Winnie and I successfully completed a week’s worth of traveling, visiting family, and sight seeing. We returned home late Saturday evening, July 7, after a 13 hour trip from Massachusetts. It was a really nice week, but also more tiring than I expected. It’s taken until now for me to feel rested again, ready to get back into the old routine.
Or perhaps, it’s really that I haven’t wanted to get back into the old routine again…
Lilly and Winnie were very close back in Nanning. Lilly met her future American husband shortly after Winnie and I met, but Lilly didn’t have the same problems with her K1 visa. She left China shortly after Winnie did, and married in Pennsylvania where she still resides with her husband and new-born baby.
The family lives in a log cabin that her husband rebuilt from a pre-1826 structure, starting in 1975. He dismantled th log cabin portion of the old house, moved the timbers to the present location, and rebuilt it with some modern plumbing, wiring, windows and flooring. It’s a pretty interesting house, and I was really impressed with how he engineered everything.
The area itself is pretty rural, even though it’s only a few minutes off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Lilly’s husband works as a union steam fitter and gets to move around the area on different projects. Lilly now stays home tending her baby. It’s her first, but her husband has an son in his early 20’s from his first marriage. Makes for an interesting age gap between brothers.
We visited several hours, then were treated us to lunch at a nearby “Chinese” Buffet. About 3:30 we parted and continued our drive up to Mom’s house. We arrived about 7:30 after several hours pleasant driving.
We settled in at Mom’s house and made some loose plans for the next few days. After a bit of discussion over Mom’s excellent dinner we agreed to visit Middletown the next day, then Tuesday head down to Long Island. Wednesday was the 4th and a day to hang around the house, and Thursday we planned to head over to Massachusetts and Rhode Island to visit with Dad’s side of the family.
Monday’s trip to Middletown was relaxing. We shopped in Middletown, then went over to a local sewing machine center. Winnie ended up with a new sewing machine and an hour’s worth of lessons from the owner.
Tuesday we headed down to Long Island to make a visit to several gravesides and one of our aunts still living there. Mom can no longer deal with the heavy traffic across the George Washington bridge and New York City, so never travels to Long Island by herself. For myself, I thought the traffic on a mid-morning work day was no worse than the daily grind between our house and work. Whatever, it wasn’t a bad drive and the first time I’d made the trip since about 1993.
We drove through the town of Farmingdale where I grew up; past the house we once lived in, my schools, and “The Village.” I hadn’t really been through there since we moved away in 1972, and felt very happy to see how well the old neighborhoods had been maintained. (I’m planning on writing a full-length feature on this trip to Farmingdale in the near future.)
We next headed over to the Cemeteries to pay our respects; First to my grandparents in Pinelawn National cemetery, then to an uncle, Uncle Al, also buried there. Then over to another aunt, uncle and cousin in the nearby Catholic cemetery of St Charles. After a little more sightseeing through Farmingdale we headed to Brentwood to visit with our Aunt Joan.
Aunt Joan is widowed; we visited the graveside of her late husband, our Uncle Al, at Pinelawn. Uncle Al was one of Mom’s close friends growing up and over the years our families always stayed close. Uncle Al passed on eleven years ago and Aunt Joan moved into a senior housing center. She is one of two of Mom’s close childhood friends still living on the ‘Island. The other, our Aunt Marie, was in Germany visiting with her family so we missed seeing her.
We had a nice dinner with Aunt Joan, drove around Brentwood a bit, then headed back home. I did make a stop along the Palisades Parkway, at one of the overlooks, to enjoy the Hudson river. I had hoped to visit one of the beaches or parks while we were on the ‘Island, but there really wasn’t enough time. I’m hoping to have a future opportunity to take Winnie back there when we have more time for sight-seeing. I realized during this visit just how much “at home” I felt there even after 35 years away.
Wednesday was the 4th of July holiday. We made another quick shopping trip, then back home where Mom made us a nice dinner. It started raining hard late Wednesday afternoon and continued into the evening so fireworks were pretty much washed out. I made a few phone calls to friends, and we just spent the evening watching TV and hanging out around the house.
Thursday morning we had an early breakfast with Mom, then Mom headed out to her job. Winnie and I packed up and left later in the morning. We made a quick stop in Middletown to say goodbye to Mom at work, then headed out for New England.
We had made plans to spend two nights with Aunt Terry, one of my late dad’s older sisters, and her family in Massachusetts. Aunt Terry in turn had our relatives there know we were coming and helped arrange lunches and dinners with as many as could be arranged. It was to be Winnie’s first time meeting with everyone there. For myself, it had been as long as 35 years since I last saw some of my cousins.