I departed Cleveland, OH, early the morning on Thursday, July 1st, heading to Detroit after a brief visit with a dear friend and former Seattle neighbor, Mary Hatcher. Mary moved to Cleveland in the spring of 2016, and I promised her if my travels ever brought me to or through Ohio, I would visit. My planned itinerary to “go home” to Detroit and be with my family on July 4th provided the perfect opportunity to keep my promise. That Wednesday evening, we had a lovely dinner and caught up on each other’s lives.
So the morning that Rhoda and I headed to Detroit, I was feeling grateful for my dear friend, that she had weathered the pandemic, was happy, and healthy. Anticipating seeing family I had not seen for entirely too long, I hit the highway only to discover that the interstate highways and state routes through Michigan were the worst I had encountered thus far on the road trip. The pavement was scarred with potholes and patched over potholes. Driving through the state’s Southeast region felt like experiencing a mini earthquake with every rotation of Rhoda’s wheels. I didn’t recall the roadways being this bad when I lived here. Bumping along I-75 North to I-275 North to I-94 West into Ann Arbor, I found myself muttering under my breath, “How in the world could Michigan residents put up with this?”
Feeling a bit rattled and in need of a break from the road, I stopped for lunch and a quiet stroll around the University of Michigan campus. Without the bustle of students on campus, my walk restored my sense of wellbeing and the courage to climb back into Rhoda and resume our bumpy ride to Detroit via highway M-14 and I-96 East.
We arrived at my cousin Linda’s charming home around 4:30 pm., where we were to be her guests through July 5th. Taking advantage that I would be in town, Linda and I planned to host a July 4th family get-together so that I could see as many folks as I could while I was in Detroit.
Climbing out of Rhoda, I thanked her for enduring the last 10 hours. She had taken quite a beating. Linda welcomed me into her home, helped me get settled, and after we caught up on family news while enjoying a delicious dinner, I headed for a much-needed hot shower and then straight to bed. The day’s drive had beaten me.
Over the following two days, I visited with my Detroit family and friends, dropping in on my cousin Warnita, my dear friend Bunny and her sister, Brenda, and of course, my dear cousins Tinney and Anita. I can never visit the Metro Detroit area without seeing the two of them.
On Sunday morning, July 4th, Linda’s home was bustling with activity as we prepared for everyone’s arrival later in the afternoon. Ovens, stovetops, and grills across the city and up to New Haven were fired up as family members prepared their assigned dish to bring to the gathering.
As 1:30 pm approached, cars and pick-up trucks began pulling into Linda’s driveway and lining along her street. The family was arriving, and the sweet smell of vittles began to permeate the basement family room.
As the day wore on, I loved soaking in the laughter as different family members told stories from the distant past, with others jumping in to embellish the narrative. The house was a beehive of activity as people came, left, and returned throughout the afternoon and evening. Before too long, people had spilled out of the family room into the living and dining rooms. Family can make themselves comfortable anywhere.
I was awe-struck that so many of my extended family, young and old, gathered at a cousin’s home on a national holiday because “Nancy was in town.” How grateful I felt to have this family as my own, knowing that familiar faces from my generation will fade away as time passes, and faces of a new generation will emerge to be patriarchs and matriarchs. As my generation has kept our family traditions, the new generation would someday do the same.
The camaraderie continued well into the night. The last group of folks said good night around 11:00 pm, but not before helping Linda, and I clean up and put her house in proper order. I turned in shortly after the last guest departed.
Before closing my eyes for what I anticipated to be a good night’s sleep, I thanked God for the many blessings he has brought into my life, especially my beloved family and you, my friends who are taking this journey with me.
As we approach Thanksgiving, may I suggest that you contemplate and count the many blessings in your life – family, friends, provisions, protection, and love – and consider how you give back to other’s who are hurting or in need?
Over the past four years, I have been honored to serve an extraordinary non-profit in my hometown of Seattle, Plymouth Healing Communities (PHC.)
Plymouth Healing Communities was founded in 2000 to address the devastating problem of people exiting psychiatric hospitalization into homelessness. They own, operate, and maintain six permanent supportive housing buildings and a “respite” house, House of Healing. PHC provides companionship, housing, and circles of support for people who live with mental illness and housing instability.
If you seek to add another worthy charity to your 2021 charitable contribution, please consider Plymouth Healing Communities. Visit PHC (plyhc.org) to learn more about how you can give back on Giving Tuesday, November 30th, 2021.