My week of travel to see family and friends has come to a close, and we’re flying back to California today (flying as you’re reading). It’s always bittersweet when a long awaited holiday ends—it was great fun while it lasted, but it’s good to be going back home too. I’ve been able to reflect and think about all the places I’ve gone to the past week, smile at the conversations and stories that were told by people I love, and wipe a few tears away every now and then. I’m ready to get back to writing, filled with inspiration. Since I’m still in a reflective mode, I have a few take-aways from the trip that I’d thought I’d share with you.
Take That Trip
We drove over 700 miles the past 6 days (after flying almost 2000 miles cross-country) and I have to admit I’m more than a bit road weary. However, I’m so lucky for deciding to sit back and enjoy the rides. The hills and mountains of east Tennessee, North Carolina, and east Kentucky were amazingly beautiful this time of year. I have never seen so many shades of green foliage on the hillsides. The towns we spent time in were filled with whimsy and country humor. The people we met as fellow travelers always shared interesting tidbits. It always amazes me that for a brief moment in time, we all are friends, sharing and laughing, before going our separate ways—most likely to never see each other again. That’s magic folks, and it’s why I love to travel.
Listen to Those Stories
It was family reunion time this trip. I saw cousins and aunts and uncles that I hadn’t seen in over 35 years. As we gathered together for dinner, breakfasts, and the reunion BBQ, I have never laughed so much–it was as if time flew out the door. I loved listening to the stories of my grandparents, aunts and uncles and their shenanigans back in ‘the good ole days’. We played a fun game (thank you cousin Janie and her beautiful daughters for hosting us) where we drew names out of a hat that had a person’s nickname, and we all had to guess how he or she obtained that moniker. Bud aka Rosebud because of his pink cheeks. Pop who played mom and pop as a kid with his sister Elmira, remaining Pop forever-more. Toots–well probably no explanation needed here 😉 We all have stories in our families that should be told over and over again to not only make us laugh, but also let us remember where we came from. You learn something new every time—I even got a new murder method for a future book courtesy of my cousin Liz. Let’s just say don’t ever go to a pig farm with someone who doesn’t like you 🙂
Shed Those Tears
Coming back to Kentucky brings back many bittersweet moments for me, remembering the people in my life who have passed on. I went to my father’s grave site for the first time in 35 years. My cousin Mike knew the way to the cemetery where he was buried (I would have never found it on my own). We walked the rows of graves, looking for his headstone. I can still hear my sister’s voice yelling, “found him”. I walked over to meet her and gave her a hug. We both cried as we looked down at his headstone, remembering a sweet man with a good heart who struggled with his personal demons. I was so glad we came—and overjoyed we got to remember a man we loved very much.
Don’t Look Back (Trips are OK though)
I was the only person in my family who moved away and went cross country. There were lots of events I missed leaving home, but I know it was the best thing for me to do, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities nor life I have now if I had never left. I think about the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s—but that’s not very productive I’ve found. The past is gone, the future’s not here. For me, life is best enjoyed in the here and now. It’s good to come back for visits, but my life is not there anymore. I’m comfortable in my shoes these days, and that’s the best feeling there is.
I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I’m so grateful for all those who have served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice. Bless them and their families always.
Photos above were taken at the beautiful Biltmore House & Gardens and Winery—highly recommended. Gemma would approve 🙂
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Today’s post is in honor of my late father, Harry Andrew Cline, aka Pop. 🙂