Family Matters 7/23/17

As most of you know, Ted discovered his birth mother’s family last spring and has spent the last year phoning, emailing, texting, and meeting some of this wonderful group face to face, through visits by some cousins last summer to the island and visits by other family members over the winter to Florida.  He even flew out to New Mexico in February to meet one of his mother’s brothers, Uncle Ken.  Ted and I have said so many times how this whole thing could have turned out so very differently, but we will forever be grateful that the family he found welcomed him with open arms and open hearts.

Two very important members of this family we had not met were Ted’s two sisters, Sheryl and Deb.  Deb invited us to come by on our way to the island, and we did that on Wednesday, July12.  There we met her, her husband Jack, and Ted’s second sister, Sheryl.  We spent a special afternoon with these two gracious ladies and came away with even more wonder at the acceptance we’ve been offered. We’re hoping to see more of them this summer.

We left Deb’s and drove to Spring Lake MI where we stayed with first cousin Dave and his sweet wife Diane.

We spent four nights with Dave and Di, and besides welcoming us (and Maddie and Bodie) as though we’d all known each other for years, they drove us all around the small, nearby towns in Michigan that Ted had known during the first five years of his life.


One of our first stops was in Holland where we found the home Ted’s adopted parents lived in until he was five. Ted and Dave walked up and knocked on the door, and a lovely couple in their eighties invited us all to join them on their back porch, where Ted told his story. This painting hanging in the house shows the waterside of the home as it was when Ted lived there . . .


. . . . and this is Ted standing in the back yard last week.  He remembered several things about the inside, although some changes have been made over the years.  It’s still a beautiful place on Lake Macatawa – and perhaps where Ted’s lifetime love of living on the water began.


We also spent time that afternoon in a lovely old cemetery in the community of Conklin, where some of Ted’s aunts and uncles and his great-grandparents are buried.


That evening another first cousin, Marv, and his wife Ruthie, came over for dinner, and once again that unbelievable family resemblance was in full view.


A sunset cruise on Spring Lake was on tap for one afternoon with friends of the Benninks, Dale and his wife Jean.


A perfect ending to another perfect day.

It had been almost 20 years since the Lachmann family had gathered for a reunion, but through the efforts of Dave and other family members, and working on short notice, over 50 folks gathered at the home of Marv and Ruthie on Saturday afternoon.

They came mostly from Michigan, but family also arrived from Ohio, Minnesota, Florida (that was us), and from as far away as New Mexico. (Ted is second from the left on the bottom row


Near the end of the afternoon everyone gathered at the end of the property, in the shade of old trees and told family stories. This beautiful family laughed and reminisced about times gone by, and you could tell it was something they’d all done for years and years at reunions- a family tradition.   The stories were as familiar to them as old family albums. But to Ted they were all new, and he soaked them up like a sponge.

I had planned to leave a little earlier than most to drive back and take care of the pups, so I tried to slip out unnoticed.  That wasn’t happening.  Someone said, “Brenda’s leaving now,” and this wonderful group of family rose from their chairs and walked up the large yard to hug me and tell me goodbye.  Yes, I cried.

There are no words to express how special and how loved this remarkable family has made us feel throughout this process.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster, and there have been times of great sadness and times of great joy.  Through it all though, what rises to the top is the beautiful and courageous spirit of a young woman many, many years ago who made a heart-breaking decision – because it was what was best for her son.  Through her family we now know her, and through her family we now love her.

I like to think she’s watching over all of this from Heaven and smiling.  And I know one day there will be another reunion.  And it will be the sweetest one of all.

 

This Darned Computer!

Hey y’all! This is Lana from Never Enough Thyme. I wanted to jump in here for a minute to let you know that Bree is safe and sound and loving every minute second of Mackinac! However, she’s having some computer issues that are preventing her from posting.

Never fear, though. It’s an easy fix and she’ll be back ASAP. In the meantime, she’s posting almost daily on Facebook, so if you follow her there you’ll still be in the know.

All you Mackinac people have a lovely day and think a kind thought for us here in the 100 degree heat in Georgia ūüôā

We Are Headed North (2017) 7/9/17

Header image courtesy of Jill Sawatzki:  Huge crowds arrived on Mackinac for the 4th of July.  This pic is from the annual Stone Skipping Tournament at Windermere Pointe Beach, next to Hotel Iroquois.

