It was not until adulthood when I began to truly appreciate the ancestral history blooming from my family tree. When the stories come to life in an experiential manner, it is pure magic.
On Sunday, my father's side of the family converged on a tiny town called St. Peter's Village in the mountains of Pennsylvania to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. What made it even more special, other than honoring a strong and beautiful woman, was that we were able to tour the farm house where she raised her 4 children. The place where my father lived his childhood.
Luncheon was held at the Inn at St. Peter's, a quaint, historic little Inn with amazing character and history. My family rented out the entire Inn and the main dining room. Though it wasn't a surprise party, my grandmother surprised herself by becoming so overwhelmed with emotion she cried. Crying is super significant because my grandma does not cry. Instructed to never cry as a small child of a stoic, socialite mother and a kind but shrewdly business-minded father, she held fast to the "no crying rule" the entirety of her life. Despite a life of hard work on a farm and a tremendous amount of stressors to include and the loss of her first husband and one of her sons, I've never seen this woman as anything but steel and fortitude. While she is a softy, she is not a crier. Well, not until this day.
CB was so well behaved and calm.
I'm not sure I've ever seen her so relaxed and quiet for so long of a day.
With her Grandfather
Twelve of my grandmother's 15 GREAT-grandchildren were there to celebrate with her.
Whenever I wonder how I've navigated successfully through life's challenges, I know it's because I have a little bit of my grandmother in me. She is a no nonsense, family oriented, pull-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps, quit complaining and keep truckin' along type of gal. The salt of the earth.
An incomplete photo... minus one brother, one nephew, Rella and CB. And obviously no spouses.
It was just too much chaos to get proper group shots.
Notice my dear niece's Mockingjay pin... Someone's a Hunger Games fan.
A creek with gigantic rocks behind the Inn provided hours of fun and exploration. Dr. Fabulous in his canary yellow golf shirt and slippery dress shoes got roped into taking our eager girls out rock hopping. With coffee in hand. Always.
Such a rugged outdoorsman...
OOOoooo, look at that agility!
Phew, without spilling a drop.
I saw one of my beloved cousins I haven't seen in almost 8 years. He left his organic farm in Maine with his two precious girls (whom I had never met) to complete my grandmother's special guest list.
Pink and her best buddy/cousin hanging out.
The current owners of the farm have been there for 17 years. A historical landmark dating back to the 1700s, the farm and farm house had apparently been abandoned and dilapidated for at least a decade before they bought and restored it.
The current owners were kind enough to let over 30 people descend on their property and stay and play for about 2 hours. What good, good people. They drove my grandma around in one of his 7 beautiful cars. My husband was hoping to tour this guy's cherry red Ferrari (should a Ferrari be any other color?).
What a wonderful place for my dad to grow up. He learned a lot about hard work here. This was a true sheep farm and how they made their modest living. My grandma had left a life of luxury and wealth for love. She was disinherited by her mother when she chose to marry a "simple man" and she took to the hardships and sacrifice of farm life like a canary takes to singing.
They had barely two nickels to rub together. But they had lots of love.
It was a really cool weekend.
Happy 90th Gram.