As I mentioned on Friday, we embarked on a Lag Liv family tour of central Texas on Saturday. We left the house at 8:30 a.m., battled rain and SXSW traffic to first eat lunch with friends in our old stomping grounds of Southwest Austin. We got to catch up, pass Cora around the table, and return a bunch of baby gear I'd borrowed from them because Cora has already grown out of things and JP won't let me have another baby, before pressing onward to San Antone to see both sets of my grandparents and introduce them to their newest great-grandchild.
We headed up to my mom's parents first (the Swedish ones, for those who keep track that way) and JP got this picture of my grandpa meeting his new great-granddaughter for the first time.
I truly could not love that picture more. My grandpa has struggled so much with his back these last few years (chronic injuries caused by his ejection from his fighter jet when he was shot down in the Vietnam War) and I know it's been so hard to have daily pain amid the realization that it might never go away even after so many surgeries, but he was just SO HAPPY- overjoyed is probably a better word- to see us and to meet little Cora that I keep crying when I look at the pictures.
My grandma is doing great. She's been alcohol-free for more than 3.5 years now and has truly seemed to age backward since she quit. I know she worries about my grandpa, it would be so hard to see the person you love in pain, but she too was just overjoyed to meet and "get her hands on" her third great-grandbaby.
We hung out for a bit in their apartment, catching up on the rest of the family and answering all their questions about the minute details of our lives. My grandpa loves hearing my work stories and they wanted to know everything about JP's business and the kids' school and whether Cora is really always as happy as she was the whole time we were in their apartment (yes, she is). Landon wanted to read my grandpa a book, which I loved spying on through the patio glass door, remembering when I sat next to him after one of his surgeries (shoulder replacement maybe?) when I was in 5th or 6th grade and I read and talked to him by the hour.
Landon then asked to see my grandpa's medals and model airplanes and JP, Landon, and a very happy Grandpa Glenn headed to the study to immerse themselves in Air Force stories and memorabilia.
The girls stayed in the living room and my former-Kindergarten-teacher grandma sang Claire the story of The Three Bears about 16 times.
My grandma raised 4 kids, often on her own while my grandpa was away on tours, so I love this picture of her surrounded by my 3 little ones. The optimism and happiness that I feel I got from my mom began with her- everything will work out, my grandma always says, and everything always does, especially when you doggedly refuse to let anything else get you down along the way. My grandpa hung a "You Are My Sunshine" plaque for here over their bed, and that's exactly right.
They are so special to me- all four of my grandparents. The one thing I truly regret in leaving Austin- more than the hills and hiking and fabulous restaurants- is being 3 hours further away from them and not being able to visit as often as we used to. I'm so lucky to have all of my grandparents alive and healthy and living in the same community, I wish I could take advantage of it more.
Next on our tour, we headed down 6 floors to my dad's parent's apartment. As always they were snappily dressed and ready for a cocktail and conversation. Also as always, they had "a few things for the kids" wrapped in bags that the kiddos were very excited to open. They met Cora while Landon and Claire tried in vain to love on their cat and then Landon got to show them some of his work from school.
We gathered for a group photo, Landon inexplicably clutching my grandfather's shoe horn and Claire holding a cat toy and then we headed down for a group dinner in the downstairs bistro.
We enjoyed a tasty and early dinner, catching up more as we ate and then gathered the greats and great-grands for one final picture (poor Cora was finally getting her dinner and it was interrupted for the shot, the girl can only be pushed so far) before piling back in the car and driving the four hours back to Fort Worth.
We pulled up at 10, tucked our tired kids in their beds, and uploaded the pictures that made me smile as I got ready for my own bed later. I thanked JP for driving the 9+ hours in heavy wind, rain, and occasional traffic- he loves my family, but he signs on for trips like that without complaint because what matters to me matters to him, period. And seeing them, and introducing them to Cora, mattered an awful lot.
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