Three Weddings and a Funeral

Some of you will remember that fun movie with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, Four Weddings and a Funeral. What I meant to say is that the weddings were fun, but throughout the whole movie, I kept wondering–who was going to die?

The first family wedding we were invited to this year actually took place inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where the Cardinals play baseball. The bride and groom are both (obviously) big Cardinal fans. Ed went to the wedding to represent our family, and he made sure to wear a Cubs tie! I was looking forward to seeing the photos he took on his phone, but the best one was a picture of dinner–a bacon-wrapped hot dog! Fortunately, I’m friends with the bride on Facebook and was able to see some better wedding photos, including the one of the Cardinals’ mascot, Fredbird, dancing with the bride!

The second family wedding was in downtown Chicago at the Drake Hotel, and all four of us were able to attend. Lily and Emmy were so excited to see their cousins and to be included in such a formal occasion! The girls loved the white roses on their plates and the mints in the bathroom. I loved the matchboxes (which sounds weird until you read this post) and the live band. I think this photo sums up the excitement so well:

family wedding

 

And then, at the beginning of October, we had a funeral.

My father-in-law had always been such a healthy, energetic man, and after Ed’s mom died, he really pitched in to help with Lily and Emmy. They adored him. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, he started to slow down. The last couple months of his life were such a struggle–and I am blessed that I was able to help him just a little bit through his cancer treatments. It is never easy to see someone you love die, especially when you are also relieved that all the suffering that cancer brings is over. Grandpa Bill is now at peace with Jesus, and that brings us comfort.

We held a memorial service for Ed’s dad on the first Saturday in October, and then that Sunday, I got a phone call. My 57 year old cousin had suddenly had a massive heart attack and died. I was unable to travel to Arizona for his funeral, although I really wanted to be there.

Grief for my father-in-law and my cousin wore me down, and so the third wedding in the middle of October came as a relief. I was so looking forward to celebrating with the happy couple. And I was also looking forward to spending time with Ed! We headed downtown a little earlier for the reception than we needed to and wandered along the lakefront.

Ed and Ginny

As we were walking to the reception, we stumbled on the Caldwell Lily Pool near the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had never even heard of it before! It was a beautiful place to wander around, especially in the fall. We were soon on our way to the wedding reception, which was also a beautiful event.

Caldwell Lily Pool

So there you have it. Three weddings and a funeral.

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Solo Road Trip: Part Three

When I was growing up, we always celebrated Thanksgiving with my Dad’s family. Now that my cousins and I are older, we’ve taken over hosting Thanksgiving, but with a twist. It’s been hard to get everyone together on Thanksgiving itself, so we have a “Pre-Thanksgiving” celebration. This year my cousin and her husband graciously hosted our family in Midland, Michigan, this past October.

(Read Part One and Part Two)

Midland MI

After our breakfast and during our exploration of Midland, my aunt and I discovered the trail that led to my cousin’s house. It meandered along the river for part of the way, and even though it was overcast, it was a beautiful day. My aunt has always been a walker, but now that she’s 80 years old, she moves a bit slower than she used to. I kept her company and we chatted about books and teaching preschool, while Lily and Emmy went ahead with my dad. When Dad found out that we had about a mile to go, he thought it would be too far, but then he stumbled upon the cemetery that is right next to my cousin’s neighborhood. He and the girls rambled about quite happily, looking at the tombstones.

Fall trees

Towards the end of our walk, it started to sprinkle on us, so we were quite happy to reach our destination. While I started off with another cup of coffee, some time that afternoon my cousin’s husband put a Long Island iced tea in my hand! I wasn’t going to argue with him.

The house itself is beautiful. It’s a big house, with plenty of places to store things. In fact, the house may have too much storage space. My cousin, who is very organized, had bought the perfect paper plates for our Thanksgiving meal. She put them in a very safe place. So safe that she couldn’t find them! I helped her look for a little while, but the iced tea made me quite unambitious. She even sent her daughter’s boyfriend out to buy more plates, when voila! She remembered they were in a salad bowl on top of a dining room cabinet!

The day flew by. I visited with various aunts and uncles and cousins. Lily and Emmy were just beside themselves with joy when their second cousins arrived and the real fun (according to them) could begin. We ate a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. (We almost lost the pies, but I believe they were found in the master bedroom.) We sang, told stories, sat around the fire pit, and played cards.

One of my cousins, telling a family story
One of my cousins, telling a family story

The day had turned dark, and it had been raining on and off ever since we had arrived. When I told the girls it was time to go back the hotel, Emmy looked up at me, a bit worried. “Mommy, I don’t want to walk to the hotel in the dark,” she said, very seriously. I had already arranged for a ride back, and told her not to worry. I didn’t want to walk back to the hotel either!

Our trip to Midland was spontaneous…as spontaneous as I get these days. I had originally decided not to go, since Ed couldn’t go with us. While I wish that Ed had been there too, I was also glad that I had made the trip by myself, with Lily and Emmy. Seeing my family made the solo road trip worth every mile!

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