I think I gained at least five pounds during our farewell tour in Cincinnati last week. And at my height, five extra pounds are so unforgiving. It was, without a doubt, the most unhealthiest visit ever. Not only did we intentionally feast on our Cincinnati favorites — cheese coneys, Graeters ice cream, etc. — but nearly every single gathering … and nearly every single meal … was out on the town for brunch, lunch, snack/coffee, or dinner. With people to see all over the place, it was just easier for work and school schedules to meet at meal times.
I guess I could have ordered salad all those times, but who in the world wants to do that?
So we filled our days zigzagging all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. We usually started our days at 10 am and didn’t get home until 10 pm. If folks only had 30 minutes to spare during the day, we dropped by their work stations or front porches for coffee and hugs. Most of the time, though, we were able to sit down and enjoy a meal with conversation.
And for one of the evenings, Martin and I hosted a family dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens — the same place we did our vows renewal in 2012 — so we could see everybody at once. I love it when our family is together like that. There is so much energy.
Certainly, leaving Ohio with a few extra pounds was absolutely worth it because it meant spending time with people we love and adore. I don’t feel at all guilty for those calories, but I do feel bad thinking of all the people we weren’t able to see. In the nearly 10 years of all those visits home, I’ve never really been able to shake that guilt, ever.
But of course, our friends and family in Ohio and Northern Kentucky are always close to our hearts and near in our thoughts. I am always hopeful there is next time.
A sampling of our visits …
As the family was loading up in the van to drive away, I popped back into the house to say goodbye to this puppy.
This is Max. My dad got him in the spring of 2003. It just so happened that I was visiting from Italy, about seven months pregnant with Miss C. Max was such a little thing. He fit in the palm of my hand. His favorite place to sleep was on top of my belly. For the rest of my visit that time, he was nestled right there.
When we moved back to the States, he (and his partner-in-crime, Dixie) always knew who we were — the whole gang, even when we brought new babies. They barked like crazy at strangers and squirrels, but with us? We were always greeted with yelps, and circles, and joy as if we were the missing pack members finally returning home.
Max is older now. Dixie is no longer with us. She crossed the rainbow bridge earlier this year. Max is totally deaf and blind. He’s slow. He bumps into things as he finds his way around the house. He prefers to sleep in the kitchen next to the heater and that’s where I found him. He jumped when I put my hand on him, of course, and I know he didn’t hear anything I said to him, but as I leaned in close, he perked up. Then as I lifted my phone for a picture, he snuggled and licked my face, and thumped his tail.
Some goodbyes are definitely harder than others.