I survived my first plane trip and wanted to share a little bit about my trip down memory lane with all of you! Be prepared because as my Pop-pop would say, ‘This might take a while’.
Last week proved to be one of the most stressful weeks I can remember. I have been trying to refocus my life in so many areas. And on top of the everyday stresses of a large family and back to school worries I got the call that I really needed to head back to my childhood home.
While I call Florida home right now I was born in Pennsylvania. I grew up about an hour from Philadelphia in the mushroom capital of the world, Kennett Square.
Funny the things you didn’t know, huh? We were also very close to the Amish and Mennonite communities. In fact several of my siblings were delivered by an Amish midwife.
My visit wasn’t about sightseeing or pleasure. I needed to go visit my Mom-mom, our name for grandmother, who isn’t doing very well right now. I had last visited her and Pop-pop, our word for grandfather, around Easter of 2014 when we all traveled to Virginia to meet. It was a wonderful visit and we made some very special memories. Honestly, we thought it would probably be the last time we saw each other.
She is fighter though! She says we get our stubbornness from her. While that may be true we also learned a lot more from her. She was the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman in so many ways. She acted as a mentor to many to teach them skills that their mothers/grandmothers had not taught them. She loved the old ways and she loved gardening.
She suffered many troubles in her life but you never heard her complain. I have never heard anyone speak a bad word about her and she was always willing to help anyone in need. So if I could help her by making a visit I wanted to do this for her. Love can generate the courage we need to overcome any fear or obstacle.
One of the biggest obstacles I had to face was my fear of flying which is up there close to my fear of the water. I have been working on overcoming these fears and I decided that this was something that just had to happen. Granted it wasn’t a decision that came easy as I also had to consider my budget, babysitters, and many other aspects.
Everything came together as my family all helped out. Mr. Awesome said he would babysit while I was away and insisted that I go. Once those issues were squared away I committed to go and my sister soon informed me that a plane ticket had been purchased.
After many instructions about what not to pack I had to decided what to pack. I waited until the last minute to pack but managed to get everything I needed into one small carry on bag. I wanted to keep things simple and I did. Friday afternoon Mr. Awesome and the kids drove me to meet up with my sisters and then we said our ‘Good Byes’.
I really did my best to hide my nervousness and anxiety which by this time was more about leaving my kiddos behind. They were really anxious too as Momma doesn’t go many places without them in tow. I had already decided to make a couple of videos of me reading some bedtime stories for them to watch while I was gone. I got to work on it while I was at my sister’s house.
You can see them all here and I do plan to add some more in the future.
After that was taken care of it was time to head to the airport and tackle my fear of flying head on. This was a totally new experience and it could have been really overwhelming but I had one of my sisters with me and that helped a lot. I had taken a book to read on the flight but I was a bit dizzy and didn’t think it would be a good idea to try to read it.
Later that night we made it into Philadephia, the city of brotherly love, and we were soon on our way to Mom-mom’s house. Both of our phones lost service/died before we reached out destination so we had to rely on our internal GPS to get us home.
I had not been to Pennsylvania in over 20 years and I have never driven anywhere in the state plus it was dark so things were a bit strange. Little by little we started recognizing landmarks and places and we found our way. A little after midnight we pulled up into the driveway of that familiar place. While things looked different than we remembered the feeling was the same.
This was taken the next day.
My mom met us at the car and led us up the stairs that we had climbed so many times when we were younger. The steps where Charlie, Mom-mom’s dog, had once chased me because he wanted to pull the pompom off my hat, the porch where many an ice cream cone had dripped on hot summer evenings, and the porch where Mom-mom had more than once applied tobacco to a bee sting. So many forgotten memories flooded my mind it brought tears to my eyes.
Part of my family and Charlie. I am the one in red with the pig tails.
Many more memories were waiting inside those walls. It is so funny how things that once seemed so big were now so much smaller. While many things had not changed since I was younger a few things had. I walked around the downstairs looking and reminiscing as we talked to mom.
We knew the next day would be busy so we headed upstairs to get a little rest. Once again being surrounded by so many familiar things. Although the strange noises coming from the open windows were new they were also kind of familiar as I remember having trouble sleeping there because of the noises and the lights.
My first birthday party with my older brother and two of my cousins.
The next morning we had a surprise visit from one of our cousins who, along with mom, fixed us a nice breakfast. We shared a few stories over coffee before getting started with our day. We also visited with another cousin on Sunday. I checked in with Mr. Awesome and the kids to see how everyone was doing.
These are some of the messages and photos I received:
And then there were some like this:
After talking with Mr. Awesome I wanted to walk up the steep path to the garden, curious to see if the berry bushes and the apple trees were still there, but the rain had made everything very slick. I walked up a little ways but decided to make my way back down before I fell and broke something like Mom-mom had many years ago.
