Meeting the Family…

This past weekend we spent about 22 hours in the car over four days. Why? Well, our siblings were moving from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, and with all the crazy moves we have done in our married life, we owed them one. The plan was to drive from Kentucky to Pittsburgh, from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, then Charlotte to Kentucky again. John was to be the muscles and help with loading and unloading, while I entertained the three kiddos and took Mia around to meet some family members. While it was exhausting, it was SO worth it.

First stop: Morgantown, West Virginia. This is the hometown of John’s father and the Harvey clan. We have always made it a point to stop and see his grandparents every time we drive through, since well before we even got married. John’s grandmother passed away two years ago, making these visits with Grandad even more meaningful for all of us. We know that time does not stand still and we want to make sure to visit as much as we can. It was a thrill to watch Grandad interact with Mia and see her play with all the toys that have become classic family favorites. We ate lunch together at the local Denny’s and then stopped at the family plot where John’s dad, grandmother, and other relatives are buried. We spent a little more time back at his house, and unfortunately had to say good-bye. Mia really enjoyed meeting her Great-Grandad and I was so happy that she could. This man has been a huge influence on John’s life and is a constant source of encouragement to us both. His love for his family and community is never ending. We are so blessed!

Next stop: Pittsburgh. Well, we SAY Pittsburgh, but technically, our family lives north of the city in Beaver County. It was great to see our siblings and nephews again that evening and for Mia to finally meet her Grandad Gary. Time with Memaw and Grandad is always fun, and we were glad to spend two nights with them. I think Mia liked wearing Grandad’s hat!

The next day, John was busy helping his brother load up the moving truck, so I only stopped by for a few minutes for Mia to meet a long-time family friend. Miss Anna has been around a LONG time with us. My mom taught her piano from the time she was a little girl, and now, Anna has been teaching our nephews piano for years. She has an amazing heart and she and her family are just dear friends of ours. It is so wonderful to see my mom’s work carry on through one of her students!!!

After that quick stop, I took the kids across the state line to see my Grandpa in Ohio. He lives at an assisted living facility, where my sister had visited him the day before. She had told him that we were coming and bringing Mia to meet him. It was SUCH a great visit! We had a wonderful time talking about China, the process, and he constantly complimented her and how pretty she is! She played with some stuffed bears with Grandpa and they got along really well. He loved watching all three kids interacting as siblings do, wrestling a little and playing together. These moments are always precious to me. I am sure that it makes my Grandpa a little sad to see us because it reminds him that my parents are gone, but on this day, he was happy. And that makes my heart happy, too.

That evening, we went to my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Pete’s house. My mom was the oldest of four girls, and Aunt Cindy is #3. Her daughter, April, is my best friend and we have done absolutely everything together. In fact, we talked about adopting from China together when we were just little girls. Going to Aunt Cindy’s house is like going home. Mia took to everyone so so well. We played corn hole and demonstrated some exercises the kids like, and just had a great time! My Aunt Carolyn (the youngest sister) joined the party a little later from Cleveland. It was so special to have her drive all that way to see us! Mia honestly acted like she had been part of the family forever. She had no problems playing with everyone and posing for pictures! Any time I can see my aunts is a blessing to me. I am so glad to share my daughter with them and the joy that comes with her.

Saturday was “moving day.” This was the longest driving day, but we made it in 8 hours, even with a couple quick stops. When we arrived in Charlotte, my cousin, Shawna, and her husband, Michael, were there right away to help unload the truck. Their daughter, Madison, is only six months older than Mia and the two girls played like best friends! I was thankful that Maddie is outgoing and went to play with Mia right away. Camden was a great big brother/cousin on the playground, and eventually, we got all the kids together! What a treat! The only family we were missing from this generation of littles is my cousin, April’s. They live in St. Louis with two boys and a little girl. Maybe some day we will get them ALL together!!

The last of my mom’s sisters got to meet Mia Saturday evening. Aunt Jo Ann and Uncle David have lived in Charlotte for many years now, and my sister lived with them during the summers when she was in college. The fact that she has finally moved there is exciting for them all! Aunt Jo Ann is the second oldest after my mom, and the sister who shared a room with her growing up. The two of them were very close. Sunday, before we left to come home, we were able to visit a little more with them.

The drive home was long, but the entire weekend was worth it. I grew up knowing that family is so so important. They give you roots and wings. They are your friends. They know the real you, and love you anyways. My mom’s side of the family has always been close, even through many ups and downs. I am grateful to know and love my cousins and their families. I hope this next generation of kids will have the same opportunities to have that bond. I know we sure do try!

As we were coming home, I was just thinking about what this trip meant to me and started getting emotional. It’s hard to process through the feelings. Our daughter got to meet her FAMILY this weekend. These people who will love her through thick and thin. They will protect her and guide her and keep her on the straight and narrow. I know they have done that for me. I don’t have my parents anymore, but I DO still have family. My three aunts are the closest I will ever get to my mom, and I do not take time with them for granted. They love me and my kids like we are their own. How special it was to see all three of them in the same weekend. When you don’t live in the same states, it makes it really hard to see each other! Whether near or far, there is always love. I am thankful that my children are still recipients of that kind of love, even though their Nana is in heaven. I’m grateful that they can know their history and heritage through their aunts. I am grateful that I grew up in a family who does not see color, but sees the child. What our family passes down is more than nationality. They pass down the love of God and lives of integrity and worship.

No, Momma isn’t here anymore, but pieces of her are all around. I carry her in my heart, and I know that my aunts do, too. I can’t help but praise God for His blessings!!

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