I was without a working computer for a few weeks, so I really fell behind on blogging. Now that I only have 2 weeks left on my trip, I'm doing my best to catch up and write about every state I've been to so far.
My first cousin once removed (the son of my paternal grandma's brother) Michael, invited me to stay with his family in Gloucester even though they'd never met me before. Michael and Traci, and their children (my second cousins) Eirene, Josiah, and Bethany treated me like I'd always been a part of their lives the moment I pulled up to the house. I didn't get to meet their oldest Nicholas because he's away at school. I felt at home because I was pretty much immediately integrated into their routine. I helped feed the chickens and shared a room with their youngest, Bethany, who stayed up talking to me until well after midnight because as she put it, "I've never met you before. I just have so much to tell you!"
My immediate family has a particular way of putting everyone to work. I grew up with it being the norm. If I had friends come over for dinner, they would have to help make the pizza dough. If my dad drove us to the mall, he was going to bring us to home depot and have us carry things to the car on the way. It's common practice for my dad to have my brothers and their friends help with construction around the house when they're hanging out there. The fact that I picked up and dropped off the kids from school, helped with homework, and fed the animals a few times added to the feeling of belonging. I was so glad to help because Josiah had broken his thumb a few days before and had to be taken for appointments and surgery (he's doing well, he's so brave!). Knowing that Michael and my dad grew up together working on my Great Uncle Jerry's farm makes a lot of sense when I see how they both operate now.
The day before I left I was able to have lunch with Bethany at her elementary school and teach her classmates during recess. She taught a few of her classmates with me, and then they began teaching each other! I had only brought 4 ukes with me and I wished I had brought all 9 because the students were so into learning and teaching each other.
Later we picked up Eirene from high school and they took me on a tour of the main part of town. They said it was just down the road, but it took 20 minutes to drive there. I am obviously not used to places being so spread out after living in NYC. Of course Bethany made sure to bring a uke with her into the ice cream store and taught our cashier how to play. I have no doubts in my mind that we share the same DNA.
The morning I left, Michael and Traci made sure I took a huge tub of peanutbutter with me in case I got hungry on the way to Savannah. I got to hold a chick that had just hatched in their incubator, and I dropped Bethany off at school. Before she got out of the car she said, "You know, I'm really glad we're family." Me too, Bethany! I'll miss all of you!
Total People Taught: 22
Check out the rest of the photos here!