Hi Friends!

Hopefully, a week from today we will be loading our baggage on a Shepler ferry and crossing the Straits of Mackinac to our favorite island!  It’s still up in the air whether we’re leaving on Monday or Tuesday – everything depends on how much we get done today. Ted is already fussing about the number of bags I need (because he has to somehow work out the logistics of loading them into the back of the truck), but I’m sure he will get it all packed in – just like he does every year!

We spent the 4th of July with great Sunset Inlet friends at a neighborhood cookout at Jen and Ernie’s. Then we all crossed the road to the beach to watch the fireworks.


Some of our neighbors brought sparklers, so we had “pre-fireworks” fireworks!


The “show”!

The rest of the week was spent tying up all those loose ends you have to take care of if you’re leaving home for a few months.  Too quickly it was time for Blake to fly back to Colorado.

Blake will be leaving to go overseas in mid-August, but we won’t see him again until next summer when he comes home for a few weeks.  Let me restate that.  We won’t see him until next summer UNLESS I decide to be brave and go visit him.  And yes, I’m thinking about it!


So hard to say goodbye on Friday, but I know he will be doing good work where he’s going.  And I know our Father will be taking care of him.


Enjoying our morning coffee surrounded by a lot of our deck furniture. Everything outside has to come inside when you leave the coast of Florida. You just never know when one of those pesky hurricanes will decide to show up uninvited.

Bodie and Maddie already know something is up.  As soon as we started pulling out suitcases they went on high alert.  This will be an interesting adventure with Bodie, as we have no idea how he’ll be on a long trip.  Bear NEVER enjoyed traveling and would stand between the two front seats the entire 1200 miles.  We’re praying Bodie will be a less anxious traveler.

We were worried about having to help Bodie into the truck until yesterday.  He jumps easily into my SUV, but the seats of Ted’s truck are much higher, and he refused to jump in.  Until . . . . . I used cheese as a lure.  Bam!  He was in that truck so fast he was a blur.  Good boy, Bodie!

We have a full week ahead.  We’re stopping on Wednesday to meet Ted’s sisters, Deb and Sher, in Hudsonville, MI.  After that we’ll be on our way to Spring Lake, MI and four nights with cousins Dave and Di.  On Saturday there’s a family reunion at cousins Marv and Ruthie’s place in Marne, MI.  It’s going to be quite a wonderful week, filled with new family we’ve been so blessed to have found.

Then on Sunday morning, July 16, we’ll be leaving for Mackinac . . . . .

Our home-away-from-home for the next three months. We have the bottom unit on the right corner – right next to Grand Hotel’s turn-out corral for their Hackney horses.  Can’t wait to see those beauties running up and down the fence again.  The landscaping is in, and the condos look absolutely gorgeous. We’re hoping to get there in time for a condo party late that afternoon. See y’all soon, neighbors!

As soon as we’re on the island and I get everything up and running, I’ll report in on the blog.  Until then, you can always follow us on Facebook. I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of posting as we make our way to Mackinac!

Please offer up a safe travel pray for our journey, and I’ll talk to y’all soon!

God bless.

The Beach, the Island . . . . and Places Far Away 7/2/17

Hi Everyone, and a huge Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

We’re nine days away from leaving for Michigan, with an arrival date on Mackinac penciled in on or about July 16.¬† Once we reach Michigan, we’ll be visiting family along the way, and our gang will be spending¬†a few¬†nights with cousins Dave and Diane Bennick¬†near Grand Haven..¬†There’s also¬†a family reunion where we’ll¬†get to spend more time with cousins who visited us on the island last summer AND¬†meet relatives we have yet to see face to face.¬† Dave assures us that Bodie and Maddie are welcome and that there are four Golden Retrievers in their neighborhood for Bodie to play with.¬† LOL – this should be very interesting!

Bodie says he sincerely hopes everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for teenage goofballs who always seem to find a way to get into trouble – even when they’re not trying.

SPEAKING OF MACKINAC

Bruce LaPine shared this and the next two photos toward the end of Lilac Festival week. A Shelper’s boat rounds the breakwall, framed by lighthouses and white lilac blossoms.

The flower beds outside Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at Grand Hotel are flourishing!

More beautiful lilacs – overhanging a white picket fence and framing the Mackinac Bridge.

This is soooo cool . . . .

In honor of the 130th anniversary of Grand Hotel, David Lorch, PhD, LEGO designer, and engineer, created a 9 ft. replica of Grand Hotel made entirely out of LEGOS.

The details are impeccable and include people, horses, a Grand omnibus . . .

. . . . even the chess set on one end of the front porch and pots of geraniums!

I can’t wait to tell you about this . . . . . .

Mother and daughter team, Barbara Toms and Marcia Dunnigan (on the right), have joined together with artist Sharon Griffes Tarr (far left) to create the Mackinac Island Cottage Cookbook.  These three ladies held a book signing at the Island Bookstore last week.

The book is a compilation of Barbara and Marcia’s tried and true personal¬†recipes. Their cottage (shown above on the book cover)¬†is always filled with warmth and laughter, and these are two of my favorite “women of Mackinac”.¬† That front porch has been the scene of many an island party, and these¬†ladies know exactly how to make everyone feel welcome.

Sharon’s illustrations of island locations are beautiful and add even more fun and enjoyment to the book’s charm.¬† The Island Bookstore will carry the books, but if you don’t have a trip planned, Jill says just give the store a call, and they will be glad to ship it out.¬† She has one tucked away for me already, and I am excited to get my hands on it in a couple of weeks!

FROM THE BEACH

We’ve had such a great week at the beach.¬† Jason and Blake flew in on Wednesday, and on Wednesday night Julie, Jordan and Matthew joined us for grilled burgers.

It’s so hard to get everyone together in one place at one time!¬† We hated that Matt was out of town and couldn’t join us, and Jen and Alex couldn’t come because Alex had a swim meet.

Jason flew back to Atlanta on Friday, and Blake will be with us until this Friday when he’ll return to Colorado.¬† In mid-August Blake will return to Ankara, Turkey for a two-year commitment teaching English at a local university there.¬†¬†He is in the process of raising support.¬† Please keep Blake in your prayers for his safety and for his purpose there.¬† There is a need in that country, and work there can impact the regions surrounding it.

Please remember me too in your prayers during this time. This is hard.

FUN STUFF IN BEVERLY BEACH

Ted, Jason, Blake and I were at Turtle Shack Thursday night, and we ate outside. This huge crab sauntered across the sidewalk from behind the building, and when we got up to take a pic, he scooted behind¬†the tire of one of the cars nearby. He sat there until we finished eating and was still there when we left. Biggest crab we’ve seen down here so far.¬† I guess you can grow that big when you’re wise enough not to cross busy highways during dinner¬† hour.

PRETTY STUFF AT BEVERLY BEACH

On my way to work last week this lone cloud was hovering over the ocean. I pulled over to get this pic ’cause I thought it was kind of spectacular.

Talk about spectacular! Sunset from our deck last night. I don’t usually like iPhone photos of sunsets because they tend to wash out the colors. But this one was perfect.

One more spectacular shot.  Blake took this panorama as he was walking the beach last night at sunset!

THE PASSING OF A HERO

Those of you who follow this blog often read comments by “Jason-the other one”.¬† Jason has read the blog for many years, drawn to it because of his love of the island.¬† Jason served in Afghanistan until 2010 with Ben, his military service dog and partner.¬† Ben returned to the states a month ahead of Jason, then went home to meet Jason’s wife and parents (Jason had applied to adopt Ben when he knew the dog was being retired).¬† Jason returned overseas, and Ben spent the rest of his retirement with Jason’s family.¬† Jason would see him when he’d come home on vacations over the years.

Ben crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. Jason writes, “I’m writing to let you know my beloved partner Ben crossed oer the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with his passing. If not for him I wouldn’t be here today. He saved many lives, allowing countless service members to come home safely to their loved ones. He served our country with honor and had a very blessed retirement. He passed away at 14 years of age. Even at 14, he loved to play and rough house. He was found at home asleep on his bed. We guess it was just his time.”¬† The photo above is from Ben’s retirement ceremony in 2010.¬† His service years were March 2004-June 2010.¬† His last patrol in Afghanistan was June 5, 2010.

