(with cameos from Indiana and North Carolina)
We headed back to Ohio on Labor Day weekend. It’s a lesson you’d think we’d have learned by now, but it never seems to quite sink in: no matter how much time you have at a place, it never feels like enough. We had eight weeks scheduled in Findlay which seemed like it would be more than enough time to rest, relax, work, spend time with Mike’s parents, and visit all of his relates: grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins, and kids (of which there are almost fifty). But, of course, as soon as we got there, we remembered again that time flies by in a heartbeat.
Working full-time during the week means we only really get a few hours on weekday evenings to hang out. There are so many members of the extended family that we filled up every weekend trying to visit as many of them as we could, but it still felt like we barely got time with any of them.
Our first weekday outing was to Dublin, Ohio, where, along with his aunts and uncle, we attended a high school football game in which Mike’s cousin’s son was playing. The theme of the game was red white and blue. We ate stadium food, and cheered, and it felt like one of the most American things I’ve ever done in my life.
Our first out -of-town weekend was to Lansing, Michigan. Two of Mike’s uncles live there with their families. The first night, we parked the RV in the first family’s driveway. We spent the evening hanging out around a fire talking, and then slept in the RV. After that, we spent a couple of nights at an RV park down the road that his aunt owns, which felt like a special treat. We even went shooting! Because their families are in Michigan, I hadn’t been able to spend much time with most of them before our visit, so it was really great to be able to go to them and get to know everyone individually.
The following weekend, we drove to Columbus, Indiana with a different aunt to visit Mike’s cousin and her family. All of their kids are really into sports, so we got to attend a sixth grade football game (with the nine year old daughter as cheerleader), and then we all dressed up in red and watched the Ohio State football game on TV. (Go Buckeyes!)
The weekend after that, we flew to Raleigh, North Carolina, and met up with three of his aunts, one uncle, and his 90 year old Granny to celebrate the 100th birthday of Great Aunt Louise, whom we had visited a few months earlier when she was a mere 99 years old.
We spent a final night away in Ashland, Ohio, and played laser tag inside the house with another cousin’s kids.
When we weren’t out of town, we were in Findlay, hanging out with all the rest of the family! Another nice thing about Findlay was that we also had friends. We did a few escape rooms with our California friends who live in Granny’s old house. And we also, unexpectedly, became fast friends with Mike’s sister-in-law’s parents, with whom we have a roaringly fun time every time.
After all that, the time felt like it had slipped through our fingers. Too many people, not enough time.
It was a lovely opportunity to spend so much time getting to know Mike’s wonderful parents. In my mind, we were fairly close already, but obviously getting to spend such a big chunk of time with people can make a huge difference in how well you know each other. By the end, I think we were all able to understand each other even better than before. It feels like a rare privilege to be able to have that sort of relationship with your (soon-to-be) parents-in-law. It’s also always nice to hear the stories of Mike as a kid, see where he got some traits from, and visit all the places from his childhood. We had some great quality time all together. I think the biggest blessing of all was being able to spend time with his grandparents. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, one grandmother passed when I was four, and I was never close with my other grandmother, who passed away when I was in college. I never really got the full grandparent experience, and not only am I grateful that Mike is able to have so many grandparents around this far into adulthood, but I am very glad to have the opportunity to adopt them as my own.
Somehow, we got to spend time (though never enough time) with practically every member of his family, except for a couple of the little kids. All of them welcomed me in and made me feel so comfortable and accepted. How lucky we are to get to know each other’s families so well and make such awesome memories with everybody, and right before our wedding! It’s going to be a blast. And a real meaningful one.