|The current prompt by Ariana Browning for The Blogging Lounge.|
Steubenville area, mostly, but great aunts and uncles were scattered around the state. After our move, seeing them became a big chore although some did come here to visit from time to time.
This story is about something that happened several times during our growing up years and I am sure my sister and brother, as well as my mom, have different memories of these visits, but I can only relate my own.
Sometimes someone would come to Michigan and pick us up or sometimes...
We would all five load into the car and head south to some predetermined point to meet someone from the left behind family for a big ole picnic and fun in some roadside park. Sometimes one or two of us would return to Ohio from these meet-ups for the remainder of the summer. The family we met would either be my Aunt Joan and Uncle Jim and their two daughters, Cindy and Joey or our grandparents, Dad's parents, and sometimes our Aunt Mimi who lived with them until their passing.
My brother usually went at the same time that I went and usually for a couple or three weeks. This time I was going alone for a month. I remember it because Momma had talked with me several times about how I couldn't get homesick and whine to come home because no one could bring me or come and get me until my time was up. At the end of the month the aunt and grandmother would be bringing me home. She needn't have worried because I didn't get homesick and I didn't ask to go home because I was everyone's center of attention and I loved it there.
The picnic was fun, as always, and I remember there being a stream that we waded in to keep cool while the adults sat at a picnic table and talked and laughed. I loved a picnic back then and honestly still do. It was an experience I think all kids should have. Nothing there to entertain us, just nature and family and good homemade picnic food.
My grandmother, Mom-Mom, was a short and round woman ever since I can remember. I have pictures of her in her youth and she wasn't always round, but in my lifetime, she was. She was also always very beautiful. Her hair was usually done and neat and didn't show gray until very late in her life. It was very dark brown and I don't think it was colored. I think it was perfect. She smiled a lot. I adored her laugh because it was genuine and used her whole body. She literally shook with laughter and I loved that.
The visits with them were unique because we didn't always do things or go places, though visiting those aunts and uncles were sometimes on our agenda, we just spent time together doing family stuff. Weeding the garden, or picking the vegetable. Cooking was a daily thing and she let me help and showed me how to do things her way. She talked with me if I was with her and left me to myself when I chose to be alone. She understood me and loved me. I thought all grandmothers were like her. They aren't. My mother's mother wasn't like her. She was distant and cool. She tolerated my brief visits and never invited me to spend the night. I was secretly glad of that.
Living in Mom-Mom's house along with Pop-Pop, were our two aunts. Mimi and Ede were both single and neither ever married. Mimi spent my entire visit planning things with me after work or on week-ends. Sometimes it was really fun stuff and sometimes she just took me with her to whatever she had to do, either way I liked it. The pottery stores were among my favorite memories. I loved walking through those and always buying something. Ede wasn't so much into having me around, but she did pay me to do her ironing! I liked earning money and knew I'd get to get inside the freezer to clean it out once it had defrosted during my visit and that paid well! I liked shopping with my own money even back then.
My Aunt Joan always invited me to spend a few days with her. I know now that it was to give my grandmother a break, but as a kid, I believed she enjoyed having me. Maybe both are true. I loved going there and being the older girl in the house. I loved my cousins because they were fun and very nice to me. I had other cousins on my mom's side that I also loved and spent time with and Aunt Jean and Uncle Roy were very kind to me and always made me feel very special. Uncle Roy is my mom's brother and the only member of her family that really seemed to love me. I remember these aunts and uncles as particularly loving people who welcomed this northern girl with open arms.
These trips got longer as I got older and eventually began Memorial Week-end and lasted until Labor Day week-end. They are very vivid in my mind and time I cherish with all my heart. Without these, I would not have known any of my cousins very well nor would I have had all those hours of one-on-one time with my extended family and that is a treasure I have because my family understood the value. I understand the value of family time to this day and I am quite sure it is because I had these summers in Ohio.