Rest in Peace, brave Ben, and thank you for your service.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

Friends – Part II (You Can Go Home Again) 6/29/17

My trip back to Georgia this past weekend was a mix of nostalgia and happiness, all rolled into a ball of emotions that at times made me teary-eyed, then rolled over and made me laugh out loud.

A few miles past the Georgia line I was already surrounded by trees that were green from the ground all the way up to their tip-top branches.  Instead of palm, I was passing pine, oak, and pecan trees, and they were anchored in miles of green grass.  I started grinning about there.


My first stop was Sylvester, my home town (I was born in Albany , but Sylvester was where I grew up and went to school from third grade through high school).  I drove out to the cemetery and visited mama and daddy, sheddng tears and talking to them for a while.  Yes, I know they aren’t there, and I know they’re busy enjoying Heaven.  But it made me feel as though we’d touched base anyway.  There’s a peace in that place, and I was the only one out there at that particular time.  It was a good visit.

I had called Wanda, a first cousin, on my way into town.  She wasn’t home, but I left a message, and just as I was about to leave Sylvester, she called back.  I swung by her house and stayed for a good hour, catching up on all the Sumner family news.

I stayed with Dawn and Stevie both Friday and Saturday nights, driving to see Helen during the day on Saturday.

At the ri’vah, a lot of transportation is done by golf cart. While we waited for Stevie to get home from work, Dawn and I headed for Booger Bottom, the local hangout . . .


. . . .where things had not changed one bit. There was a large group hanging out on the deck . . .


. . . and a table full of girlfriends on the inside!


Crossing Lake Blackshear at sunset. After Stevie got home we headed to Pat’s Camp and the best catfish on the river.

Saturday night, after I got back from Helen’s, Stevie grilled ribs, and I stuffed myself silly. Then we boarded the golf cart again and rode up and down the street, stopping and visiting as we went.  That’s just the way it’s done at the ri’vah, and I have sure missed it.  Soooo good to see everyone – love y’all!

We all have those friends who, even though we don’t talk to them often – and see them even less than that – we know they’re there for us. And vice versa. Dawn is one of those friends. Even though she’s almost 15 years younger than I am, we’re like two peas in a pod – like the same things, don’t like the same things. We get each other. Maybe it’s because she’s from Sylvester too! Love you, Dawnie!

I left their house Sunday morning and instead of turning left on Hwy. 280, I went straight across to Flintside Drive, where Ted and I lived for so long.  I drove down that road that wanders the curves of the Flint River for almost five miles, every mile making my heart hurt a little more.  But, when I slowly drove by our place, it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would.  I loved that house.  It was home for a lot of years.  But as I turned around at the end of the street, and started back out to the highway, I realized it was the people and the ri’vah itself I miss so much – not the house.  Ted and I have been married 29 years, and we lived at the ri’vah almost 20 of those years.  It was a big part of our lives together.  I’ve missed it.

I connected back to I-75 and drove toward Florida, stopping at the Florida Welcome Center just over the Florida-Georgia line.

As I got out of the car and looked around the parking area, there were cars from as many states as there were parking spots.  A line of folks were waiting to get a photo snapped of themselves standing under the new “Welcome to Florida” sign. I looked around and took in the newly planted palm trees, seeing them through all these visitors’ eyes – so different from Georgia and just about every other state in the U.S.  I could see their appeal.

I smiled and walked inside for my free sample of orange juice.  Then I was back on my way further south.

Even though Florida is now where I live, and Mackinac Island has my heart, Georgia will forever be where I come from.  I love its red clay and pine trees, its peanut and cotton and tobacco fields, its slow talking Southern drawl. I was born in Georgia, and it’s where my children were born. It’s where my mama and daddy are buried, and it’s where my relatives and many wonderful friends still live.

I loved going home again.

God bless.

 

 

 

Friends – Part I 6/26/17

Sometimes you just have to pack a bag, get in your car, and go on a road trip by yourself.

I did that this weekend.

