised how even I cried watching it.  I loved listening to the various comments my family made as the different pictures floated on and off the screen.  Maybe its because I’m getting older, because I’m not sure I felt like this in my younger years, but I felt such a strong sense of “family” this past week.  It was all I could do to hold it together as we said our “goodbyes”.  I was one of the first ones to arrive at the reunion and the last one to leave – I just didn’t want it to end.  I learned something else….my cousin, Michele, Grace’s daughter, gives the best hugs.  When she hugged me goodbye, that’s when the tears began for me.  I actually let go first, usually I’m the one hugging the longest – and when she didn’t let go, I just hugged her some more.  Michele has a beautiful family – her son, Theo, is almost one and the resemblance between Theo and Joey is incredible.  Michele’s husband, who I met for the very first time, is great with kids and even got Gionna to join in a game of croquet – no small task for my shy daughter.  I could go on and on about that day, and it would probably bore you to tears so I will just say that next time you see your family, hug them….tell them how much you love them and make time for them.  Don’t rush out of a birthday party or skip out on having dinner with your mom, dad, whoever – they are your family, for better or for worse, they are part of you and time passes by much too quickly.   I probably need to work on taking my own advice!

All in all it was a wonderful trip.  As with most vacations, it went by much too fast.  I’ll be honest, I miss California.  My heart was aching as we crossed the Arizona state line late last night.  This is my home, no matter where I live, this is my home.  I’m blessed to have my friends in Alabama – and I miss them dearly, so those of you reading this is Alabaster, Pelham, Birmingham….I LOVE YOU.  I just get homesick and to quote the amazing Tony Bennett, yes, I really did leave “my heart in San Francisco”….and Saint Helena and El Cerrito and Vacaville…..

So, we have begun our road trip back to Alabama.  We started yesterday morning off rather early with a breakfast with my best friend and partner in crime, Jennifer.  Her mom Donna, joined us also.  Seeing Jennifer brought me back to when we were 12 or 13 years old and always seemed to be in some sort of trouble - nothing bad, just, well, trouble.  God, how I miss her already!   Then we made another quick stop and my cousin Terri's home to return the guard rail we borrowed to keep Joey in his bed.  It worked quite well, although my little Houdini somehow managed to make it onto the floor and escape almost every night.  Once we found him heading towards the family room at my Uncle's home around 1:30 in the morning.  The kid is nothing if not strong willed and determined!  I have no idea where he gets that from!

My cousin, and Gia’s godmother, Susan, packed us the most amazing bag of snacks for our drive home.  Considering how sparse restaurants are during this leg of the trip, we are so grateful for her thoughtfulness.  We are in Kingman, Arizona as I write this.  We will leave shortly and today we will cross two states, Arizona and New Mexico.  We are taking the same route, following I-40 into Arkansas.  Joey is doing great – he did have seizures this trip, some severe, most were not, considering his illness, I think he did very well.  Gionna is eager to return home to her friends and begin her first day of high school in just a couple of weeks.

Jess, if you are reading this, thank you and your lovely husband for taking care of Rocco – I’m not sure anyone else would have watched him for so long and I know he’s in wonderful hands.  Um, sorry about all the mischief he and Jaxson have gotten into!  J

Well, I only have 45 minutes left to take advantage of the free coffee downstairs – I’m going to need it today.  Just heard a weather report….high today…110 degrees.  Yesterday we hit a high temp of 114 in Needles, California.  At least the gas prices should be lower as we make our way back home.  We actually paid $3.03 a gallon yesterday! 

Thank you for checking in on us - we will try to update again tonight from somewhere in New Mexico!

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?  I guess that wouldn't work.  Someone would leave.  Someone always leaves.  Then we would have to say good-bye.  I hate good-byes.  I know what I need.  I need more hellos.  ~Charles M. Schulz


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California Dreamin' 2009

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