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Time regained, a special family weekend

On Friday morning we packed up and drove to the west side of the state with Jon's parents for a family reunion of sorts with Jon's dad's family, fully intending to come home Saturday morning. Two days at the beach and two barbecue dinners later, we rolled into our own garage late Sunday evening. The unexpected, the unplanned, can be fun and exciting, and we were having such a great time, and such great weather, that we just couldn't bring ourselves to leave.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about this trip, besides the hours spent enjoying the waters of Lake Michigan, was the time spent with family that Jon remembers only from childhood, I remember only briefly from our wedding, and Calvin remembers not at all. The Ophoffs are a large family and spread all over, so to gather almost all of the siblings (for Jon the aunts and uncles) in one place for a weekend is a special event, and we spent precious time gathered in kitchens and sitting rooms talking, for some of us reacquainting, and ahhing over babies and children.

It's hard to believe, but for all the very valuable time spent in those gathering places of the home, I have almost no pictures of enjoying the people, only of enjoying the environment. On our first night there we attending the 87th birthday party of Jon's great uncle, the event that was ultimately responsible for the weekend. Tag, bubbles, and Popsicles with second, third, even fourth cousins, barbecue, cake, candles, and a belted kingfisher catching fish in the lake below.

On our second day we went to the Grand Haven State Park and staked out our towel spot with umpteen other beachgoers, who graciously left and gave us more space an hour later when the clouds started rolling in. Clouds didn't stop us from swimming and building with sand, and they lifted later as we walked along the lighthouse and pier.

This is a location from Jon's childhood. I've seen pictures of him as a boy on this very beach and along this very pier. How appropriate that I'm reading Proust these days, because these are things once lost in time, and are now found again.

Grand Haven has a quaint main street of shops (and a tiny museum) that drew us to town after dinner, and sent us home with a dragon puppet and a book about blacksmiths (because every vacation, no matter how impromptu, deserves a souvenir). And our second night in the welcoming home of Jon's aunt and uncle was again spent giggling with family over summer snacks and glasses of chilled white wine after the kids were in bed.

Impromptu is impromptu, and the next morning, about when we intended to be headed for home, Jon was on the phone canceling his two afternoon piano lessons while Calvin (successfully) lobbied for a second trip to the beach. He came to me at the achievement of this success and declared triumphantly that we were indeed going to the beach and that everyone was coming "even Aunt Karen and...and...the other man!" and that is why we were there, because these, Jon's aunt and uncle, are people Calvin had never met, but after a weekend of introductions he found them special enough to include in his conquest, and maybe he can even learn their names and to become comfortable with them.  The beach was fun, but it was the time with these people that was most notable from the weekend.

And now we're home. Being away for two days, by surprise, and having no internet access has left me feeling a little off, as far as time is concerned, and Jon staying home on a Monday is going to leave me even more confused. I feel as though we've been gone for a week, and yet I've lost days in my mind as well. We are home now, the pictures are edited, the time catalogued in the mind, then tomorrow is another holiday, another day of celebration.

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