Ted babysat the dogs, and I headed for Georgia.¬† My original intent was to visit my very best friend in all the world – Helen McCorvey – and her husband Paul.¬† I did that, but I also got to spend time with cousin Wanda in Sylvester, spend two nights with wonderful friends Dawn and her husband Stevie¬†– AND got to see tons of friends at the ri’vah (where we lived for many years before we moved to Florida).¬† It was a very special few days, and I arrived home Sunday afternoon with my heart overflowing with the joy of friendships that never change – regardless of how much time has passed since we’ve even been in the same state.

Helen was my Junior year English teacher at Worth County High School in Sylvester GA.¬† Paul taught me World History.¬† Neither had been long out of college.¬† It was¬†Paul’s fourth year teaching and Helen’s second.¬† Paul made history as exciting as it could be for this girl who hates history, but the time I spent in Helen’s class changed my life forever.¬† She taught words and language and expression with a passion I’d never heard before.¬† She opened the world of writing to me and planted the seed that took years to germinate into a blog – but germinate it did, and I have Helen to thank for that.

But that’s not where the story ends.¬† In the late 80’s I was a single mom working in a bank when Helen was named Public Information Director for the Dougherty County School System in Albany GA.¬† I heard she was looking for a secretary and called her, even though we hadn’t spoken in almost 20 years.¬† I told her who I was, said I’d heard she needed a secretary and that I was interested in the job.¬† She said, “Can you type?”¬† I said, “Yes, I can.”¬† She said, “You’re hired.”

And so a relationship, which began in a high school English class, has now spanned over 50 years.  I worked for Helen until she retired, and what I learned from her over those years qualified me to take not her place (nobody could) Рbut her position in the school system, where I worked until my own retirement.

Working for Helen was like being in her class every day of the year.¬† She taught me more than I could have ever learned from anyone else (the mechanics of publications, writing, design and marketing),¬†but instead of giving me grades on a report card, she gave me her friendship.¬† Over the years Ted and I, she and Paul, and another couple went on annual “after-Christmas” trips to the beach together.¬† We exchange gifts and cards¬†on important occasions, and we love each other across the miles that separate us.

Helen hails from Charleston and is¬†the consummate genteel Southern lady.¬† She¬†still speaks with¬†a Charleston drawl that I admit took me a while to understand back in the day.¬† The first time she asked me to look in a “draaaaw” for something, I scratched my head and said, “Ma’am?”¬† I finally figured out she was saying “drawer”.

Helen always dressed to perfection, with never a hair out of place and with makeup perfectly applied.  None of that has changed a lick. She was always prepared, always had projects ready ahead of deadline, would not accept anything but perfection in grammar and punctuation (I always worry about that since I know she reads this blog), and made it all look as easy and natural as breathing.

As a friend she is loyal, trustworthy, true, kind and loving.  She saw me through some of the roughest times of my life and never once judged the many mistakes I made.  She was the big sister I never had, and I love her to the moon and back.  I remain in awe that she feels the same way about me.

In a nutshell, Helen was my hero.  She still is.

When Helen retired, I gave her a little framed¬†memento¬†that read, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.¬† I hope mine is right next door to yours.”¬† Lord, I pray you work out a way to make that happen, even if I’m just in the shed out back.

Helen loves the outdoors and her beautiful yard shows it.  They live on a beautiful Pine Mountain ridge near Manchester and Warm Springs.

Helen and I during our days of working together. This was probably at a Teacher of the Year banquet. She has this framed and sitting near their fireplace. Lawd! Was I blonde or what!

Paul did the photography honors and snapped this Saturday afternoon as I was preparing to leave.

I’m still smiling about seeing this beautiful lady this weekend.¬† We went out to eat lunch at the Bulloch House in Warm Springs, and everyone in the place knew Helen and Paul. That didn’t surprise me at all.¬† They’re just good people.

Hope to see you again soon, Helen and Paul! Love you more.

__________________________________________________________________

More on my time at Lake Blackshear this weekend in a couple of days!  It was so much fun!

 

 

 

Counting Down to Mackinac 6/20/17

Hi Everyone!

Lots of personal news to share tonight . . . .

