Back at the room I enjoyed my coffee and a toasted sesame seed bagel with lite plain cream cheese, while Lisa (who doesn't drink coffee) had a Diet Coke with her wheat bagel with lite plain cream cheese.
Shortly after breakfast, we were in touch with (Rene's) Pam and had plans to be at my aunt and uncle's house, where we were to spend the afternoon until heading to the hospital to witness my aunt and uncle's renewal of their wedding vows.
We had a great afternoon there, which I'll capture in snippets, thoughts, recollections, soundbites, and observations:
- Lisa and I entered around back through the side door to the lanai and found the triplets (Marisa, Brooke, & Ben), Ryan, Tara, and Andrew playing in the pool.
- The "adults" were inside. (Rene's) Pam showed us in, and we found Jeanne in the kitchen putting the final touches on a pasta salad.
- We slipped my anniversary card, which was addressed to "The Bride and the Groom," behind a wall portrait of the couple on their wedding day 50 years ago. (A picture of the portrait is further down in this blog entry.)
- The "boys" had gone to the grocery store from which they called not long after we arrived to admit that they'd forgotten the list at the house.
- Rene and Roger grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken breast patties for lunch, and we enjoyed them along with various chips and the pasta salad. Everything was delicious.
- I had a delightful conversation by the pool with Bobby and Bobby's girlfriend Pam—not to be confused with Rene's wife Pam, and then a little bit longer one just with Pam. I felt connected to her in that we're both in the writing and editing field.
- I officially "met" Tara—Rene and Pam's daughter who got in late last night from Chicago—when she came out of the pool, whom I instantly liked and enjoyed talking to about her recent attainment of her Master's degree and soon-to-start job with Bloomberg's in NYC.
- Over the course of the afternoon, I once again enjoyed Ryan's banter with his parents, and saw the same in the interaction between Tara and them as well. Also, brother and sister seemed to enjoy each other's company, too.
- We enjoyed stories of Ryan's new roommate—a Polish girl who really likes to cook. And Ryan likes that she likes to cook.
- My aunt Rita came back from the hospital some time early in the afternoon, and we tried to find ways to keep her from getting in the kitchen and doing anything else she could to be in her usual helper mode. We wanted her to just relax. Finally, Lisa and I were successfully able to distract her by asking her to go through some old family pictures we'd both brought with us, which were obtained by the recent going through of Lisa's mom and dad's house due to her mom's recent passing in February.
- My aunt told a funny story, which was interrupted and diverted a number of times, about trying to bake a cake at 5:00 this morning and finding the eggs "just sitting on the counter staring back at her," just before putting the batter in the oven.
- Roger told a funny story about that same time of the morning just trying to get a cup of coffee, and ultimately helping to grease and flower cake pans.
- When Roger asked me what I wanted on my hamburger, I said, "When Liz Taylor was at her fattest and they asked her what she wanted on her hamburger, she replied, 'A hot dog.'"
- There were brownies for dessert, and when my aunt heard that my cousin made them, she asked, "Did he put a lot of nuts in them? I like a lot of nuts in them."
- Around 3:00, 3:30, everyone got ready to go to the hospital. I changed out of my bathing suit and into shorts. Unbeknownst to me, my decision to keep on my flip-flops instead of changing into my tennis shoes was one being made (consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously) by everyone going.
Before leaving the house, I asked for this picture to be taken of me with all of my cousins:
Not long after everyone arrived at the hospital, the priest arrived who was there to renew my aunt and uncle's wedding vows after 50 years, and as soon as they finished moving my uncle out of ICU into a regular room (YAY FOR THAT!), we all gathered around the bed for the event.
After the "ceremony," Jeanne and her family, and Bobby and his girlfriend Pam, went back to their respective hotel rooms, and the rest of us headed back to my aunt and uncle's house. As we left, Bobby kissed me on the cheek (not unlike French people are apt to do) as we hugged goodbye, and I was once again touched by what amazing cousins I have. This demonstrative nature of their love and affection was to be alluded to later again this evening, as well.
Roger rode back with Lisa and me, and we stopped at BJs to pick up some chicken and steak to grill out tonight, along with the littleneck clams and scallops already back at the house.
Once again, the boys did all the cooking and some people swam and the rest of us sat around the table enjoying each other's company, and once again, I'll capture the night in snippets, thoughts, recollections, soundbites, and observations:
- Roger, Lisa, and I had a fight at the BJs check-out register with both of them trying to stick their credit cards into the slot, while I tried to force a twenty-dollar bill into the bill reader. Roger "won"—or lost, depending on how you see it. Thanks, Roger!
- The triplets, for the most part, were in the pool from 7:00 until about 11:00. They are just three big bundles of pure energy.
- Connie and Paul joined us for dinner.
- We had some most delicious crackers and cheese, which I had a devil of a time cutting, because of how hard it was and the butcher-sized knife I was using.
- The grilled littlenecks were good, and the grilled scallops were exceptional.
- The main course was grilled sirloin steak and some grilled cut-up whole chicken basted in vinegar and water, which was lovingly referred to as "Douchebag Chicken" by Roger, and then "branded" by me as "Summer's Eve Chicken". It was grilled to perfection and most delicious.
- My aunt returned from the hospital a little later after spending some time there with my uncle after we all left, and a little later with Jeane and her family when they returned for another more intimate visit with their dad and grandfather.
- My aunt told a story about "soiling" her dress, which was followed up by Roger sharing what was essentially the classic dad's "Pull my finger!" story. The apple didn't fall far from the tree. Didn't even roll.
- (Rene's) Pam grabbed my arm and hugged me tight several times during the day and I felt closely connected with, and drawn to, her.
- My aunt opened her cards and the gift of a framed picture of Lisa and her mother, all to share again later with my uncle. I wrote in their card, something to the effect of: "I'm so happy and honored to be included in this occasion. Your kids are absolutely amazing. Congratulations on this milestone in your lives. Much love, John."
- At right around that time, Lisa made a comment about how she was really touched by the feeling of love that was so tangible in this family. "I feel the same way," I echoed, and I thought, "The word that comes to my mind to describe it is palpable."
- We said our goodbyes at around 11:00, and on the way home—fortunately before we got over the toll bridge—we got a call that I'd forgotten my bathing suit and other t-shirt. So we turned around and got one more chance to say goodbye to (Rene's) Pam and Roger who were waiting for us in the driveway.
Back at the room, with our hearts filled to the brim, Lisa read for just a short while, and I made a few online Scrabble game moves before dousing the lights.
My dear cousins (first and second), I'd love to hear your comments about what stood out for you during the day! Please use the "Leave a comment" link below to post your thoughts, and sign or initial your posting as you'll post as an "anonymous" poster. Love you guys!