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Adult Slumber Party, I Mean Camp Out, I Mean Family Reunion.

Two people fell in love.

 

 

In London, England in the 1950’s.
He was an American, son of a small town Massachusetts farmer. Across the Atlantic because he was serving in the United States Air Force.

She was a beautiful young british woman who didn’t take crap from people but was simultaneously the nicest person you’d ever meet.
His name was John.

Her name was Ellen, but every one called her Judy.

    Seriously, she was the nicest person on the planet. She could befriend any child, animal, or person. But you don’t mess with the people she loved. My Dad always tells the story of him getting punched in the face during a high school basketball game. (It was the 70’s. Court brawls happen.) He said he looked up from the pile of opposing team members throwing punches towards him and he saw his Mother. She had climbed out of the stands in her high heels and big giant floppy hat. And she was wailing the kid punching my Dad with her giant purse.
 
You don’t mess with the people she loved.

I can promise you that to this day, all 10 of her grandchildren secretly think that they were her favorite. That’s how she treated every one. They were all her very favorite. 
After, he scooped her up. Married her in London and brought her back to farm town Massachusetts. They had 4 SONS in 5 YEARS. God bless that Woman.

All because too people fell in love. 
Their four boys grew up and got married, started families of their own.

(My Dad dancing with my Nana at his wedding.)
Growing up didn’t matter. Every one was still always at their house. It didn’t matter how big the gang got. That was home to every body.
First came two pretty little girls.
Then before you could blink your eye there was nine of them.
A baby every year.

Then just when you may have thought our clan was complete. A last beautiful baby girl showed up.
So our crew consisted of 10 kids and 10 adults. The 20 of us went to Boston every year. (Children’s museum obviously.)
Vacationed at the beach together.
Or just ate dinner on their deck, that was our speciality. Like I said, their house was every body’s home.

We shoved each around during Easter egg hunts and stopped to eat pears from the tree in their yard.

No one was too old for capture the flag, hide and seek, and water guns.
We climbed trees.
We jumped off large mountains of sand behind their barn.
We fed the horse and cow that lived next door.
We play board games.
We sang Christmas carols in the living room.
We teased each other for fun.
We threw wrapping paper at each other.
We laughed, a lot.
 
I’m sure the adults had all kinds of adult bull crap going on. But they didn’t let that trickle down to us. They always regrouped and put on their best smile for all of us. They taught me how to have fun.

Nana Christmas shopped year round. To have 20 stockings on your fire place every christmas morning. You need to have a game plan. She paid attention to what every one needed and bought presents for everyone. It was not that she spent a ton of money. My Grandfather owned his own masonry company. He busted his ass every day of his life. They had everything they needed, but they were not wealthy. She was just thoughtful and loved giving.

She encouraged every one to be different. Well, to be themselves. Because EVERY ONE is different. People don’t belong in a box. She knew that long ago.
She took us to the cemetery across the street from her house. She would have us fill up buckets at the well and water all the flowers at very grave. She would explain to us, “Some people’s families live far away. So we have to help them out.”
She helped us prepare shows for the nursing home she worked at. She would bring us all and have us sing christmas carols for every one there. We probably sounded like a heard of street cats. But we never knew that. As far as my memory is concerned, we all were basically a professional children’s choir. She was so good at building people up.

She encouraged every one to be themselves. She never made you feel silly. She validated all your concerns. Whether your problem was big or little she always had time to listen. But you knew if you were coming to her, you were going to get the truth.

I have a very clear memory of a time I walked up to her weeping.

 I said, “Matthew (cousin 1 year older.) took all my Quints dolls and cut all their hair off.”

The first adult I had brought this complaint to said, “Britt, Don’t be a tattle tale.” So I snooped around for my Nana for love and in search of justice.  She said to me, “Well Miss Britt. I certainly don’t like their hair cuts either. That was not nice. But what am I going to do about it? The question is, what are you going to do about it?”

I continued to whine and weep like the little dramatic brat that I was.
She crouched down on her knees and looked me right in my face. She said, “I’ll tell you what you are going to do. You are going to march right down there and  look him dead in the eye and tell him, ‘You don’t treat me this way.’ and if you have to stomp on his foot, so be it. ‘and if you tell any one I told you to do that, I’ll deny it.’ Then she winked at me, spun me around, and went back to cooking.
It’s interesting to replay that story as an adult in my head. So many of you are like, “Telling a kid to stomp on another kids foot? Uh no. That’s not OKAY EVER.” Hmm.. Well don’t you just know everything about parenting.

The way I see it is that you MUST protect your kid for a while. When they are little, that is your job.  But eventually you have to figure out when to expose them to the world a bit. Not always fight their battles for them. You may disagree, but don’t forget to let me know when your kid is living in your basement as an adult, so I can say I told you so. Haha.

The way I see it is, she was pushing me to fight my own battles. Stand up for myself. She also adored my cousin Matt like you wouldn’t believe. But that didn’t mean she didn’t know him. She knew he was the king of the castle. And every once in a while needed to be challenged.

That’s the whole point. She knew us, all of us. As individuals. She listened. She paid attention.

That’s what love is, my friends.

Who do you take the time to really get to know?

Well, are you ready for the sadness? If you are an intelligent human being you obviously read the paragraphs above and picked up on past tense.

Yes, we lost her too soon. 1997. Breast cancer. She fought for so long too. At one point she was in remission and considered a Cancer survivor. So we would all go to the parties at the hospital.

But alas, we lost our leader.
The glue that stuck this rag tag group of hooligans together.

I miss her every day.

Way too young to leave us.

Nowadays when people tell me their grandparent has died. My first thought that sometimes falls out of my mouth is, “you’re a so lucky.” Now I know that is a terrible thing to say. I realize this. It’s just that my brain can’t help but immediately think, “Wow you are 30 years old. You had them for so many years.”

Now, it’s 2015. After years of growing up, grief, falling apart, and then falling back together. The gang has realized that we have to put in the effort. We are adults now. With so many different careers, geographic locations, kids of our own, and completely different lifestyles. So we just have to say NO to:

“We are too busy”

“Too far of a drive”

“Not a really good time for us”

“Not sure what our plans are”

Even if it is one weekend a year, we must hang. We have all grown up so much, but I think the only thing we will never outgrow is each other.

So I had 40 people sleep in my back yard last weekend. People have said to me, “Wow that’s a lot of work.” or “You must be glad every one is gone. That’s a long weekend to host.”

Negative. negative. negative.

What these people don’t know is that spending time with this motley crew makes me happy. No one knows you like some one you have shared a childhood with.

They are your oldest friends. The people you could call no matter what. They are irreplaceable.

They are your favorite people to dance with:
Play games with:
Share your happiest day with:
You can’t grow up and get too busy. Because you would miss 
THIS:
 
BECOMING THIS:
 
SO every year we MUST build tent city. 
 
(WE BUILT TENT CITY! WE BUILT TENT CITY ON ROCK AND ROLL…. Com’on sing along. Every body)
I can’t just “get dinner” some night with these people. They are the people I need to sit around the fire with until the night gets late and the truth comes out. They are the people I need to  drink coffee with in my pajamas the next morning.
 SO therefore we are never allowed to get to busy for each other. Or too tired. Or too over worked. Or too old. Or any other adult phrase I hear all the time.
We won’t forget John & Judy (the original ganstas known as Nana and Grandad.) But we will honor their wishes. That we will always love each other and that we will never stop having fun together.
I think they would approve.
Man, they would have loved all of these faces we have added. 
Just remember,
All because two people fell in LOVE.
 
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