I don't even know where to start. Well, maybe I'll start on Thursday (7-17). The Evil Twin had the day off and we got up early, finished packing our junk and pointed the van Southward at nearly 10AM. We stopped at an Omelet Shoppe (pronounced "Shop-pee" in TET and ETW vernacular) around Beckley and had lunch. Mmmm.
By about 3:30PM, we were at our hotel and all checked in. The hotel was nice and clean.... and close to many restaurants and shops, but we weren't there for those things. We called the Evil Twin's brother and made arrangements to visit their house after dinner.
For dinner, we had Chili's, which was directly in front of our hotel, so we just walked right over. The food was very good - it's a restaurant that we like, but we just rarely get to eat there because the ones we have locally aren't especially convenient for us.
I talked to Nana M (that's going to be my reference to my biological mom....I may just shorten that to Nana eventually), and she had offered to come to our hotel and have lunch the next day instead of us driving another hour South to see her. I thought that was awfully nice and thoughtful.
After dinner, we drove out to the In-laws and spent a few hours there. Their oldest daughter is a year older than Buddy and their youngest daughter is a year older than Sissy, so both sides have two kids with an eight year age span. The kids had a blast playing basketball with the dads and the moms (my beautiful sister-in-law and I) had fun drinking a glass or two of red wine.
We were back at our room late (around 11 pm) and Sissy needed a bath, which she felt was not necessary and she was very vocal about her protest to this indignity. She was just upset about the tub not being "her" own bathtub - remember, this is her first time being away from home that she has a voice in matters.
Getting her to settle down in a regular bed was a challenge, but eventually, she gave up the fight to stay awake and we all snoozed.
A little after 6 AM, we heard a thud and the Evil Twin and I sprang up (from our separate beds - I had the bed with Sissy, he was in the bed with Buddy) and found a most unhappy Sissy in the floor between the beds. She had rolled out and onto the floor. She was not real happy about that, but after a bit, I had her calmed down enough to continue snooze-ville.
Next thing I knew, it was 9AM and I realized I had 2 hours to get ready to see my MOM for the first time in 40 years and I am nowhere near as efficient in a hotel as I am at home, so I started getting really nervous and rushing around!! Imagine - you will meet the person who gave birth to you in two hours for the first time.... you have to look "just so", but then again... it feels as comfortable as the shorts you wear day in and day out.
Nana M and I have spent the last year talking on the phone at least twice a week. And, we've shared many photos. And, we're MySpace Friends (I LOVE that!). She's the bestest! So, I know her general personality and we always have a great time on the phone, so I was hoping that would translate into face to face meeting.
Right on time, at 11AM, there was a knock on our hotel door. There she was - in all her 4 foot 11 glory (she's really tiny - I get my height from her dad (my grandfather)'s side of the family. We hugged and tried not to cry. I think we held it together very well and we sat down to chat for a bit. I introduced her to the Evil Twin, Buddy and Sissy.
Sissy, who is very friendly, just climbed right up into her lap. I got some great pics, but you know I don't show my kids.
However, the Evil Twin did get some pics of Nana M and I together.
As you can see, I'm clearly looking like the biggest dork on Earth and I am also very tall.
Here we are, sitting down, so not so much height disparity:
The hotel was near all manner of restaurants, so we set out to find someplace for lunch.
Since Nana is a vegetarian, I wanted to find a restaurant that was veggie friendly. Having been a vegetarian myself for nine years, I know that is sometimes a tough order to fill. We finally decided on Olive Garden - this is one we all enjoy and I like to go there on Fridays during Lent (I can't eat meat then - so I order cheese ravioli or something with marinara sauce). Plus, the salad and breadsticks are super delicious!
After lunch, we returned to the hotel to chat more. We really talked about the things we normally talk about on the phone, but it was so wonderful to just be able to be close to her. The bond was strong.... even after a 40 year gap.
Everything was perfect, but the time came that she had to return home and attend her temple service (she's Jewish). I later received an email from her saying she was only a little late to the service and everyone, even the Rabbi, was so pleased she was able to see me and spend time with us for the day.
As she drove off, the tears welled up in my eyes. 40 years of wondering and wishing and we finally, FINALLY, had an opportunity to see one another in person and she had to go... I knew it had to come around, the time to say goodbye, but it broke my heart all the same.
We're not separated by impossibly long drives or many miles, so I know there will be other visits in the future. The only thing that could have made the day any better is if my biological sister, Jellybean, would have been able to join us. Her husband couldn't get off work for the day and she doesn't drive, so that meeting will have to take place another moment in time.
Saturday morning came around and we prepared to check out of the hotel. We had made arrangements to meet TET's brother, his wife and our nieces for lunch at a restaurant directly across the road from our hotel. Lunch was fabulous, as was the company - I wished we lived closer to them and Nana M. Maybe someday, huh?
We headed back Northbound around 12:15 and arrived at our driveway 5 hours later, which is an amazingly fast trip. Traffic stunk and all, but we still made excellent time.
It's nice to be home and to have slept in our own beds last night. The Evil Twin keeps joking that we probably got scabies from the hotel mattresses (he's joking! We stayed at a very nice Hilton Garden Inn). I think we just got bitten by mosquitos while we were outdoors at my brother-in-laws house (they live in a very woodsy area). Seeing as how I grew up in the South and I am used to being eaten alive by mosquitos, I know that I will live! LOL.
The trip - at least the visiting family part - was excellent. The drive? Not so great, but you do what you gotta do.
I feel so very fortunate to be one of the few adopted children to be able to reunite with a biological parent and have that reunion be so very wanted on both sides. Thumbs up!