We’ll be leaving for Michigan on or around July 10 (around three weeks), and the days leading up to our departure are just about as packed as they can be!

This week – on Friday, I’m leaving for Georgia on a road trip – the first solo trip I’ve taken in a very long time.¬† On my agenda is a two-night visit with my wonderful friend Dawn at the “ri’vah” and her husband Stevie (hoping to see other friends while I’m there too)!.¬† I’ll spend Friday night with them, then on Saturday morning drive to Manchester GA to visit my best, best, best friend in all the world, Helen McCorvey and her husband Paul.¬† It’s been way too long since we’ve had a chance to catch up face-to-face, and I can’t wait to see them.¬† I claim Helen as the sister I never had.¬† She taught me English in high school in Sylvester¬†GA, and I worked with her in the Public Information Office of the Dougherty County School System in Albany GA.¬†¬†It was Helen who gave me my first encouragement in writing.¬† ¬†We go “way back”, and I love her and Paul to the moon and back.¬† I’ll return to Dawn and Stevie’s on Saturday night, then head back to Florida on Sunday.

The next week, on Wednesday, June 28, both Jason and Blake will fly into Daytona Beach.¬† Jason will be here until that Friday, and Blake is staying another week after that.¬† This will be Jason’s, Ted’s and my last chance to¬†spend time with¬†Blake before he leaves the middle of August for a two-year commitment¬†to teach in¬†Ankara Turkey (he’ll be home for 4 weeks next summer).¬† More on that later in the summer, but please keep Blake in your prayers now as he prepares, and over the next months as he makes this transition.¬† I have a lot of concerns as a mom about this, so please also remember me as you pray.

Blake flies back to Colorado on Friday July 7, and Ted, the fur babies, and I will load up and leave for Michigan either Monday or Tuesday of the following week.¬† Once we make it to Michigan we will spend time meeting and visiting with more of Ted’s newly found family.¬† There’s even a family reunion planned!¬† We are very excited!

Then – if all goes as planned, and the good Lord is willing – we’ll arrive on Mackinac Island on Sunday, July 16, where we plan to stay until mid-October.

Somewhere in the middle of¬†all that will be doctor, hair, nail, dog grooming and car servicing appointments.¬† Mail will be forwarded, live indoor plants will be “fostered out” to sweet neighbors, the boat will come out of the water and be put in dry storage, and outdoor furniture will be moved indoors.

Whew!

So . . . . until we arrive on the island, I’m just going to post occasionally when I come up for air!.¬† Once we’re on the island, I promise to get back to doing what you all love – sharing beautiful Mackinac.

A FEW MACKINAC PICS

A few entries from this past Sunday’s 69th Annual Lilac Festival Parade! A beautiful team of horses photographed by Heather May for May’s Fudge.

The ever popular Clown Band. (Photo: Joann’s Fudge)

A great group from the Pink Pony float! (Photo: Pink Pony)

Lilacs and Love! (Photo: Dan Denardo)

Two blog readers – Karen and Barbara – meet over the books stacks in Island Bookstore (with a little help from Jill). I LOVE when that happens!

AND FROM SUNSET INLET . . .

We got new dining room furniture recently, and we’ve been searching for a piece of art to go over the buffet. We found it in this photograph by Kenny Fasnacht through Ocean Art Gallery in Flagler Beach.¬†He captured perfectly our cinnamon beach, beautiful sky and ocean, and the Flagler Pier before it was damaged by Hurricane Matthew. If you zoom in on this photo, you can actually see the grains of sand on the beach. We thought it was beautiful . . .

. . . and it was perfect for that spot!

“Make him stop looking at me, dad!” LOL – just look at that crab’s beady little eyes!¬† I can’t wait for Bodie to get to Mackinac and realize he’s going to be somewhere cool (relatively speaking) for three months, with woods galore to explore.¬† I think he’s going to be one very happy Golden!

Finally – acceptance. Maddie would groom Bear’s face every morning, but this¬†was the first time I’d ever seen her do it to Bodie. He seemed to enjoy it as much as she did. I guess she’s finally decided he can stay. So sweet.

Ok – that’s all for now.¬† I’ll be checking in over the next three weeks as often as I can.¬† Take care!¬† Love you all!

God bless.