The Wine: Chardonnay Reserve (Limited Edition)
The Winery: Grand River (Madison, Ohio)
The W(H)ine: Family Fetes & Fortified Finds (Columbus/Canton Connections)
6/26 – 6.30/22 Columbus, Ohio
My son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law welcomed my barely breathing body late Sunday eve after thirteen humid hours on the rainy road from Tulsa. Upon arrival, the sweet couple offered this Momma a well-earned glass of Blanc paired perfectly with freshly laundered sheets, head AND body pillows, plus a “Coors Light” themed weighted blanket (is there any other kind?)
I plopped my pooped self in bed, basking in bounty aplenty, including adult children outshining any Airbnb host, horizontal positions bringing balance & restoration to wracked-from-white-knuckled driving aches, and dreams of next day’s poolside party planned by Covid-conscientious-and-HOA-honoring sister (whose wine-in-a-can and cheese-n-cracker-to-go containers made for a magical and meaningful Welcome to Ohio).
I found myself wanting nothing. (Read: "Find It Here")
Celebrating a son’s thirtieth, albeit belatedly, proved providentially provided for, too. Like all good humans do, I kept trying to make the magic happen based on varying work schedules, budgets, and energy-levels. Instead, the same Universe keeping my “good” ideas at bay mustered up an unexpected all-expenses-paid party at a Columbus sports dive called Nasty’s.
(Yup. That’s an Ohio Find).
The bar’s owner shared his own California connection, privately paid our bill, sending us home happy, full, and full of well wishes. Because no one had time to fill the fridges before my arrival, we topped off an imperfectly planned perfect party with Kroger’s famed Angel Food Cake, Ohio grown strawberries (take that, drought-infected-California), and way-too-much whipped cream. (Not really, there’s no such thing.) Yum.
The party found us.
Making meaning of thirty oft-trauma-flooded years through evenings of shameless story-sharing, purposeful perspective-taking, and courageously cultivated conversations.
“Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou
We did better.
Mother/Son. Wielder/Wounded. Healing/Humbled
We found our way back to one another.
6/30 – 7/5/22 Canton, Ohio
Nothing like snuggling a new niece to start the weeklong hometown visit…while a beloved girlfriend of over thirty years awaited my arrival in Canton, I first found excuse to meet Baby “I”, born eight weeks ago to a younger sister…
Oh, my sweet goodness. 2100 miles is far too far away to smell an infant’s newness, to meaningfully capture the changes a baby makes in its earliest weeks outside the womb let alone to the transformation from what was a family of four and no more (two boys) but is now expanded in all the best, beautiful ways but dang, does a baby make a world of difference.
Though niece will never recall these moments in vivid, if any recall, she will absolutely thrive for months, years, and decades as a result of such tender touches, of secure attachment.
PSA: We ALL came into this world hard-wired to find connection to others.
To touch, to feel, to hear, to see and be seen, to know and be known, to love and be loved.
We must make healthy, meaningful connections early in life, or we die a thousand deaths in every developmental way: spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, and even physically.
Upon arrival, those connections are completely up to others. The Universe is twisted that way.
As renowned emotion researcher and social worker Brene` Brown declares, “Love and belonging are irreducible needs for all people. In the absence of these experiences, there is always suffering.” -Atlas of the Heart, 2021
I think we spend half our lives surviving whatever happened to us at and shortly after birth and maybe a few key years after, then the second half (if graced with enough time wandering this plagued planet) bringing the unconscious conscious to unlearn conditioning that led us this way.
We need meaningful connection first with our own authentic selves (whoever he/she/they may be) to find our way forward with any others.
To reclaim lost ground, lost relationships, and lost time…we must begin again. Baby steps…
So, starting this return home with a newborn’s grace felt so right.
Baby “I” needs not my history, my shame, or others blame, to be connected.
She needs only Safe Presence. Pure Attention. To Be Held and Beheld.
She and me, both. From this security of belonging first to ourselves, then to others, we thrive.
Now, the festivities may commence.
And did they ever.
I struggle for words (#neverhaveIever) to describe the Family Fete planned and executed ever-so-thoughtfully by another sister and her dear husband, who reportedly spent hours searching YouTube, considering child development for the dozens of underage attendees, as well as the plethora of cousin’s various temperaments when planning what would become a July Fourth BBD (our family’s code name for P-A-R-T-Y) Carnival like none I’ve ever experienced.
Not even in all of California. Or anywhere.
I found Ohio’s “IT” in my sister’s backyard on Sunday.
IT is WHATEVER IT TAKES to MEANINGFULLY CONNECT a host of family members from different races, places, and spaces for an entire day under Ohio’s rare, but quantifiable sunshine (UVA Rays 9.1, Humidity 90%), in ways invoking the most positive in the range of human emotions:
Joy, Awe, Wonder, Amusement, Belonging, Courage, and Love.
Now THAT’s quite the FETE/FEAT. (Especially for a family little known for partying. I mean, we grew up flushing toilets on New Year’s Eve because we didn’t own a tv or drink or have friends outside our tiny religious circles. We’ve come a LONG way, readers.)
One seven-year-old nephew, physically spent (which no one thought possible) after eight straight hours playing games outside (one dunking booth “win” that sent my only brother into soaked shock as buckets of water poured overhead thanks to the homemade structure comprised of 2X4’s and PVC tube, and one-clearly-used-before green paint bucket), participating and maybe winning the kids’ food contest (adults participated too but no one cared as much as the “10 & under” and “20 & under” entries, especially as prizes AND trophies were handed out), and dexterously dancing his heart/soul/body out on a cement surface under precariously hung blacklight to all the great 80’s tunes (plus a line dance or two) into the wee hours of this glorious night, whispered wild-eyed to his exhausted momma, “Just five more minutes, puhleeeeez!”
No one wanted to go.
We all found reasons to stay.
Only when 83-year-old knees gave out, 2-month-old babies wailed, and midnight skies threatened thunderstorm, did the fulfilling fete fade. One, I dare say, will ne’er disappear from our memories, old and young, individual, and collective.
Hangovers notwithstanding, all carnival attendees rose to Monday’s traditional activities: North Canton 2- and 5-mile races, kiddie race, parade, and pool party (at yet another sister’s gracious invite).
Then Mom fell, and her catching broke a wrist and took a momentary toll on consciousness, followed swiftly by ambulance ride, and day-long tending to by daughters-a-plenty.
We found ourselves alive with group text connection, errand collaboration, and loving communication, putting the elder’s needs ahead of a day’s expected festivities.
I found a part of my heart for Momma I perhaps ought to have known for some time now.
Mom, too, needed Held and Beheld. Seen, Known, and Loved. She Hurt, Wounded from a Fall. Though casted and medicated, all mom wanted was to be Present at the Party, in the middle of the People she helped create, name, raise, and release. She needed to Hold, and Behold.
What did I FIND on my Ohio return?
Whatever “IT” is….
Because I was looking? Maybe. Because I belong to myself? Perhaps. Because when ready, the Universe provides. Well, duh. And when you are not, the Universe provides whatever “IT” is you need. Yes, and Amen.
We need one another.
Whatever “IT” takes.