Friday night: Aunt Helen and her family

Warning: This post is most assuredly for and really only for my extended family, who might be interested in our extended extended family. Thanks for letting me indulge. I will continue with the rest of our journey tomorrow.

When we planned out trip to DC, I knew we needed to add at least a night and visit my great-aunt Helen (my mother's aunt) in Bethesda, MD. I had actually never met my aunt Helen, so all I had to prepare myself for the visit were descriptions from my parents. My grandma Mimi's younger sister. Saint-like. Matriarch of her family.

Well, I found out she was all that and more. The kids and I flew in Dulles, Brandon picked us up (hooray! we were so happy to see brandon! and he brought licorice and cookies! he really knows his family) andwe were on our way. The turn off to Bethesda showed the gorgeous Potomac River to the south, and we wound our way to her home through a beautiful green forest.

When we got to Helen's house, she came down to meet us. A first glance at her took me aback--she looked almost EXACTLY like my grandmother (who passed away 12 or 13 years ago)--I had forgotten that family resemblance can be so strong sometimes. Made me want to weep.

She took us upstairs to her spacious apartment, decorated in a style again so much like my own grandma mimi it was uncanny. the meticulously painted tea cups. The silver candlesticks and sparkling chandeliers in the dining room. the large living room with expensive trinkets from around the world (or at least they looked expensive, as the thought of my kids breaking them made me very nervous). the comfortable couches and many "conversation areas." The sham and down pillows on the guest bed. I just wandered from room to room, remembering what it was like to be in such a place.

Later in the evening, we had dinner and visited with 3 of Helen's 7 children. Mike came first, with a big friendly dog who slept in the kitchen even amidst Annie's wild "PUPPY!! PUPPY!!" outbursts. He and Brandon talked bridges and buildings, and he was wonderful. Then Kathy joined us and I was immediately drawn to her calm, kind way. Finally, Laurie and her family arrived and I busted out the camera:

I was just taken by how these people loved each other, enjoyed gathering at the home of their beautiful mother and grandmother, and were interested enough in me and my family to come out for an evening. They all had compliments for my dear mother, who is their cousin, and it was really enjoyable getting to know a little more about each of them.

In the morning, I asked for one more picture with aunt Helen, as well as snuck around, taking pictures of pictures and rooms and such:

Annie and Zane made themselves right at home:

I don't actually think we broke anything either. Woot! In other words, it's okay to bang to stainless steel coasters together, even if the noise is horrendous. Just put the crystal coasters up high, on the mantel, and you'll be set.

And then we were off! We spent a total of about 5 waking hours with Aunt Helen. It was not enough. :) But it was a moving experience for me, nonetheless.

Tomorrow, I'll tell about our drive-by tour of DC and joining Brandon's family for adventures in Western Virginia!


walt or jean said…
It is hard to put into words what these pictures mean to me. Mimi would be so happy to see all of you together like this. I am so glad you could connect with my beloved family on Mom's side. I love them and you so much!