Note: This column appears in the 6/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/5 issue of the Peoria Times
We decided to make a last-minute trip back east over Memorial Day weekend to see our families. We even brought along one of our foster kiddos. To say that this trip was amazing and well worth it is an understatement.
The major influence behind us returning home for a few days was that we discovered some of my wife’s relatives from Italy would be there for her cousin’s graduation. On top of that, this was also the weekend of an annual popular Jersey Shore road race that we used to take part in. You may recall that this was the race I collapsed at due to dehydration two years ago. Therefore, this trip served two purposes: 1) see the Italians, and 2) redemption.
First up was the graduation party, where we got to see my wife’s Italian relatives, henceforth known simply as “Italy.” Italy was indeed thrilled to see us. But it was our little one who stole the show, and who, due to all of the attention, had assumed that the whole affair was her birthday party. It might as well have been. The night ended with a wet pull-up and a “timeout,” which is how most of our family functions end, with or without kids.
The next night we went to my sister and brother-in-law’s house to hang out with everyone again, and to spend more quality time with Italy. That is, until we discovered that Italy had opted to go down to Atlantic City instead for the evening. Couldn’t really blame them. And besides –- we’d see them again in 15 years. Also, we needed our rest, because the next day was race day.
The following morning we surprised the rest of our family who had yet to be surprised by showing up to the annual pre-race gathering at my aunt and uncle’s house. Hugs and kisses all around. My wife tried to take a picture of everyone, but half of the family had already left for the starting line. Then everyone was gone, leaving me, my wife and my cousin to walk alone, while I carried our squirmy 32-lb question machine the whole way. Only our family races to a race.
We finally caught up to everyone near the starting line. It was at this point when my father-in-law asked if we could run together. I said sure, and was comforted that I’d have a running partner, considering that, ya’ know, the last time I ran in this race I finished in an ambulance. When the gun went off I looked to my left and my father-in-law had sprinted 50 yards ahead of me. I never saw him again.
We had now been officially ditched by everyone in our immediate family and the entire nation of Italy. Quite humbling, indeed.
Nevertheless, I finished the race without collapsing, thus accomplishing the second goal of our trip. Afterwards, as our family shuffled off to the post-race party, my wife and I took our foster kiddo to the beach so she could see the ocean for the very first time.
I sat there in the sand, thankful for this time with our family and marveling at their go-go-go lifestyles. I wondered if that used to be us, and if we’ve settled into a more “laid back” Arizona lifestyle. I watched our little one challenging the waves to catch her feet, and I quickly realized that this trip had a third goal. So we stayed for a little while.