So exciting! It's all set for next week!
I spent the better part of the day working on it. Dad had talked to his cousin J. and told him I'd be calling him to set some dates, becus we're both worried that if we don't have our get-together soon, before the snow flies, we'll have to wait til spring to see everyone.
Dad and I will be doing the longest drive by far, at about 4 hours down, spending one night and then heading back the next morning. I can't stay longer becus Waldo needs his twice-a-day meds and traveling with him would be out of the question.
I wanted to find a place to stay, and a restaurant for dinner, that was sort of midway between where J. lives in the York, PA area and where K.& R. live north of Philly. I was also hoping that by settling on the Lancaster area, it would shave off about 40 minutes from our drive if J. was willing to travel that distance to meet us for dinner.
He was, but he mentioned his night vision wasn't great (everyone but me in this group is in their 70s or 80s!), so then I realized that one of the places I was looking at for accommodations would allow him to spend the night with us for just $15 more dollars.
Of the places to spend the night that I looked at, the low end was about $80 and was mostly motels that got mixed reviews about cleanliness, and on the higher end was 5 or 6 story new huge mega hotels going for about $130 and up.
Then I found a private family farm in Manheim (200 years old, with 70 acres) with a freestanding small guest house with 2 bedrooms upstairs for me and dad so we could have our privacy but still be near each other.
The cost of $135 is actually cheaper than what we'd pay for a low end motel. Downstairs is a living room and kitchen, and the living room has a sofa bed, so I suggested to J. that for just $15 he could spend the night with us so he wouldn't have to worry about driving home in the dark and there'd also be plenty more time for us all to catch up, relax, have a glass of wine, etc. He liked the idea and plans on doing that.
The 2nd cousin is coming with her husband; we have never met them. She was the daughter of my grandmother's sister who was given up for adoption in 1945 and no one ever knew about her until I found her on ancestry. So she and J. are half-siblings. He didn't have any others. Wow, wow, wow.
I'm not sure if they will plan on meeting us and then returning home or possibly might spend the night somewhere nearby as well, but I don't think there's room for them at our guest house.
This all just came together today. I sent out an email in the form of an invitation to the "1st Annual Family Reunion of xxxx/xxx/xxx with all the details.
I told everyone to bring their cameras, any old photos they might like to share, and their favorite drinks. I will try to think of some snacks to bring for us as well since we will have full use of the kitchen.
So it'll just be 5 of us, or possibly 7 if the 2nd cousin's daughter (who is also a cousin) and her husband wants to join us, but i think it doubtful since she works and won't likely want to have a late night out on a work night. Unless she took the next day off. She was the one i initially traded emails with on ancestry.com because she managed the account for her mother. I think she's in her 40s.
I have some trepidation about the 4-hour drive twice in 2 days, especially as I prefer to do the driving due to my dad's vision issues. So I know it will be tiring but it will be so worth it. If i get tired later into the evening, this set-up is good becus i can just go to bed upstairs and the others can continue chit chatting if they want to.
I've never done anything like this before and it should be very interesting. I don't know if this will be a one-time event, that either through later disinterest or perhaps someone's illness, this is the one and only time we'll get to do this. Or maybe our relationships will deepen and we'll continue to include each other in our lives moving forward. Life's a journey, and it's sometimes fun to take paths not knowing where they'll lead.
I already know J. has a sad story about much of his life. He was married for 30 years to a woman, he told dad, who was a drug and alcohol addict. She died about 5 years ago, and he had told my dad it was a good thing because things had gotten so bad he had actually begun to consider killing her, and then himself. He has daughters, so maybe that's the reason he didn't divorce her.
I felt such a need to forge new family connections after my mother died, and probably also because my only sibling, who I'd never been very close to, showed me I couldn't count on her when the going got tough, during my mother's illness.
My mother's death taught me that life is indeed short. My dad and I were mulling over how our little family lost touch with our extended family, like probably many families do, due to getting preoccupied with the day-to-day tasks of earning a living and raising families, or simply moving out of the area. Certainly, in our case, an early divorce didn't help.
We all have largely public lives where we rub shoulders with dozens and dozens of people every week, but aside from our own immediately families, all the people we meet are largely acquaintances or even strangers. To find a few new people whom you can say are actually "family" is a very special thing indeed.
Is there anything else you think I should bring?
I planned a family reunion
So exciting! It's all set for next week!