I have been away--on Saturday, we made a quick trip to Memphis, and we returned last night. I kept it all quiet, in part because I try not to advertise when we're going to be away and in part, because the reason for our trip was a surprise.
Months ago, we started planning a surprise party for my father-in-law, who turns 80 years old today. We knew that what he'd really like would be to have as much of the family together as possible. So, those of us who live out of town committed to a Saturday surprise party. I wasn't convinced we could keep the surprise, but we did.
On Saturday, we hopped on a plane and had 2 smooth flights to Memphis: our first plane only had 72 people on it, which was great, and we snagged the exit row seats, with their luxurious leg room, for our second leg of the trip. We got to the Memphis airport, and my brother-in-law was there to pick us up; his family had spent the previous day and night driving from Homestead, and we had just flown in from Ft. Lauderdale. He has more vacation time accrued than we do; we had to be back in time for work today.
Can I just mention how sad the Memphis airport seemed? Maybe we were in a less-busy wing, but it was quite deserted, with none of the hustle and bustle of past years. I later learned that many airlines have pulled out of that airport completely, for the usual variety of reasons, mainly high cost to maintain a hub there.
The family planned to have the party in the church fellowship hall, which meant that more people could come. So, the first surprise for my father-in-law was the assembly of church people for a surprise party--and then about 7 minutes later, the extended family entered singing "Happy Birthday to You." It was wonderful how it all came together.
We spent several hours eating wonderful barbecue and catching up--and that sums up the rest of the week-end too. It was great to catch up with so many family members whom we don't see very often. I had time to get some sewing done, as I sat and socialized--my autumnal placemats are ready for quilting! I had time for reading--more about that in a post all of its own. It was a treat to have time in the countryside that surrounds Memphis, where my in-laws live.
I'm glad we were all able to get away to make this happen--we were only missing one family member from the immediate family (by which I mean my father-in-law's children and their children and his wife, of course). I know that we won't be able to do this too often--and how wonderful to gather for a happy occasion. In the years to come, I suspect we'll do more gathering for funerals than for birthdays.
But let me not think about the coming sadness. Let me take another day to savor the successes of the past week. Let this day be a day of continuing gratitude.
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