It was a pretty busy weekend here in these old Pennsylvania Hills! No, I didn't have any more "fun" rides in the back of an ambulance (thank goodness) but it was a really good weekend overall.
Saturday afternoon I spent at our church, helping the women's group from church serve at a Golden Wedding Celebration for a couple from our parish -Tom and Marlene Kirk. Marlene grew up down the street from me and Tom is from a nearby little village -Kylertown -but they now have a gorgeous (and huge too) new home up on top of the hill, across the road from the Lutheran Church Cemetery.
It was fun helping out to keep the food table stocked up and all but even more fun for me was seeing people I hadn't seen in ages -like Russ Hummel -whose wife I met when I first moved back to Pennsylvania and she was working then at the local state employment office. Thanks to Pauline's help back then, I was able to better cope or contend with some of the contemptible employees in that office who seemed to like nothing better than to bedevil those of us who were signing up then for unemployment benefits. It was through that chance meeting there that led to general conversation between Pauline and myself that I learned she and her husband were best of friends with my late cousin, Jay and his ex-wife, Janice! Fast forward a bit to the 80s when I was waitressing at the truckstop in Snow Shoe and Russ and Pauline would often stop in for supper on my shift so I got to know both of them that way. Unfortunately, Pauline was unable to attend yesterday as she was recovering from a go-round of pneumonia. Hope she's soon up and around, feeling much, much better!
I got to meet a distant cousin of mine too -who happens to be married to a sister of Tom -one half of the anniversary celebrants. This cousin lived in Morrisdale -across the road from my Dad's family homestead -but was enough older than me that I never really knew him. I did however, along with my cousin Ruth Ann, often play with his younger brother, David, when I would go up to spend a day or so at my Dad's family home with my Uncle Arch and his family and my Aunt Mike. I haven't seen David Swales in absolutely eons and eons -at least 50 years, if not more -and had no idea where he is these days so I introduced myself to his older brother, Matt, explained who I am (that we are distant cousins, etc.) and learned that David now lives in Manassas, VA! Maybe the next time Mandy and the kids and I venture south to visit with my cousin Bea and her Mom in Burke, Va, I'll remember this and see if I can perhaps give David a call and see if he even remembers me from those playtimes a long, long time ago!
One other nice thing -for me -yesterday was having a chance to see an old, old friend from my school days -Gracie Coble! Gracie was a year ahead of me in school and all through high school, she had dated Billy Gurbal, Marlene's oldest younger brother. Bill was also a year older than me and since the family lived four doors down the street from us, I had grown up with Bill. Heck of nice guy he was too. Anyway, Gracie and Bill had married, had a son (Brock) and when Brock was about three months old, Bill died as a result of an automobile accident. I've seen Gracie on a few occasions over the years since Bill's death but the last time I saw her was 2 or maybe 3 years ago over Labor Day weekend, when she was here for the big old Cooper Picnic -an annual affair of St. Severin's Catholic Church out in Drifting. Gracie had remarried a few years after Bill died and had two sons to her second husband but is now, once again, a widow. She's still the same as ever though -like Bill was -Gracie is pure and simple, just very good people as that expression goes.
But the event that I think really topped everything for me yesterday was when I was talking out in the hallway at church to a lady who, for some reason or other just looked familiar to me (but really, she wasn't) but anyway, in talking with her, I asked her where she was from. She said she is from Greensburg, PA now but that she had grown up in Monroeville, PA.
Judging by her appearance I figured she was probably about the age of at least one of my cousins who also had grown up in Monroeville back in the early 50s. But in further conversation along that line, she didn't recall ever knowing anyone from there with the surname of Eld -my Mom's family line, ya know. But she started to rattle off some streets in Monroeville where she had lived and one of them was Beatty Road. I mentioned that my oldest cousin and her husband had owned a home on Beatty Road back in the 60s so she asked what their names are and I told her -Howard and Nancy Lang.
To my surprise, she then said "Oh, I graduated from high school with Howard Lang!"
Really! I couldn't believe this at first so I began to describe a bit about Howard to ascertain we were on the same page, talking about the same person -and decided that yes, we were both talking about my cousin Nancy's husband, Howard, all right!
Talk about a small world, huh? What are the odds that I would meet someone at an anniverary party at our church, out here in the middle of nowhere, who had graduated from high school with a guy my cousin married?
When I came home, I hope you know I had to call my cousin Nancy and tell her and Howard about having met this lady! They were as amazed by this as I was! And I was really glad I had called and talked to them too as it enabled me to get a bit caught up on the things in their life, their children, grandchildren, Nancy's siblings as well and to share other family news with them at the same time too.
