Baby K Maternity

Baby K Maternity

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Harriet's Reunion

Psalm 103:17
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children
This is where it all began. Great Grandma Harriet, Aunt Merilee, and Grandma Glenda. Your Great Grandpa Woody helped too, but that's for another time. After Grandpa Gary's accident Great Grandma Harriet made a special request that we all do something together, as a family, during the coming summer. What a wonderful idea it was, and Uncle Buzz and Grandma Glenda jumped right to the task of planning a glorious family reunion in our Smokey Mountains. They found a great cabin in Maggie Valley to hold all 16 of us, and all we had to do was create the lasting memories. Boy did we!!
 This was our first day of hiking, we went up to an Elk preserve and walked along a beautiful stream. If you look at this picture you will see Uncle Buzz, Papa, Grandma, Uncle Casey, Cousin Boomer, you and Daddy, Cousin Zack, Mommy, Cousin Megan, Aunt Merilee, Cousin Lindsey and Aunt Kaitlyn. You started the hike asleep on daddy, and when you did "hike" you took a little tumble in your excitement. You are all boy! We did see one elk, and even spotted some gnats! Ha! It was the perfect way to all reconnect and catch up!

 Our little family of course had to go to Dollywood. It is a long standing part of our normal North Carolina trips and it would have been a shame to miss it. You loved being able to drive your own vintage car with daddy as your passenger. They propped you up on a booster seat, and the look on your face was priceless. You even got to go on a few rides all by yourself for the first time! You did great! We can't forget the old time pictures we took! You were so handsome dressed as a soldier!

We finished our day on the Choo-Choo, and you couldn't have been any more thrilled. Uncle Casey got a special treat when we stopped at the Titanic Museum on the way home. Everyone was happy!!
 Uncle Buzz worked very hard to give us a special surprise for this trip. He created custom t-shirts for us to wear to remember our special time together. Though a few of us thought the surprise was Cousin Megan giving you a second cousin to play with, we thought the shirts were great! We were even able to set up an opportunity to take family pictures at a special spot at the cabin. The view was great, and it reminded me of where we would take pictures at your Great Great Grandma Grace's house in Boone. I know we will cherish these pictures for years to come, thank goodness for a timer and fast running!

 This is the special bond a family creates with love, support, respect, and care. We are lucky to be close though we live so far apart from one another!

 Cabin living offered us many opportunities to do fire pits and make s'mores. Of course we introduced them to smoreos which we made last year out of necessity at Grandpa Gary's cabin, and it's always a sweet memory when we enjoy them.

 The cousins were able to enjoy a day of horseback riding up to a 1,000 foot elevation that overlooked the valley. The ride was excellent, we cantered 3 times, stopped and picked blackberries, and even dismounted at the top to enjoy the spectacular view! Yes we may have had to crawl under a barbed wire fence and walk into a cow pasture, but come on, the cows shouldn't be the only ones to appreciate the view!
 The bear picture started much before I can even remember. On our trips into Cherokee, this particular bear used to live on the side of a store wedged onto the mountain. They used to sit us up on top of it and year after year we would go back and take the same picture. One year it wasn't there, and we went on a search and found it now belonged to a hotel that had it posted out by it's pool. Uncle Casey and I always felt foolish walking past the swimmers to go and take our picture, but Grandpa Gary always insisted, and we went along with it for his benefit. Then one year it moved again! Grandpa Gary was on a mission to find it, and learned it was now at the hotel's second location near the new casino. So we located it and for the past few years the annual picture was at this spot. I remember as a teenager dreading this picture, and now with dad not here to prompt us it became our mission to fulfill this year's slot. There is one precious year with Grandpa Gary and you in the picture with the bear, but I hope there are many more years in store with this special shot.

 One of our many game nights! If we weren't playing ultimate uno, we were playing phase 10 or spoons. The laughter, yells, and whoops probably could have been heard down the mountain, but we were having fun! It became something we looked forward to every night. Sure, we had cable, but the TV wasn't on for this, it's called quality time!
 Our second day of hiking took us to the top of Waterrock Nob, which is the second highest point you can climb to on the Blue Ridge, and Soco Falls. The climb to the top was intense and it seemed to me straight up! It was a little hot, and you and daddy were strapped to each other making it even hotter for the two of you. The Bakewell girls were champs and made it first, and it brought to mind how fit this whole family is. I love that!

 Our last day at the cabin wasn't just hard in having to say goodbye but it also signified the day we would go to Grandpa Gary's cabin. I will not say it was easy. There were many tears shed that day by all of us. The dishes left in the drying rack ready to be put away. The clean laundry waiting to be folded. I half expected him to come walking in with his great laugh and smile and scoop us up into a hug. The cabin looked as if he just went out for a walk and was coming back. This was just a short visit, and I  know it will be a big task to start to clean it up and put things where they really go. But the bandaid was ripped off fast and I was able to go back for the first time with my loved ones there with me.

 On our way out of Cashiers we made one final stop to go see Silver Run, which is one last thing we did with Grandpa Gary last year. Going to these places for the first time was hard, but the way we did it, with the support of each other, made it special and manageable.

While at the cabin we found a drawer full of mementos that Grandpa Gary had kept over the years. He saved every Father's Day card, every letter, even Commencement programs from Tim, Casey, and my graduations. That broke us all down. To see the care he took in keeping those items puts things into perspective. It is a shame when you have one family that purposefully hurts their children, and another that takes great care in making them feel special and loved. I will never understand why things happened the way they did, but I know I have a Heavenly Father that is in control and has a plan. We had a wonderful vacation in the Smokies with a terrific family that loves one another. Connor learned so many things while we were all together, and is even repeating the ABC's now! Yes, there are always flaws, but isn't that what stories are made of? We are truly blessed!

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