The boys are going to stay in Mayberry for the next week, to spend time with my mom and to dog-sit for her while she and her sisters take a few day-trips across the state. I'm glad they are all going to have fun; the sisters, as they go sightseeing, and the boys, who will, no doubt, take full advantage of the fully stocked fridge, the ginormous television, and the close proximity to the Dairy Queen.
I am not looking forward to returning to work, nor am I excited about the end of summer, but, I also know that there are worse things.
I can also say that we will never again have to spend the first Stampede without Dad; we've put that in the rearview, thankfully. Granted, I don't harbor any illusion that it will get easier as the years go by, but, I do know that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to build a solid tradition for my children and I hope that they will let the good memories of Stampedes Past color their enjoyment of the event going forward. That is what I hope for, for myself, as well.
And, there were some good memories to add to the collection this year. I'll always remember this as the year that Mom and all of her remaining siblings were together. I'll remember the sound of their individual voices coming from the kitchen, where they gathered around the table to reminisce about their youth. I'll remember the laughter that echoed down the hallway when they recalled something particularly funny, and I will remember their arguments over the division of family photos: these are the sounds of my childhood and I had not realized how much I had missed them.
In addition, I will remember trailing behind them all as they walked to the local park to check out the vintage car show-each holding a colorful solo cup full of tasty beverages, despite the questionable legality of that action.
They gave me ample opportunity to laugh this weekend and, for that, I am grateful.
Not pictured: Red solo cups