She was such a strong woman. She made that trek up the steep hill on an almost daily basis. On one of those occasions she fell and broke her ankle. Charlie stayed by her side as she made her way back down to the house to call for help. You know who she called when she made it home? My mom. She wanted someone to come help her clean herself up before getting medical attention. She said she was so muddy and bloody that she didn’t want anyone to see her like that.
She did eventually make it to the hospital where she received a metal plate and several screws to fix the damage. I remember staying with her that summer to help her as she recuperated. I also remember her doing several things that I wasn’t supposed to tell Pop-pop about including her driving to the post office and helping her get to her hidden stash of Tube Rose. I hadn’t told anyone until this past weekend.
While we were at the house we looked through pictures like these pictures of Mom-mom and Pop-pop.
They were such a good looking couple, weren’t they?
We also found some that we had no clue she even had like these:
Yep, that’s me in 1988 dressed as a clown. The right picture is of my granny and some of her great grandchildren. I’m the one in red again.
There were also several older pictures that we aren’t sure of who they are:
One of these is my great, great grandmother.
We spent as much time over the next couple of days at the nursing home. She was so surprised to see us. We had taken her and Pop-pop a couple of jelly donuts as these were one of their favorites.
As you can see in the picture above she insisted on making everyone take a bite. She wouldn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer. My tears from seeing her were soon replaced with laughter.
We also brought several other treats to share with Pop-pop. We sat and talked and listened to her sing. She told us stories that we had never heard and some that we had heard many times before. She apologized for things that had happened in the past and explained things that we couldn’t have understood when we were younger.
We looked through old pictures and talked about those already gone. She did talk about how she didn’t have much time left here but that she was ready to go home.
While this was sad to think about, many tears were shed during our visits, she reassured us that she would see us again in her new home. She reminded each of us of how much she loved us and how special each every one of her grandchildren are to her.
The nursing home staff were wonderful and accommodated us on so many levels as they knew we didn’t have much time to spend with her. We were able to have a ‘family dinner’ with her in one of the rooms that they weren’t using one evening. It was so nice to sit around the table with family. She had wanted to pretend it was her birthday and we had an ice cream cake after dinner.
It was also good to see both of them eating so well. She was constantly reminding us of how much macaroni and cheese we ate at her house.
Our last night there was hard. We didn’t want to go but we knew that we had other obligations, like my family at home, that we had to attend to. My brain tried to come up with a solution to spend more time but nothing feasible could be found.
We were able to stay with her until she went to sleep that night. Later that evening I sat with Pop-pop as we shared a 3 Musketeers bar. His favorite candy bar. He told me that the thought of losing her scared him and he didn’t know what he would do without her. I told him it scared us all and we talked for awhile before he was ready to go to bed.
I cried when he told me he didn’t want me to go and I had to explain to him that I have kids that need me too. We said our ‘Good Byes’ before he headed upstairs as we knew we had to leave early in the morning.
Morning came too early and soon we were in our brother’s car headed back to the airport. The plane ride home was sad but another new experience as well as it was daylight during this trip.
The closer we got to home the more anxious I got. I was so ready to see everyone. I was so happy to see the coastline as I knew I was closer to being back home.
We finally landed and my sister picked us up from the airport. Mr. Awesome arrived shortly after and we headed home. I was exhausted from the trip for various reasons but I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go and I am hoping that I may have a chance to visit again.
My Mom-mom is one of the greatest women I have known. She was wise and understanding. She could be trusted with anything big or small. She was caring and loving in her own way. I don’t remember hearing her say she loved us so many times as she did during this visit.
During our childhood when things were bad or crazy she stayed the same. She was our constant though difficult times and I am so thankful that we had her for the time we did. Even when we moved away she was there for us if we ever needed her but I admit I did lose touch with a lot of family members for a while.
If I could be half the woman she has been I will feel like I have accomplished something. The treasures she will be leaving behind may not be physical and may not mean anything to anyone else but she will be leaving behind a legacy that all of her family will cherish forever.
I am going to do my best to follow in her footsteps as much as I can. I hate that we missed so much time together and I hate that I didn’t have the chance to learn so many of the things she could have taught me. For now, I will keep pulling memories so I can be sure to teach my children some of those valuable lessons that she taught me when I was younger.
If I could just ask everyone who reads this to please say a little prayer for my family as we go through this difficult process. I know this is something that almost everyone must go through at some point in their life but it isn’t easy. Just pray that God will have His way and that He will give us all the strength and courage to get through this. There are still so many preparations that need to be taken care of and I know that there will be so many decisions to make in the next few days, weeks, and months so I pray that He will guide each and everyone of us.
Thank you all!
Do you have someone in your past that was a great role model? What is your favorite memory?