Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cousins, Cupcakes, Old Friends, Great Friends (Who Know Just What You Need), McGuire's Irish Pub and Sweet Baby Conner

Do you ever notice how, as you get older, you only see your extended family members at weddings and funerals? That seems to be what's happening to us. But we (i.e, some of "the cousins") are making plans to change that. These first two pictures are of 2 of my cousins, my sister and me. In the blue shirt is Sunshine (hey - no laughing...she didn't pick that name, her mother did. And actually, it kind of suits her. She's very bright and warm so shut it! lol), Kristie is leaning against the pole, my sister is the one in black and that's me with my head turned. Sunshine and Kristie are sisters. The four of us are in serious talks regarding a "cousin getaway". This getaway is to plan an even bigger get together with even more of our cousins. Maybe. If we can pull it off. Cousins Michael and Wallace have already expressed an interest to participate. I don't know if any other cousins have been contacted or would even be interested at this point. I really hope something good comes of this. We've all missed so much of each other's lives and losing Joey was a wake-up call. I don't want to feel such regret again and I think my cousins and sister feel the same way.
Moving along...see these cupcakes below? Sunshine brought these from Birmingham for me. Now do you see why I want to make sure we maintain a relationship? ha,ha just kidding! But anyway, these cupcakes are from Edgar's Bakery. If you ever hear any hype about Edgar's...believe it because WOW! They were divine. Totally divine. She also brought some cheese straws and a cream cheese danish. But honestly...cupcakes! Who could even think of anything else when there's cupcakes around?
Not only do you meet up with long long family at funerals, you often get to see friends that you haven't seen in ages. See here's the thing about my cousin Joey. I think he lived in the same house his entire childhood...for as long as I can remember anyway. He and his parents and his sister lived in a little neighborhood where just about all the neighbors knew each other. And I spent a few summer's of my own childhood with them. I loved visiting them. I loved that there were so many kids on that street and that so many families would get together for cookouts and such. It was great. I even lived with Joey's family a couple of times after I had Nicholas. (My situation was messed up - we won't get into that right now because it'd take way too much time and space, but suffice it to say I was floundering about as a very young adult and Aunt Ginger and Uncle Mike helped me out tremendously). Anyway, these neighborhood families are still in touch today, over 30 years after meeting one another. Can you believe that? It's astonishing. And heartwarming. And lucky for me because so many of them came to pay their respects to Joey and I was able to see them again. Joyce and Ted. Robin, Timmy and Paige. Cathy and Tommy. Terri. So many wonderful, wonderful people. As I sit here, remembering them, I'm wondering what it is they thought of me all those years ago. I wasn't wild, but you sure couldn't tell it from the outside. I struggled with loneliness, with the embarrassment of teenage pregnancy, with the shame of feeling I wasn't worthy of "nice" guys so I always picked "the wrong" ones...if I had mastered anything in my late teenage years and early twenties, it was the ability to make bad, bad decisions. But what the heck...look at all the experience and wisdom I gained from those mistakes, right? lol Still...I often wondered what these good, kind people thought of me or if they even did think of me through the years. When I saw them again, it was joyful for me. I felt so much joy in the midst of Joey's wake that I started to feel guilty about it! But I don't think Joey would have minded. He was always the life of the party and I think he might actually have been annoyed if he hadn't heard some laughter and seen some smiles at his wake. And these are people that he loves, too. (And before you start measuring me for that straight jacket, I have to tell you that I refer to him in the present tense on purpose - his body may be gone, but his soul and his spirit live on as far as I'm concerned). Anyway, I saw these people, I spoke with them and I felt home. I got some addresses and some e-mails and a phone number or two. It was great to be given another opportunity to connect with them. I wish you all could know them, too. Joyce was even more beautiful than ever, Ted's hair was much shorter than I'd ever seen it (Joyce and I laughed about that - let's just say they enjoyed some big hair back in the day!), Robin and Timmy looked almost exactly the same, although Robin's hair was shorter, too. And Paige. Well, my gosh. Talk about a beauty. She turned out to be...perfect. Is perfect too strong a word? Nah. She's perfect all right. I always loved her when she was a child. She had the smartest mouth you ever heard. Sassy, sassy, sassy. I loved it. I'm told that one of her daughters acts just like her and I can tell you for sure that the other one looks just like her. Cathy and Tommy haven't changed a whole lot either. Cathy always looks so precious...smiling with all her heart. She and Tommy babysat my kids for me when my daughter was a baby. They, and their 4 daughters, were great to us. Terri's grown into such a beautiful woman, too. I'm thinking I should have stayed around the neighborhood - nobody there seems to have aged badly!! But I guess that reasoning doesn't really work since I think they all eventually moved away, too. lol Anyway, I'm grateful that I got to see them and I'm grateful that us cousins are looking to reconnect with each other and I'm grateful that e-mail is around to help us all stay in touch. I'm also grateful for my friend Susan. Susan knows me so well (and yet she still calls me her friend!). She and I have been friends for what? something like 11 years now? Maybe longer, maybe less...who can remember. She is the one I cry in front of when my feelings are hurt or when I'm upset about something or when I'm scared about something. Other than Randey, she probably knows me better than anybody (and sometimes I think she knows me even better!). Now don't get me sister knows me well, too. But when you are 2 sisters married to 2 brothers, sometimes you can become too much involved in each other's business and that causes it's own set of problems. So Susan is my nearest and dearest friend in the whole wide world and I swear, I don't get why sometimes. We both say we're "High Maintenance" and that's why we don't branch out more with our IRL friendships. lol

