Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
This past week Winnie and I made a trip to Rhode Island to visit family. It was notable for several reasons; it was the first overnight trip we’ve had since this Zombie Apocalypse started in March 2020. The occasion was the 75th birthday of one of my cousins still living in New England, and lots of other family came in to celebrate.
So we had several days of hanging around family and visiting in New England in November. It turned out to be a nice visit.
My cousin Richard contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know he was gong to have a big 75th birthday party, planned for November 21. His younger brother Paul and older sister Pauline were planning on flying in for the event. I told him, on the spot, that I would plan on being there.
Winnie was a bit hesitant about traveling and being in a big crowd, but later agreed. With wanting to visit some other cousins, we planned on spending three days plus a day each way for driving. Early last Saturday morning, November 20, Winnie and I finished loading up the Jeep and headed north.
Richard lives in Millville, Massachusetts, just over the state line from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. We made decent travel time and finished the drive in nine and-a-half hours. We took our regular route of going through Scranton, Pennsylvania, over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, and back down to Millville, Massachusetts. As much as I love New York City – I don’t want to drive through on I-95. It was an uneventful drive and we arrived late afternoon as planned.
This was literally the first time either Winnie or I were further north that Washington, D.C., in almost two years. Given the life we were leading before – me with regular business trips and annual vacations for Winnie and me – this drive was already a return to “normalcy” just by passing DC.
Pauline has lived in California, near Sacramento, for decades now. She’s the oldest in our generation of Charest’s, and we don’t get to visit often. Paul is just a few months younger than me and now lives in Florida. Seeing both of them together was a real treat all by itself.
We had a pleasant Saturday evening catching up on events. Richard had moved to a new home since we last visited so we had the grand tour. Richard has been a contractor and developer for most of his life. He has built the last three homes he lived in (plus a number of other custom-built homes for clients), and his experience certainly showed in his newest project.
Richard’s long-time girlfriend Judy had arranged the party and performed most of the planning. She had RSVPs from about 60 people, so expected that the house, as large as it is, was going to be packed. Friends of Richard and Judy were acting as caterers and arrived early to help setup.
Already, there were about five large tables setup in the downstairs game room. We added four more tables in the main floor living room, just to be sure we had enough seating.
Decorations were mostly black, as appropriate for a 75th birthday celebration. Guests started arriving about 1:00 and the party kicked off.
Guests quickly filled the downstairs guestroom. Richard had an open bar (yes) and plenty of excellent food to go around.
And what is a birthday party without a cake? I observed that we had to use candles with numbers, instead of a candle. for every year Richard was old on account that many candles would set off the smoke alarms.
I did meet up with cousins I hadn’t seen in several years. The best part of this gathering is that it was for a happy occasion. Instead of the too-frequent funerals we only seem to get together for these past years.
The party broke up about 6:00PM and we soon had the entire house to ourselves. We packed up the folding tables and cleared the party room, revealing that the food table was really Richard’s prized pool table. Richard explained it was about 60 years old and he’d recently had it restored. We spent the rest of the evening drinking the remaining beers (couldn’t allow them to go to waste) and shooting pool. I hadn’t touched a pool cue in at least 20 years, but still managed to win a game – when my opponent scratched on the eight ball. A win is still a win…
Rest of the Week
We spent Monday and Tuesday visiting family in the area. Winnie and I had lunch with our cousin Roger on Monday, and Tuesday we had a nice dinner with several cousins including Denise, Jeanne, Paul, Denise’s wife Sandy, and Denise’s son Todd. This was my first time meeting Todd. In between family visits Winnie and I toured Woonsocket and even did our Thanksgiving food shopping.
We headed back home Wednesday morning, and fortunately managed to miss most bad traffic. We still took our time and made it back home after a twelve-hour trip. The days when I could drive six hours without stopping are long gone. I now stop every two hours or so to stretch and rest my eyes. Our one concession to speed (and the still-remaining coronavirus) is that we bought lunch at drive-thru restaurants and ate in the car.
So it was a nice week visiting with family. I think we all agreed that we need to visit like this more often.