Friday, December 11, 2009

What a journey

It has been quite a while since I last posted - sometimes life just gets in the way. My last post was about my grandfather being ill. Unfortunately on Saturday, October 31st 2009 Donald Duane Hannaman left us and joined the Lord. My brother had been the only one of us who had not seen Papa since he was diagnosed. Thankfully, my mom flew him up that week to see Papa and spend some time with him. Lucas left the morning of the 31st (his birthday) to head back to Atlanta. Papa passed away a couple hours after Lucas left for the airport.

I don't think it was a coincidence that James' job recently brought us to live in Kansas City, a mere 6 hour drive from the farm, months before Papa became ill. We were able to drive up to spend some time with him before his illness really took a toll. Papa and Grandma met Jack for the first time and spent some great time with Katherine (picking strawberries in the garden, going on walks in the woods behind the house, coloring, etc.). God works in ways we don't always understand (who am I kidding, I rarely understand), but works to show us His amazing love for us.

We drove up to the farm again for the funeral. It is sad that nothing tends to bring families together like weddings and funerals. This was the first time that all of the cousins had been together in a decade. My cousins Brandon (and his lovely wife Marianna), Derek (unfortunately without Jodi and their two girls), and Daniel came up from Arizona with my uncle Rick and his wife Debbie. My mom had been at the farm helping out for a few weeks. My uncle Don and his wife Kathy came down from the Twin Cities (Grandma had been staying with them quite a bit while Papa was in and out of the hospital at the University). At the last minute we found a reasonable flight to get Lucas back up there for the funeral. It just wouldn't have been the same without him there.

At the funeral there were too many people to count - many of whom reminded me that they hadn't seen me since I was little. Papa's brother Gordy and his wife Gen were there along with two of their kids and some grandkids. It is amazing to see random family resemblances that are scattered through the generations. My mom's cousin's daughter Kiana looks a lot like me - so much so that several people took our picture together just to document it! Kind of funny how genetics works in an extended family. I guess that means I get quite a bit of my look from the Hannaman side of the family - though there is another random cousin on my grandmother's side that shares quite a few characteristics with me too.

If there is one blessing that came out of Papa's death it was that it gave the family an opportunity to get together and reconnect. I have now reconnected with several family members on Facebook (crazy, huh). The day after the funeral, when most of the family had gone home, a group of us hung out on the farm. It was great to just spend time together in shared family space, doing what many families (who aren't spread across the country or at least get together more frequently) do on a more regular basis. We drove a tractor around the property, practiced shooting, hit golf balls into a field, talked, worked on some of Papa's projects in the barn - just hung out. Jack and Katherine were the only little kids there so they got lots of attention. My mom and a couple of her cousins have started planning "grandma camp" for sometime next summer. They intend to have several of the cousins and their respective grandkids to the farm to hang out for a week or so. Giving the extended group a chance to get to know each other and spend time with their grandmas. That sounds like a blast!

We have had several other blessings come to us over the last few weeks. Our really great friends from Cincinnati, the Thomas family, came to visit us in KS. It was a wonderful visit. The kids had a blast (their daughter Mara and Katherine were best friends in Cincinnati - they are 6 months apart and their son is almost 6 months older than Jack). For James and I it was a rejuvenating visit. Spending time with such great friends when we don't have close friends out here in KS yet allows us to recharge our batteries. They are like family and we are ever thankful for their presence in our life.

We were not able to spend Thanksgiving with family, but had a great opportunity to spend the holiday with some of our new neighbors. The Frazier family invited us, and two other families over for a wonderful turkey dinner! It was nice to get to know them a little bit better and a blessing to have friends to spend the holiday with. Evidently a tradition here in Kansas City is to go to the Plaza shopping district to look at the holiday lights. This year we were invited by another set of neighbors, the Visomirski's, to have dinner at the Plaza and walk around to look at the lights. It was a nice time. Unfortunately they are soon moving out of the state, but we are thankful for their friendship for the time we have been here!

We are looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with family in Tucson. That is assuming we make it through the 20 hour drive with two kids and a dog!

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