Yesterday, my grand nephew, Jacob Vincent Harmon married the love of his life, Melanie Cossabone in a cozy little setting in front of their families. The wedding was held at the home of the groom’s parents, Chantel and Dave Balcerzak, with a family dinner afterward. Jake and Melanie were both so happy and the ceremony was perfect. It’s hard for me to believe that Jake…my first grand nephew is old enough to be married, but of course at 25 years old, he is. It’s strange how someone can go along and not know that something is missing, until they find that one person who completes them. That is really how it is for Jake and Melanie. They are so perfect for each other, that it is hard to think of one without thinking of the other.
Jake and Melanie met through a mutual friend, and they knew that they really liked each other immediately. Before long, they knew it was love. Now they have married, and are ready to start the rest of their lives. They have two sweet little daughters, Alice, who is Melanie’s from a prior relationship, and Izabella who arrived on December 21, 2015, as an early Christmas present to them. Life is perfect for them now, and it is easy for the rest of us to see just how very happy they are.
Melanie is a perfect fit in our family too. Many times, family members really don’t like the person their kids choose to marry, but we all love Melanie. She is the perfect mix of funny and sweet, and that is just perfect for Jake, who is a big jokester, with a sweet side of his own. Melanie adds a bit of balance to their lives too. She is always there for Jake. She takes care of their daughters and makes a wonderful home for Jake. That, in itself, makes the rest of the family think that she is very special.
So, yesterday, their wedding day, was the perfect next step for this sweet couple, and we all want to congratulate then and wish them all of God’s greatest blessing, as they start their new life together. I believe they will have the happiest of marriages, blessed in every way, and that they will live happily ever after. Melanie and Jake…you make a beautiful couple. Congratulations!! We are so happy for you!!
A number of years ago…a little more than forty one, to be more exact, my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer purchased a cute little travel trailer from Mom’s sister, Evelyn and her husband George Hushman. I’m sure that to many people that fact would seem like an unimportant tidbit of information, but to my sisters and me, it was like taking a stroll down memory lane. Mom and Dad always loved to travel, and wanted to give their daughters as much of the world as they possibly could. I’m sure that sounds like most parents, or maybe to you, it sounds like we were spoiled children, but you would be wrong, if you thought that. To our parents, giving their daughters the world, meant showing us what a great nation we live in, and maybe even adding Mexico and Canada to that list of places we have been. As kids, we were viewed as very blessed, because we were far more traveled than most of our classmates. There may not have been tons of money for those adventures, but Dad and Mom always found a way to make it happen.
For many years we all slept in different areas of the station wagon they drove. Dad rigged it to allow seven people to sleep comfortably in that station wagon…an amazing feat in and of itself. Eventually however, we would really get to be too big to continue that sleeping arrangement, so they knew that a travel trailer would be needed. During that time, Mom and Dad had told Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George how much they liked their little travel trailer, so when they decided to sell it, Mom and Dad were the first people they thought of. Mom and Dad were so happy about buying that trailer. It was to be the next step in the traveling, camping, memory making kind of lifestyle they wanted. The kind of life they wanted to give their daughters. It was truly an exciting day for them.
The trailer has not been used now for about 15 years, sadly. Most of those years…the last ten anyway, were since our parents were sick, and since my dad passed away in 2007. Since Mom’s passing on February 22nd of this year, we decided to sell the trailer to my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his fiancée, Kayla. When we looked at the title, we took note of the date they bought the trailer. It was February 14, 1974. When my sister, Cheryl Masterson saw that date, her mind immediately pictured Mom and Dad on the day they purchased the trailer. She said, “And about the date of purchase, I can just see them walking out of the bank after signing the paperwork, and Mom saying, ‘Well, we got ourselves a trailer!’ And Dad saying, ‘Yeah. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mammy!’ And then they sealed that with a kiss! Can’t you see that?” Yes, Cheryl, I can see that. I can picture it very clearly in my mind, because that was the way they were, and the kind of love they had.
We all have memories of home…the home of our childhood. Most of those memories are as sweet as they can be. Memories of laughing and playing with our siblings, or special dinners with the family…always bring back the warm coziness of those carefree childhood days, when your dad and mom were there, taking care of you, and you knew you were safe, because their love surrounded you and every part of your world. As a kid, I experienced a closeness with my family. Dinners were eaten together, and we talked about our day. It was our way to reconnect with each other after a busy day at school or work. But, while we had a close family life that was far different from many families of today, it was nothing like the evenings that my mother and her siblings spent at their home, and in many ways, I feel like it was I, or rather our generation, who missed out. We may have had things like movies and television, but the closeness they had, and the stimulation of their imaginations…well, our world just couldn’t really compare to theirs at all.
The hours after school at my grandmother’s home involved getting dinner ready for the family, eating dinner, washing the dishes, with everyone singing while they worked. Finally, the work is done, and the evening turns cooler. Grandma and Grandpa, George and Hattie Byer would sit together on the couch covered with a blanket. All the children would get a blanket of their own, and sit around the floor and their parents feet. Everyone was cozy and warm. Then, Grandma Byer would read to the family. It was like the movies of today, except that the screen was in your mind. It was a nightly tradition, and since there was only a certain amount of time to read, a book could take weeks to read. The family never seemed to mind that, however, because the result of stopping for the night was a curiosity about where the book was headed and what would happen the next day. Every night was much the same, with the children listening intently to their mother’s voice telling them the story of cowboys and Indians, or sailing ships from far off places.
As my Aunt Sandy Pattan, who is my grandparents’ youngest child, told me about this nightly tradition from her childhood, I could hear in her voice that the thought of it was taking her back to a time when all was warm and cozy in her life. I could picture just how much fun it must have been to sit there at Grandma Byer’s feet listening to her voice reading the story, and creating a picture in your mind that was almost like being right there, in the story. It was such a pleasant story, that I began to wish that it had been a tradition in my own life, or that I had thought to start such a tradition in my own family. The mind is such an amazing part of a person, and to think that it could create a movie like story from the reading of a book, is really amazing. I think that the cozy scene I pictured in my head from just hearing Aunt Sandy tell of it, probably paled next to the reality of just how amazing a tradition it really was to listen to her mother read while sitting at her Momma’s feet.
When we were moving things out of my in-laws’ house, so it could be sold, I noticed how lonely the house felt. A house needs people in it, creating memories, so that it can really have…life, so to speak. When its occupants are gone, taking with them all the memories that they made there, it just feels sad, somehow. Most times when that happens, the other people who spent time in the house never get to see it when new memories are being formed and the house is filled with people again. That is not to be the case with my in-laws house, however, because our nephew, JD is buying the house.
It will be a bachelor pad, at least for now, but that’s ok. The memories that still live within the walls will continue to echo for JD and for any of us who visit him. There were many good times had there, and because some of the things that belonged to my in-laws will remain in the home, we will often be reminded of their time in the home. I think especially for JD, the memories will remain strong, as he spends time in his new home, with the memories of his grandparents.
JD used to love to go over there and share talks and laughs with his grandpa. In fact, JD has never known a time when his grandparents lived anywhere else, since he was less than a year old when they moved there. All of his childhood memories of visits to his grandparents are centered there. I’m sure that JD will have many moments when he feels like his grandparents are right there with him. I know I would, but it will be a warm cozy feeling, like being wrapped in a warm blanket of memories.
It seems fitting that now, as JD is turning 25, and the house needs someone to live in it, that the two of them should come together. Both of them will be starting a new life…a new journey. Today is JD’s birthday. We are glad you are buying the house. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!