Sara, Maegan, my dad, me and Debbie
Sara & Maegan are twins!
This last Thursday I flew out to Arkansas. My dad flew from Colorado and met me at the airport. We were picked up by my dad's uncle--whom neither of us have ever met before. It felt a bit like those blind date set ups you hear about where the woman wears a red carnation or something else as an identifier. Anyway, I did actually think about not being able to recognize him because I've never met him before and all the photos I have of him are about 40 years old. So, we exchanged cell phone numbers. Would've been more romantic had I worn a flower, but a cell phone will do.
I have to have a side note in this story to say that a mom, such as myself, traveling without her kids is a mom who feels a bit lost. I can't remember the last time I traveled without a child and I really did feel weird and incomplete. I mean I could actually read a book! I didn't have to say, "Stop touching that," or "Here, have gummy bears for lunch," in order to control the masses. I missed my kids terribly. I felt weird without them with me. I can officially say I am a stay at home mom. Now, back to the story.
I called Darrel (my great uncle/my dad's uncle) and we met right at the escalator. He gave me the biggest, tightest bear hug and right away, I knew the trip would be good. He is a very handsome guy--he looks a lot like Colonel Sanders of KFC fame. His hair is the most gorgeous, white hair I think I've ever seen. I was telling his daughter, Debbie, how much I liked his hair and she said, "Oh yes. Dad is a dandy." In other words, he takes great pride in looking well coiffed and handsome. Sorry I am finding myself providing a lot of details here. You've probably all stopped reading by now. Darrel is actually in his pjs here. He didn't know I'd want to take a photo or he'd be looking even better!
Sara, Maegan, my dad, Darrel and Debbie
(Bethany was sadly gone that night.)We chatted the drive back to Searcy and ate dinner together along with his daughter Debbie and Debbie's daughters Sara and Maegan (twins) and her other daughter Bethany. The conversation was nice and introductory. I was surprised to discover that they didn't know any of the story of my dad's birth. My dad's mom, Doris, had never spoken about it at all. Not to her siblings, not to her own mother even. I can't imagine how that affected her for the rest of her life.
I have to also say that when Darrel heard we were coming out he offered to have us stay in his house and drive his car, so that the trip would not be expensive. That is true charity. He didn't know anything about us other than my phone calls and emails and he completely opened up his home to us. He is an amazing man.
The next day my dad and I drove down to Little Rock, so that I could do some family history work on my grandma's lines (this is my mom's mom--I'm not trying to make this confusing I promise). Strangely enough she has several family lines that go back to Arkansas and now my dad's biological lines go back to Arkansas too! I was able to get some information, but unfortunately, the state of Arkansas has lost a lot of records to fires and probably some to tornadoes as well I'd guess.
Another side note--tornadoes touched down five miles away from where I stayed. FIVE MILES! We actually drove through where it landed and I can't put into words how seeing devastation like that in person will shock you. I've seen plenty of post tornado photos on TV and the Internet, but never in person. It's crazy. There will be one house razed to the ground and 10 feet away another house won't have a scratch. Whole trees pulled up by the roots, walls and boards thrown all over and just mass devastation.
The last day we were there I was able to finally meet my great-grandma. Do you realize that if my dad's mom were still living, there would be FIVE generations alive on the earth right now. (Five is apparently a theme here.) Since her son Darrel (my great uncle) is still alive, there really are five generations alive. That never happens anymore.
See how she's holding his hand. She didn't want to let go. It was so touching.
When we walked in to meet her she was so sweet and had us come right over to her and she kissed our cheeks and said how happy she was to finally see us. After I showed her some pictures and video of my kids, I had my dad go sit close to her, so I could get their photo together. She grabbed my dad's hand and didn't want to let go. She said, "I've missed you. I've thought about you again and again through the years."
Debbie, Maegan, Bethany, Darrel, Sara, me and my dad
It was a very wonderful trip. I felt at home with these people. They are wonderful and accepting and so much fun. I want to visit again and continue to nurture this wonderful new family that I have been blessed to find.