Anyway, Susan lives near where we use to live in the Florida panhandle so when we drove down for Joey's funeral, I was able to see Susan and spend a few short hours with her. And what did she do? She made me some genuine, homemade Red Velvet cupcakes that were out of this world. I don't even want to tell you how many I ate because WOW. It was a lot! But they were so flippin' good. See? That's the definition of a friend. She remembered that I said I loved my Grandma's Red Velvet cake and she made the effort to make it for me. And what an effort. Geez. Hope no one tell's Grandma, but I think Susan's got her recipe down pat because Grandma never made better, I can honestly say that. And then....Susan even made me some tomato gravy! Tomato. Gravy. Yes ma'am. My favorite breakfast food ever. I could have cried when I saw the pan! lol I, personally, don't know how to make tomato gravy (one day, I'll have to tell ya'll about my gravy making issues) and the last time I had any was probably way back in February when my mom came to visit. And I don't even remember when I had it before then. Man, I love that stuff. And my friend Susan made it for me. She's the best, you know it? And she wasn't done yet. Check this out.

Do you know what this is? It's a Peppercorn steak from McGuire's Irish Pub in Destin, Florida. And it is the absolute best steak in the world, bar none. Susan bought our dinner there last Sunday evening. It's my favorite restaurant (I'm a loyal customer, too. I eat there or at the McGuire's in Pensacola whenever I get the chance. Sure wish they'd put one here in Texas. Yummy!). Susan, Terry (Susan's husband), Randey and I all drove down to Destin, but not for McGuire's (I did think of you while down there Kat, but the circumstances of the visit were rather somber, especially coupled with the loss of Joey so I wouldn't have felt comfortable with trying to arrange a visit). We drove there to visit our grandson's gravesite. Our little Conner was laid to rest in Destin in November of 2005. Nick and Jodie always referred to him as their "Superboy" and named him Conner because that's the "real" name of Superboy in the comics. With all that had gone on, I hadn't had a chance to get something to leave at Conner's gravesite before we got there. I felt awful about it and Susan could tell. She suddenly insisted that she had to go to the store right that minute, no ifs, ands or buts. At her insistence, Terry drove us to Target where I found a Superman figure for Conner and Susan got a Batman figure to keep Superman company. Again...that's a true friend. Not only does she understand my need to leave a toy for my grandson who lives in Heaven, she even got him one, too. I know it probably seems a little strange for me to post a picture of my grandson's tombstone on my blog. Maybe it is strange. But I don't much care. This gravesite is all we have now. That and a few pictures of him and some precious, sweet memories. I hope no one is put off by seeing this, but if you are...don't tell me. It would forever change the way I feel about you (hey, nothing like stating my position clearly, right?).
As you can tell, Conner's gotten several Superman figures these last 2 years. His other grandmother made the mailbox so that she and others could leave little notes to Conner (my granddaughter loves this feature) and Jodie painted the lovely flowerpot and left it there during their visit home this past summer. As sorrowful as I feel at the absence of Conner, I feel an even greater joy at his having been born. I know that he's a perfect little soul who didn't have to spend time on earth before he got to be with God. But sometimes, I do miss that baby so.
Wow. Guess I've really run on and on today, huh? You can tell I'm behind in my posting because I seem to want to make up for it all in one day! Sorry about that. I'll try to keep the postings shorter than this in the future. Whew. I'm exhausted. Think I'll go take a nap now.