Sunday morning, Mandy and I managed to get up early enough to be able to get ready and make it out to church -which some Sundays is almost next to impossible for us to just get up in time to do that and it seems too that any time I have any kind of problems -my body/system being uncooperative with me -it always seems to take place on Sunday! But this marked two Sundays in a row that we were able to get to church together -and hey, the roof on the church didn't fall in either -so I guess it's safe to try to make it three in a row then next week, isn't it?
After church, I had to drop Mandy off down in Winburne, at Jackson's Bar (where she works) as today, they were having their annual "Walk for Wishes" event -a fund-raiser the bar sponsors to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. Mandy was taking part in the walk -a whopping five-mile walk to boot -and she had raised $100 from the individuals who were supporting her. She said when she got home that the walkers raised over $2,000 today from the walk.
You know, I have to say this too now but I am really very proud of this little bar and their support of the Make A Wish Foundation. The management there -yes, you Deb -and the crew, really do push the fund raising activities as much as is humanly possible and the bar patrons really do come through and in a big way too, to support these things and then, through that, the Make A Wish Foundation! Last year, the bar's efforts netted a $15,000 contribution to the Foundation and I think that is absolutely fantastic -also really incredible -that a little bar in a little itty-bitty back-in-the-boondocks tavern can draw that much support from their clientele to be able to give a donation that size to this very worthy cause!
Gotta definitely give a big, big "Thumbs Up" to Deb and the crew at Jackson's Bar!
After that, I stopped to visit briefly with my son and from there, on to the local grocery store to pick up a few things I needed for supper today and also, of course, to get the Sunday paper -mainly so I would have the Sunday crossword puzzle to play with then at some point today!
Came home and fixed macaroni salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, a jello fruit salad, baked brownies and also, an angel food cake and sliced fresh strawberries so we could have angel food strawberry shortcake for our dessert after dinner today. Did up the hamburger patties too so when the son-in-law got home from fixing the gas tank on Mandy's car (FINALLY -got that fixed) that all would be ready then for him to take over and grill the burgers and hot dogs.
My older daughter (Carrie), her fiance (Robert) and my older grandson -my "prince" Alex -were coming up for supper and my son (Clayton), his girlfriend (Betty) and her daughter were also coming here for supper plus the step-granddaughter (Katie) and her boyfriend (Simon) as well as the step-grandson (Shane) were all here too! So we had quite a crowd for supper this evening. All went quite well there -plenty of food with not a ton of leftovers -my kind of meal that is! Plus we had a whole lot of fun too -a good time for sure! (And, surprisingly enough, not much in the way of sibling squabbling between Maya and Kurtis either which really was VERY nice and made things even more enjoyable.)
One thing though that was quite comical was when Shane came out to me in the kitchen and was holding in his hand a piece of cooked meat.
"Here," he said, "I found this piece of steak in between the cushions of the sofa in the living room.
Well, everyone who was sitting around the dining room table, chit-chatting at the time as I was finishing getting supper ready, totally cracked up and started harassing me about what on earth would a piece of steak be doing in between the couch cushions anyway?
I looked at the item in Shane's hand and laughed telling him for openers, it wasn't a piece of steak but rather was a little bit of a pork chop that had been on the dinner table Saturday night and was left over. Instead of leaving it wrapped in the fridge, I took it out earlier today and gave it to Sammy -the dog -as a little bit of a treat.
Now, here's the problem -or the reason (you take your pick if it was a problem or simply a reason) why the meat ended up between the couch cushions.
Sometimes, when Sammy gets a special treat, he likes to take it into the living room, and his favorite place to sit and gnaw on things -like this -is on the sofa. Not that I appreciate his doing that and we've been trying to reprimand him and break him of that habit, but to no avail. However, the rest of the family -Carrie, Clate and others -aren't aware of some of Sam's not so nice little tricks -like that! So I did get a whole lot of ribbing then the rest of the day about people wondering what else they might find between the couch cushions here too, ya know!
So that pretty much covers my weekend during which time I met a distant cousin, met someone from over 100 miles from here who had graduated from high school with the husband of a cousin of mine, saw some other good old friends and from having had a chunk of meat retrieved from between the cushions on our couch here, learned it's always best to watch to see where Sammy has gone with his occasional little treats!
But for me, the nicest thing about the weekend was talking to my cousin, Nancy, last night and having her tell me that she reads my blog from time to time and that, in doing so, she had happened to have read the post I did on Mother's Day in which I wrote about my Grandma and the relationship she had with all six of her children. Nancy was kind enough to tell me she thought that piece was beautiful and also, true. Said it reminded her of a lot of stuff about her Dad, my Mom and our other aunts and uncles, as well as our Grandmother.
That was the best thing anyone could possibly have said to me!
Thanks Nancy, for the good words and I'll be thinking about you, worrying too that everything this week -and in the weeks ahead -all work out for the best because, just because, I love you!