|Our fabulous three-week family reunion began on the first of August, drawing members from around the country and beyond. First to arrive, was my French sister, whom we hadn't seen in almost two years and her youngest daughter, who hadn’t made the crossing since “THE Wedding” in Princeton, nearly three years ago.
I met them at the airport and, as always when Judy comes in, we just picked up where we left off. Such a delight! An artist and a writer, she is also so much fun to be with. And my niece is charming, fun and the sweetest gal you’ll ever meet.
They stayed with our other sister, Wendy, but we enjoyed every day together, whether it was cruising one of Cleveland’s fabulous clothing, home or specialty food shops, walking around Chagrin Falls and admiring the lovely old homes and their charming gardens, and the falls themselves, re-discovering Horseshoe Lake, or simply sharing one of many of Wendy’s fabulous dinners, it was wonderful to be together again.
On Friday of that first week, the rest of the family started filtering in. Next to arrive was my dear brother Chris, his wife, Connie, and their three children, aged 14, 18 and 21, with doggie, Mac, in tow. They drove up from their home in Charlotte, NC, at least an eight-hour drive.
The day after they arrived, Judy, my niece and I made the trip to Mentor Headlands Park, on Lake Erie, to meet them for some beach time and a little picnic. Former Clevelanders, they had an agenda of what they wanted to do on this rare summer visit!
As teenagers, we used to make the 40-minute drive there and spend the day. It had probably been 20 years since I had walked on this sand, and even longer for Judy; the shoreline was a little rockier than I remembered and we’d forgotten the grassy Nantucket-like dunes, but it felt like a vacation. The sun was warm, tempered by a nice breeze, and the waves were impressive!Judy's daughter couldn't believe this was a lake, albeit a Great one!
While there, we three tried to take a few selfies and never laughed so hard; because of our colliding sunhats that someone was always outside the frame!
For Sunday, Chris’ eldest son had his sights set on Cedar Point, one of the largest amusement parks in the world. Yes, this family is always on the go! We declined on that one, for, later that same day, Judy’s other daughter was flying in with her man and their precious babe.
Judy and I picked them up at the airport. They stayed with me, as did Chris and co. And everyone was on hand to welcome them when we got home. Baby Rose didn’t know quite what to make of this HUGE group and chose to jump into cousin Lauren’s arms! We were all so jealous! This was our side of the Atlantic’s first meeting with teh baby, and we weren’t disappointed. It was so much fun to wake up to this irresistible little person every morning!
We all enjoyed discovering her hilarious personality, playing with her, and just watching her amuse herself, walk and talk. I even loved to see her gobble up the steamed vegetables I made for her with love each day. An easy baby, she is bright as a penny, and her energy just blows you away! Her maman and papa are tremendous parents, and so much fun too!
Wendy’s son, Ryan, his wife, Cynthia (the stars of THE Wedding), and their 10-month old darling, Sonya, arrived from Denver, the next day, adding more baby fun to the mix. And the “new parent cousins” loved checking each other out in their new roles. The babies got along just fine!
Tuesday, Chris and family had to head back to Charlotte. A freshman and a senior, the two older kids were off to their different colleges that week, and the youngest was starting high school two days after their return home. So they had a lot to get back to, but their visit was much appreciated, however brief!
Judy and daughter moved from Wendy’s into Chris and family’s former suite at our house, later that day. That way, I got to have them close until their departure.
Since Rose had turned one the day before her trip to Cleveland, I hosted a birthday party in her honor that night. She was showered with beautiful outfits, books and toys. Wendy baked a tower of scrumptious banana cupcakes and we put one little candle on top. Rose devoured/smooshed that one (her first cupcake ever) in seconds and would have gladly had another, had she been permitted. It was quite the celebration!
The following evening, we sisters had a quick dinner at Wendy’s, along with Mom and brother Geoff and then Judy and I left for home to babysit Rose, while Wendy babysat Sonya at her house, and the five cousins all went out for a Mexican dinner downtown. The babies were angels and the five enjoyed their evening…and their tequila cocktails!!
The last to arrive to the “rolling reunion”, on Thursday morning, was my LA son, who took the red eye to spend four days with us. He too had had a birthday the week before, so we decided to have a celebration for him as well. At his request, I served my homemade chili, and baked his favorite white cake with chocolate frosting. He, too, was showered with gifts and the party was a success.
This also was to be the send-off meal for Judy and Chloe, who were flying back to Paris the following day. Their two weeks flew by in the blink of an eye, but left such great memories. How I miss those two!
That same evening I stayed home with Rose, while the rest of the gang went to an Indians game. They chose their night well: the Tribe won (in extra innings), it was “dollar dog night” and there was a fabulous post-game fireworks display, to boot. And Rose was good as gold for me, and I enjoyed our one-on-one time!
Two days and two lovely family dinners later, we said goodbye to my dear Denver nephew, wife and babe, and to my red eye specialist, back on his way to southern California.
And then there were three. We had the last of the French contingent, with bébé, to ourselves for five more days. The little family spent two of those days in Catawba, an island 90 minutes west of Cleveland.
The highlight of that trip was their ferry ride to Put-N-Bay and getting caught in a tremendous thunderstorm on their return trip: slashing sheets of rain striking from every direction and zero visibility, yikes. But they enjoyed the little getaway and baby Rose loved the beach and the lake. Three days later, we bid them farewell and bon voyage.
I really miss their beautiful faces and truly hope that we don’t have to wait too long before we see them again. I am so fortunate to be part of such a loving and lovable family. My 89- year-old mother adored every minute of all the comings and goings, and nightly dinners, but needed a rest from all the socializing at the end of the three weeks. I think we all did!
But I was back in the studio sooner than later, recording songs for my new CD, and rehearsing on the side for Abe LaMarca’s CD release concert on September 18 at the Cleveland’s new Music Box supper club (yay, almost sold-out!). I also got back to my yoga routine.
The summer is over but what a great way to end it, eh? And there is a lot to look forward to in the Fall! Namaste