This is a kind of follow-up from this post which you may want to read first to give you some context.
A few weeks later, it was time to go back to be with family and share in the funeral service for my cousin Gary whose stay in hospice was mercifully short but marked with wonderful care.
I ended up needing an emergency root canal before we could travel and had to wait for the endodontist to return from his vacation, but God was gracious and the timing worked out well and so the kids and I were able to travel home as planned with Shane coming later on the weekend.
While Gary's family took some time to prepare the details for the memorial service on the coming Saturday, my parents' home became the place to be if you were six and under. Laura played all day with her two little girl cousins, inside and out from one idea to the next; they certainly enjoyed themselves. The other little one needed more attention which we were all happy to give. Having someone little to cuddle and feed was a wonderful antidote to the reason for all of us gathering.By Friday, the house was full of arriving family, all of Gary's siblings, his parents and extended family who had different timelines for the last time everyone had seen everyone. Pleasant times, little people, new additions and catching up on family news made for many clusters of conversations and diversions.
And amidst the funeral arrangements, Gary's wife, Donna marked another birthday which we all helped her celebrate by going out for dinner at a local restaurant with her parents and brother arriving in time to join us. It was a full crowd of friends, cousins, grandparents, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters, parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hugs and handshakes, tears glistening, laughter breaking out, the coming together joyful yet marked with sorrow.
My cousin Gary was a Baptist pastor and loved to sing hymns and his children, Rachel and Jason are both very musical, both in playing instruments and singing. Jason played and sang at his Dad's funeral service and I believe that Rachel and Jason sang together at a memorial service held on Sunday afternoon which I did not attend.It was a short time to be together as family, but as Christians, our hope is in the forever we will have with all of God's family.
Here are some videos I took of our time with family both in February and in March. None of them are high quality (and some may make you a bit dizzy, sorry about that) but were filmed to simply capture the spirit of the moment. (If they do not load properly, please try the 'refresh' button on your browser, they seem to load correctly after that.)
And while these next two photos have nothing to do with the family gathering, they were part of this trip so I'm including it here.
A year or so ago, I saw these kilns on some social media page and was astounded to learn that they were in a small park in my hometown area. I had never heard of them and mildly rebuked myself for not being very good at my friend Gerda calls, 'a tourist in your own city'.
So I decided to search them out with my first chance being this past February. I knew generally where they were and thought I would find them by just driving in the area, or as it actually was, Shane driving following my guesses at what direction to go. We didn't find them and I went home perplexed, but determined.
At some point between our February trip and our March trip, my mom mentioned in an email that she had found them(!) by following some obscure sign off a familiar road. They were in a small park that was part of a biking/walking trail system that winds around much of that area. In fact, the quarry trail that we walked back in February is part of that same trail, just at opposite ends of each other.
Based on her directions, coming from a different way, I set out to find them after finishing some shopping one afternoon. I do not have data for our phone, so looking them up while out and about is not possible, but it made the hunt more interesting.
I retraced the way Shane and I had traveled, but made the correct turn where before I had mistakenly chose the wrong way and then suddenly in an unexpected valley there they were.
The kilns were originally inside a large building and were used to make a type of cement which this area became known for. The kilns are in the process of being refurbished as the brickwork was crumbling and falling into disrepair. I was not alone in the park, many casual bikers and walkers were using the trail, stopping to admire the view and take a drink of water on that warm day. It was nice to see that this bit of local history was being appreciated and restored for others to learn about.