When I was little, I was a total mama's girl. And a daddy's girl, too, if I'm being perfectly honest. We lived on an acreage outside of town, and it wasn't like I could just ride my bike down the block and meet some other kids my age... so being around home, around my parents and siblings, was all I really knew.
One summer I went to spend a week with my dad's brother Gene and his family. He and his wife Jeanie have three daughters who are just a little younger than myself and I was really excited to go and play. Until our car was pulling into their driveway and the pit formed in my stomach, and the lump in my throat... homesickness. This wasn't going to be good considering I hadn't even left the car yet.
But if you have to be a homesick kid this was the right house to go to. With three girls in residence there were plenty of toys and their basement was set up like a baby-doll heaven. We played Barbies and school and set up house for our babies. At night when we went to bed, instead of just saying the nighttime prayers I was used to they would say a decade of the rosary. So it was during my sleep over week I learned the fine art of counting on my fingers how many Hail Mary's had been said so I'd know when my turn came if I should start in on a Hail Mary or a Glory Be. Isn't it crazy the things you remember about being little?
Not only did I learn more about the rosary, but my Uncle Gene taught me how to play a mean game of King's Corner and how to shuffle the deck of cards into a bridge. That was a seriously cool trick at the time, let me assure you. I loved how their whole family would sit at the table together after supper and play game after game of cards. Even Theresa, their youngest who is quite a few years younger than me, had already mastered the games and took great delight in the fact that she could give me a pointer or two.
And my Aunt Jeanie was so patient with the homesick little girl that got dropped on her doorstep. One day we were out in the garden picking strawberries and I just couldn't hold it in any longer. Tears were running down my face and I was so embarrassed that I couldn't stop crying. Jeanie came outside and said that I must have gotten too much heat; maybe I should come in from the sun for awhile. So we walked inside and she called my mom for me, and they surprisingly showed up the next day for my trip home.
Gene and Jeanie and their family still give so much kindness to me... they stopped through with my cousin Janet and two of her gorgeous little girls to spend some time with me on their way to a birthday party on Saturday. It was so good to sit and chat with them and be reminded of my time with them all those years ago. I don't know if they even remember the week I was there, but I remember like yesterday... just like I hope my nieces and nephews will remember all of our little excursions and the different ways I've shown my love to them. But I'm learning no matter how young you are or how old you get, the little extra love that's given to you always remains fresh in your memory.