I had just commanded "Eyes well open!" and Gwen complied. She doesn't look that demented in real life. And I look more focussed.
I said to Gwen, “Sandy bought me a Christmas ornament on my birthday every year. Tomorrow’s her birthday, so I’m going to buy myself an ornament...I’m thinking of one of those Starbucks ones because she had one on her tree.” The next day, Sandy’s 47th birthday, Gwen went to get a few groceries in the morning, and came back with a little paper bag. In it was a card telling me she loved me, and a little red and white china Starbucks cup with a gold ribbon. I cried and cried, and she cried, and we hugged.
She made Sandy a birthday cake – Black Forest, from scratch. With yummy brandied cherries she canned herself, and real homemade buttercream. We sang “Happy Birthday to Sandy” with huge smiles, huge voices, like she could hear us. (She could.)
The kids played Twister, and laughed and fell on the floor. I finished knitting my legwarmers and wore them around, every day, with the yarn ends still hanging off. Gwen cooked Ethiopian and I ate so much I felt faintly sick.
I vacuumed. (I love vacuuming.)
On the last day, we looked fondly at each other, misty-eyed, and agreed that it was the best visit ever, and nobody wanted us to go home. Not me, not Gwen, not my brother-in-law, not the children (who have never gotten along as well as they did these two weeks), not even the niece who gave up her room for us.
I have a lot to say about the ferry journey, but that’s for a different day. For today, I’ll close by saying this.
There’s nothing like family, and there’s nothing like friends.
There’s nothing like friends IN your family.
You know that saying: “home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”? Well, “have to”, nothing. We want to.
And that’s a huge blessing, and a precious gift.