Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Final Road Trip Re-cap + a tribute to Aunt Dorothy

I just have to take a few final minutes to re-cap something that keeps running through my mind regarding our recent road trip: Exchanging emails and texts and sharing blog posts and Facebook statuses and even Skyping or video-chatting are all such lovely ways of communicating when miles separate us from loved ones. But creating opportunities for gatherings and making the effort to visit face-to-face (even if it means traversing 1000s of miles) reigns supreme!

Nothing beats the real live physical and emotional presence of family and friends.

This concept is even more near and dear to our hearts because:
Less than two weeks after returning home from this trip, we received the tragic news that Aunt Dorothy, the primary organizer of the big Smith family reunion, died suddenly from heat exhaustion while hiking in southern Utah on August 15. She was only 56 and was the first of all 8 of the Smith siblings to return home to greet their parents on the other side despite the fact that she was the second youngest and healthiest one. We are heartbroken for her husband and seven children, one of which is away finishing up his mission in Chile. But, how grateful we are for the opportunity to have seen her and her family--in person--so recently.

The Utah reunion--which greatly influenced the existence of our 2013 Summer Road Trip and all the lovely memories we accumulated because of it--may not have happened if it wasn't for Dorothy. She happily took on the stress of managing all the details so hundreds of family members could enjoy a day together. And now she is gone. I still can't believe it. Her influence will surely be felt for generations.

She left such big shoes to fill in order to plan for the next gathering...but shoes worth filling (it will probably take a few people to fill them) because gathering people together for real life time together is a very worthwhile endeavor.  You just never know when you're going to see them again.

Thank you, Aunt Dorothy, for your example, life, and light!! You are very missed already and will be for years to come. We love you and your family!!

A few final road trip thoughts and memories:

<Seeing pictures of Mount Rushmore or the Hoover Dam or the St. Louis Arch doesn't convey the same emotion or stir the same thoughts as a real life encounter. >

<As we were driving through the mountains, Brent, who normally feels quite determined to get us to our next location in a timely manner, suddenly stopped the van and jumped out to smell the roses for several minutes. He threw a stick upstream and shared his boyhood joy of watching it dance along the water while his children huddled up next to him. Knowing Brent would start a new job and the kids would begin new school years upon returning home from our trip, I sensed the symbolism of this quiet, still moment and felt grateful for the strength and refreshment that such moments give us if we take the time to have them amidst all of our daily and weekly and yearly rushing around. We don't have to take the time for these moments. But I'm always glad when we do.>  

<Without our road trip, when else would MaryAnn get the chance to monkey around on the toddler chair in Nana's kitchen that every other one of her siblings, Smith cousins, her uncles and maybe even her Daddy(??) have already fallen in love with when they were her age? MaryAnn felt very blessed.>

<I wonder how many other lucky dolls got to explore the country this summer...I smiled when I found their church clothes tucked in neatly next to ours the first time I opened the Sunday Bag down in AZ. Everything else they brought along was stashed in their individual doll suitcases. Watching my girls care so completely for their girls was a true treat.>

<We enjoyed Roadside Cereal during our western route to use up the remaining milk that would've spoiled back home in our fridge because we're frugal like dad would be so proud..>

<GG didn't get to see Kenny in person, but because we were with her in AZ and we Skyped with Kenny regularly while he ventured around up in Utah, GG and Kenny connected nonetheless.>

<My older kids took turns leading Christopher around during our journey home. "Seeing" the world through his blind eyes is a very insightful experience and one that truly enlightens us all.>

<And this is my confession of how we actually endured 70 hours on the road with a 2-year-old.>

I will be forever grateful that we took the time, energy, and money to live out of our van for two weeks so we could travel to places we don't see very often, but especially so we could visit with family and friends who mean the world to us, but just live a tad too far for us to cross REAL paths (instead of just virtual paths) often enough. 

1 comment:

Marianne said...

Thank you for this post! It's been 2 1/2 years which means we're half way to the next one. Time to start planning! :-)