Road Trips, Volley Ball Games, and a little . . . Time Travel 10/19/2012

If there’s ever a time to take a road trip through northern and middle Michigan, fall is when you want to go!

When Jill and I met up in Mackinaw City Wednesday morning, I was hoping – in addition to a wonderful planned visit with Jill’s parents and with Lowell and Faye – that we’d be driving for two days through God’s beautiful autumn handiwork.  The fall showcase peaked on the Island a week or so ago, and with the on-and-off-and-on wind and rain, the color remaining is beginning to look a bit ragged.  Since we’d be traveling four hours south, I thought we just might catch some fresh-down-the-runway color as we traveled downstate first on I-75, then on US 127 into Lansing.

The colors might not have been “fresh”, but they sure were bright!

Unfortunately, after an hour or so of chatting non-stop my eyelids did what they usually do once I get comfy in a car on a long trip – they closed.  I stayed awake more on the return trip, so I did get some pretty foliage photos (more on that on Monday).

Jill drove – partly because we were going to places she knew well – and partly because she knows my can’t-keep-my-eyes open-in-a-car reputation!  Smart girl!

We made one stop so I could see the Soaring Eagle casino in Mt. Pleasant. HUGE does not describe it. A casino, an entertainment venue (Johnny Mathis was up next), a conference center,  and a luxury hotel – all combined into one lush package. Wow!

Jill usually doesn’t go back to Lansing until the end of the season, so this trip (about two weeks early) was to be a surprise for her two nieces, Haley and Ashlynn, who think their Aunt Jill hung the moon, the stars, the planets, and – of course – the sun!  We met Jill’s mom and dad – Joanne and Ken – at the nieces’ home so we’d be there when youngest niece Ashlynn arrived home from school.

Really no words needed! Ashlynn spotted Jill from about a block away and FLEW down the street . . . .

. . . happy, happy, happy little girl!

We all climbed into Ken and Joanne’s car and headed for a volley ball game at the middle school, where 12-year-old Haley would be playing – totally unaware that Aunt Jill was anywhere around.

Haley was warming up when we arrived, and it didn’t take her 10 seconds to spot Jill!

Haley’s team won 2-out-of-three games, and Haley (that’s her on the right side of the net – closest to the net and closest to the camera – #13) made several points. She is quite the little athlete!

Wow – this brought back so many happy memories! I spent a whole lot of “mom” time watching my boys play sports!

After the game and after picking Jill’s car back up, we made a few shopping stops, then went to Ken and Joanne’s home for the evening.

Driving into Jill’s childhood neighborhood.

Joanne warmed up a big pot of beef stew, which really hit the spot after being out and about in a chilly rain.  I turned in fairly early, read for an hour or so, and dropped off to sleep as a train passed in the distance – a sound I haven’t heard in a long while.

I’ve met Jill’s parents on several occasions over the last four summers, but have never had more than a few minutes to talk with them.  So, I especially loved being able to sit down over coffee, cantaloupe, and freshly baked pecan pastry Thursday morning and chat for a while.

Joanne is one of those women who always looks like she’s ready to go someplace special. She is a beautiful lady with a sense of style that comes as naturally as her smile. Ken is sweet and handsome and has a great sense of humor.

Over the few hours I spent with them, I learned that they have been in the same house since the 60’s, purchasing it at the same time other young couples were buying in this East Lansing neighborhood and starting their families.  They even still have some of the same neighbors – like Nancy, who I met Wednesday night and who has lived across the street from them for years.

I learned that Jill is the apple of her daddy’s eye, and that he loves “taking care” of his little girl. Even before I got out of bed Thursday morning, he was outside checking his daughter’s car’s tires, checking the oil . . . just making sure everything was ok.

When I went upstairs to pack my pj’s and put on my traveling clothes, I was suddenly struck with memories of sitting at the breakfast table talking to my mom and dad.  You know how things like that creep up on you – when you least expect them?  I had to sit down on the bed and fight tears before I could go back downstairs to say goodbye.

When I hugged Ken and Joanne goodbye, I was still afraid I was going to start boo-hooing all over them, so I just said, “Thank you so much for having me.”  Joanne looked a little worried, and I said, “I’m ok – just having a sentimental moment.  Can’t talk about it.”

But I will now.

Joanne and Ken aren’t nearly old enough to be my mom and dad.  But sitting there with them that morning – watching the way they interacted, the way they looked at each other, their back-and-forth banter at the breakfast table – took me back to some of those same moments in my childhood home.  The love they feel for each other – and for Jill and their two sons – is so evident on their faces it was almost like something drew me into a time machine and put me back at the red Formica kitchen table on Washington Street in Sylvester, GA.

So, Joanne and Ken – for the warm hospitality and hot stew, for the coffee, sweet cantaloupe, and pecan rolls, for the comfortable bed and lovely linens – thank you so much.  But what I’ll really cherish and what I’ll always remember of our time together is feeling as though I’d stepped through a looking glass into the past – and spent a few minutes with my mama and daddy.

And for that – there aren’t any words special enough to write.

Hope you  join me back here on Sunday evening or Monday morning for the rest of our road trip story – meeting Lowell and Faye Greene.  God bless.

11 thoughts on “Road Trips, Volley Ball Games, and a little . . . Time Travel 10/19/2012

  1. Bree, what a wonderful story this is. Jill is blessed with great parents that seem really sweet. The trees in Jill’s neighborhood were beautiful! Glad you had such a fun road trip, you traveled the same two highways I do to get to the island, I pick up US 127 about 30 minutes from home and enjoy that beautiful drive up north, (hopefully you saw more of it on your return trip). :). Looking forward to your story of your visit to meet Lowell.

  2. I had tears in my eyes remembering my late parents even before you mentioned your sentimental moment. Remembering my father checking out my car before hitting the road really hit me. I am so glad you had a good time with Jill and her parents.

  3. Ok, I was good until I read the line about the looking glass into the past and the tears welled up. You do that all the time Brenda!! You have such a gift for writing.
    Jill’s mom and dad sound so warm, friendly and down to earth. Such love for their children that you can feel it.
    Jill you have some wonderful parents!

  4. Well, those tears snuck up on me, but the memories sure are sweet. Seems a bunch of us know how you felt, and probably would have been misty-eyed, too. I love hearing about loving families with generations of connections! Does a heart good.
    And yes, we use 127 and then 75 when we go north, too, even though 23 is closer and (modestly) quicker. Much prefer the small towns and the pretty scenery and the slower traffic! We’ve found several nice diners in small towns over the years, too. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about Lowell and Faye!!!

  5. There,,,my eyes are freshly washed now! Niceeeee story 😀 You are blessed to have Jill in your life.
    Thanks for sharing…..both you & Jill! 😀

  6. I think all who know Brenda realize that she is neither the glass half full nor the glass half empty. Her glass is overflowing. Thank you for all your kind words and for giving us a chance to know you better. Can hardly wait to learn more about Lowell and Faye on your next blog.

  7. Bree,
    I have a hard time reading these stories through my tears!
    I just returned home from my parents house they have owned since the 60’s also. My dad is passed but I had a great visit with my mom. Those chats at the kitchen table are priceless.
    How wonderful you got to spend time with Jill and her beautiful loving family. It says a lot about her parents.
    I love the stories from the island, but these stories you write so special and touching.
    Thank you again. Feeling the love all the way down here in Cincinnati!
    Jill is very blessed!

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