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  1. I am so glad to see you back, I can't tell you. I started to pick up the phone today to check on you because I've seen no comments from you on any blogs. I was starting to worry. The cupcakes look great, so do all you girls. Sunshine really does look like her mother...Christie is a beauty, (as are you all!) Not used to seeing Sherry with short hair...I swear I wouldn't have known her...she's a bit blond, too, isn't she? Conner's stone...what can I say? Not much, I'm choking up. I love you
    Aunt Sandi

  2. P.S.
    How can I send Conner a letter?

  3. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Things go they way they will and there is a reason for all that happens. What a wonderful chance you have been given to become closer to your extended family. Take it and run!!

  4. I'm so glad that you and your family were able to pull the good right out of the terrible. From what I have read about Joey from you and Karen, I wouldn't doubt if he was right there in amongst you all prodding you to get together. I think he's pleased. (Present tense!)

    I'm so sorry to hear about your grandson. I went back through your archives but I only found today's post where you talk about him. Can I ask, if you're up to telling, what happened?


  5. Kari
    I love your post today. I got my vests thanks and have started to wear them Oh I hate cold grey days!! How are you all and Karen and Joey's family? Still thinking of you all. Mary

  6. I think the monument for little Conner is beautiful...

    SO glad to see you back on.I have thought of you a lot lately!

    Great post...

    * LOVE the idea of a cousin getaway. I love mycousins and don't see them nearly enough. All of mine live out of state!

    * The cupcakes look WONDERFUL!!! And Edgar's is absolutely the BEST bakery in the world!!! You got me wanting something from there now. Thanks alot...

    Have a great weekend!!

  7. Loved reading this post and catching up.

    I think planning a cousins trip is perfect. We used to do that almost every year for quite some time. But like everything, it came to a halt for this reason or that. We need to make an effort to get it going again. Your post has reminded me how important it is to make it happen.

    I sure hate you were so close and we didn't get to see each other, but I sure understand. I've been thinking and praying for you and all of Joey's family and would loved to have been able to give you a big old hug. Maybe next time. I'll even treat you to another meal at McGuires.


  8. Hi Kari,

    I'm so glad you are back and blogging. All of that food looks so good. I think it's so sweet that you all decorated Connor's grave. It's amazing isn't it how any life no matter how long he/she has lived touched our lives. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I am happy you are back. I think as you do Joey would be happy that you got to share some special time and reconnect with some great people.
    I think we have more in common than I thought. Before Mississippi we live in the panhandle.Jay Florida. We loved Pcola so much,but loved the peace of our country town so much. I still miss it.

  10. I'm so sorry for all your family loss. There are no words, just healing thoughts.

  11. I am a firm believer that we are the people that we are all because of the things that we go through and grow through in our lives. I have a grandson that left this world at age 10 and like you, I miss him so, yet I am so glad that he doesn't have to live a life of suffering.

  12. I just happened upon your blog, but was so touched by that Superman tombstone. That's a little boy who is well-loved, even now. Thanks for the good read. I plan to be back.

  13. What can I say? You brought tears to my eyes - I think little Connor's grave is a happy place - I'm sure he'd love it!

  14. Dear Kari, I'm so sorry for the loss of your cousin but glad you are getting together with the family. I think it is nice that you remember Conner. It's good that you loved him and that he will always be remembered. Take care, Stephanie

  15. Dear Kari, I'm so sorry for the loss of your cousin but glad you are getting together with the family. I think it is nice that you remember Conner. It's good that you loved him and that he will always be remembered. Take care, Stephanie

  16. Well I tried to comment you last night but my compter once again is having issues. I love this post. You look so happy there with your cousins. A cousin get a way will be so much fun, in New York even better. I really am wanting some cupcakes now too. Susan is so sweet to do the things for you that she does. I am glad you have a friend like that. Everyone needs someone like that in their lives. I love the little batman and superman on Conner's grave. Nick loved them also. I am glad it is all still holding up. I feel the weight of his birthday coming up and I know you do too. You would think it would get easier, but it doesn't. I find myself picturing him running around excited about his birthday. I know he's having a good time up there, but oh how I wish he was here.


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