Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day Trip, Part Two

On Sunday, we met up with some of Shannon's high school friends and their kids at the Memphis Botanical Gardens. My Big Backyard is set up for kids, so much so that Nate kept Mark too busy to get any photos of us girls. Which is just as well, since we were all pretty wilted from the afternoon heat.

In addition to catching up with good old friends, Shannon really enjoyed the monstrous magnolias, in bloom this time of year.

Wanting to take a different route home, we went north to see the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. With only a few hours to spend there, we just scratched the surface of the amazing exhibits and attractions in the park. But our day included a horse-pulled trolley ride, a pony ride for Nate (riding without Mama by his side for the first time, he showed no fear and even removed one hand to wave and pet Dudley,) a brief presentation of several retired racing champion horses, monuments to several famous horses buried in the Park, and a mare and foal presentation. 

Finally, we visited cousins Molly, John, Annalese, Lucy, and Isaac at their home in West Virginia. The second cousins graciously took Nate under their wing, and he again played for long stretches without so much as a check-in with Mama and Daddy. As much as we enjoy his company, breaks like that are welcome these days, allowing our eardums relief from his insightful but incessant commentary and questions.

It was a wonderful time together with family and friends. We are so grateful to our many hosts and hostesses, and hope to return the favor soon. Right after we get the swimming pool and master bath operational.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Memorial Day Trip, Part One

We drove to Memphis for a very special Memorial Day weekend, with a memorial service for Granny and Papaw, and visits with family and friends.

After a fun (although too-short) time with Kim, Johnny and Baby Maegan in Knoxville, we detoured en route to Memphis to see the cabin Papaw had built on the Tennessee River. It has been sold to another owner, but I was glad to show Mark the amazing job Papaw had done, with no formal training and no professional help.

The mountainous site has a beautiful view of the Tennessee River Valley, but an almost impossibly steep grade.

Papaw chiseled the family name into this stone, and built the long stone wall into which it is placed. The love and proud workmanship are still so evident, decades later.

In Memphis, we stayed with cousins Chris, Susie and Caitlyn. Nate experienced not a moment's boredom. Chris played the electric guitar, Susie taught him to throw a Frisbee for the dogs,  and Brody and Sam were willing to be chased around the yard for hours. Caitlyn drew for and with him, and convinced him that her upstairs bedroom was the tardis from Dr. Who. Which might be true, as he disappeared for long stretches of time, leaving Mama and Daddy to be wined and dined by their hosts.  Even the cats sought him out, a rare treat for a three-year-old boy.

The memorial service was a warm, loving remembrance of two amazing people, and the family they loved so much.
After the service was a brief graveside service. A Navy color guard was in attendance, honoring Papaw's service in WWII. After playing Taps, they presented a flag to my mother and her sisters, "on behalf of the President of the United States, a grateful nation, and the U.S. Navy." 

The grave marker reminded me of Papaw's oft-quoted philosophy, "Ain't Nothing But Money." Although a frugal man, he always knew what mattered most. 

We gathered afterward with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and got a rare group shot. Well, two: the kids insisted on one 'goofy' one. 

And one of the three sisters: