Growing Up Together {Spin Cycle}

I like to tell people that I grew up with my cousins, but that’s not necessarily true. The ministry had scattered the family on my dad’s side all over the country; from Alaska to Ohio. I never knew my dad’s parents, in person anyway. They died before I was born, but they live on in stories told frequently by my dad and his brothers and sisters. Despite death and distance, the sisters and brothers remained close. Our families met, when we could, twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at The Lake.

Our family took  a week-long vacation at a lake every the summer. The Lake changed from time to time; we started renting cottages at Lake Huron, then one summer rented at Duck Lake (yucky, only lasted one year), Lake Hemlock (a camp, which was cool because the cousins stayed in our own “chalets”), and now, a large house on Lake Michigan. I’m using the term “growing up together” loosely because we didn’t live around the block from each other, much less the same town. As cousins, we loosely grouped ourselves into age groups. We had an older group that all of us younger cousins loved hanging out with, but as you can imagine, the older cousins did their own things away from the younger cousins. Occasionally we would do things together, such as act out plays for our parents or walk to the gas station to buy candy. And cards. We loved to play cards. Our cousin Mark taught us the finer points of the game 500, such as going in the hole just to keep the other pair from getting the bid. (His brother plays the same way.) Mark drove us to the movies. (Spaceballs one summer.) He played the game of Risk with his brother and teased his little sister unmercifully.

Mark
Playing 500 (Mark is on the left.)

As we became adults, the age groups dissipated. Jobs and families scattered us apart, from California to the United Kingdom, but we still kept up with each other. Out of all the cousins, we probably prayed for Mark the most. He was a West Point graduate, and the Army sent him all over the world. We prayed for Mark to safely come back home, and he always did. But then Mark was attacked by an enemy that we didn’t expect. Cancer.  We all prayed even harder for Mark and his wife Kathy, and it looked like he was winning the war.

When the email came from my cousin that Mark had died, I didn’t quite believe it. I had to call my dad just to confirm the news. It was a quite a shock to us all.

The last time I saw Mark was at my mother’s funeral. He was in uniform; probably the only time I’d ever seen him in uniform. We usually saw Mark on vacation; out of uniform. My cousins and I were so lucky to grow up with Mark. He was well loved, and he will be missed. Especially when there’s a good card game going on.

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)
Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

 


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Kicking Off!

It’s the first full week of summer! Lily and Emmy have been out of school for almost three weeks now, and we’re slowly adjust to summer’s routine. I should write “lack of routine,” which is both freeing and horrible at the same time. We can sleep late, there’s no homework, and we can watch TV in the middle of the day. And we can also lie on the floor moaning about how bored we are and how no one will play with me, watch TV until we’re zombies and then not want to go to sleep at night because we’re not tired, and whine at the grocery store even though the cupboard are completely bare at home.

Yes, summer’s wonderful!

Our summer routine includes:

1. Swim Team for Lily. She has two hour practices every day, which wore her out at first. She’s becoming a stronger swimmer and has been working on diving off the block and flip turns. She was really looking forward to her first swim meet last week. Unfortunately, dark clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped into the 50’s, so it was cancelled. We were looking forward to her second swim meet on Wednesday…and then dark clouds rolled in and the Thor guard went off, and it was postponed. Ah, summer in the Midwest! Finally yesterday, Lily was able to swim in her first swim meet!

Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.
Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.

She was so nervous, but she did fine! It was a home meet, and the coaches asked for parent volunteers to time the swimmers. I’ve never done it before…but I volunteered anyway. I figured if Lily was brave enough to do something new that made her nervous, I’d go ahead and do the same thing! It turned out to be an easy job, and I was able to meet one of the other swim team moms.

2. Vacation Bible School was this week! This was the first year I was not the VBS director, and I have to admit it was a welcome change. I can’t stay away from VBS, though, and I was the Bible Story Teller. When I started helping with VBS, I was pregnant with Emmy. Now both my girls are in the oldest groups for VBS! How did that happen?

Emmy VBS
Emmy came down with “leprosy” during VBS.

3. Daily Visits to a Playground: This was one of my goals for the summer, and while weather and schedules have interfered somewhat, we’ve gone to the park a lot! We’ve also been trying to eat plenty of ice cream to make sure we have energy to go to the park.

How are you kicking off your summer? Link up your summer posts here or tell us in the comments!


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