It had been three years since I last saw my sister and her family. Instead of trying to round up the assorted family members to celebrate her 70th birthday this past August, they decided to head east and visit as many of us as they could while the weather is still nice and make some stops along the way to see friends from Illinois and to see some of the national parks too. They left the West Coast on the first of the month driving and called me to let me know when they got to our cousin’s in Wooster, Ohio earlier this past week.
Friday mid-afternoon I loaded my car with a few things I wanted to give my cousins in Wooster, a 24 cup coffee pot that I used once for a party for my writers group. One person drank a cup of coffee. The other item was a large wok with a wood handle and a stand to use over a gas burner. It is quite nice and it came to me from another cousin ten or so years ago, but I never used it and it is now too heavy for me to hold so it was time to take it out of my cupboard and give it to someone who could make use of it.
I mixed a large jar of salsa with drained cans of corn and black beans and re-filled the jar from the salsa, and took a bag of blue corn chips and put them into the trunk along with my overnight bag, coat and hat.
The colors of the trees were muted, but nice to see anyway. Once I left highway 480 and entered 71 going south, towards Columbus, the traffic increased and I supposed there was a big game at Ohio State in Columbus. I was really glad to get off at 83 heading to Wooster.
Always thankful to arrive at my destination safely, the first order of business was to unload the trunk. Liz and Rich said they could use the coffee pot but not the wok, so I was hopeful that her elder son, Ed, who is quite a good chef and always cooking great things and doing events, might be able to use it. Sure enough, he was glad to take it and I was glad it will get well used.
The house was buzzing with relatives who arrived earlier, my Aunt and Uncle from Georgia arrived the day before and my niece and her daughter were there since Wednesday. My youngest Aunt was seated by the island in the kitchen and her youngest granddaughter was playing with my niece’s daughter.
Colette, my niece, had prepared chili in a pot that was two feet, yes two feet deep for the next day. Bernie, our youngest Aunt had brought pans of stuffed cabbage and vegetarian lasagna, so the eating, drinking, milling about, talking and laughing ensued.
Liz marched me up the stairs in the garage to the second floor which has served many purposes over the years but now seems to be a workshop for her husband, Rich to do picture framing and she wanted to show off his fine job framing a number of prints that my sister and brother-in-law had invested in several years ago and had kept flat in a portfolio ever since. Each print certainly looked professionally matted and framed. Everything he does is precise and attains a high level of excellence.
Back down to the kitchen where Uncle Bob had mixed me a martini and people were opening the snacks and digging in with gusto.
As the evening wore on and those who were heading back to their homes left, the noise subsided and Joanne and Ray had not yet returned from an evening with long-time friends, the core of the group settled around drinks and began again tapping into memories. When Uncle Bob talked about the little 2 bedroom house (for 2 adults and 4 children) his parents bought in Parma, Ohio after having lost a house in the great depression, he remembered that there was a Bartlett Pear tree in the back yard. This information was a huge gem for me. It explained in a moment why my father planted 2 Bartlett Pear trees in our backyard in Mayfield Heights where my sister and I grew up. My mother canned from the great bounty every year and we enjoyed them all winter long. He also planted one tree in the yard of the last home they owned. Once I saw a little square dish with pears painted inside of it and of course I had to buy it. Now the significance has increased.