I moaned and groaned the entire night. I packed grumpily. “Mom, do I have to go this time?“ Of course, she ignored me. It looked like I had no choice in the matter. I was going to Valdosta, Georgia whether I liked it or not. Not to give the wrong idea, I love my family who resided in the small Georgia town. What did not sit well with me was the town itself. There was no excitement to it. The only thing that I could honestly say I was looking forward to was my Aunt B and Aunt Tee’s southern cooking. The thought of it made my mouth water. Every time we traveled to Georgia, we were greeted with one of their famous feasts.
The drive into Valdosta seemed to fly by considering that I slept throughout the entire trip. When I awoke, we were driving up the dirt road leading to my grandfathers house. As my mom, Aunt Pene, and myself got out of our SUV, we were greeted by my grandfather’s wife Gale, as well as her fiesty
Chihuahua that they called Missy. Missy and I never quite got along. So, it was no surprise when she began to growl at me, as she always had when we visited. I rolled my eyes at the pooch and continued on into the house to greet my grandfather. He was seated at the kitchen table like always. His face lit up. My grandfather was always happy to see us. He helped us to get settled into the spare bedrooms in which we were staying. After making sure we were all comfortable, Gale informed us, to no surprise, that Aunt B and Aunt Tee had been preparing a big dinner for us.
After dinner, the adults sat around and reminisced. I on the other hand, being the only minor there, was bored out of my mind. I wasn’t in the least bit tired. I wanted to do something! Anything! This was far from my hometown St. Petersburg, where there was always some kind of party or event for teens going on somewhere. I sighed as we got back on the road heading back to my grandfather’s house, realizing that my night was indeed over.
The next day, I was determined to enjoy myself. I knew I had my cousin Daphne, who literally lived a field away from the house where we were staying. She was 21, which was 5 years older than me. However, she knew the town could be extremely boring. When she got off of work that afternoon, we headed to Valdosta mall. What a relief. We shopped until our hearts were content. Later on that night we were met with another dinner. My Aunt Tee held my attention this night, telling stories of her parents, her grandparents, and the hardships that they faced growing up in a very racial time period.
We were back on the road to Florida around 3 ‘o clock Sunday afternoon. On the ride back home, I reflected back on my visit to Georgia. It was a trip that we‘d taken many times. However, on this particular trip, I gained much more that any other visit. I’d established an entirely new appreciation for my Georgia relatives. Their southern hospitality made the entire trip a welcoming one. I had a new found love for the relatives that I’d never had the pleasure of meeting. That summer trip to Valdosta was one that I complained endlessly about, yet gained the most appreciated knowledge from.
We spent the next day visiting relatives. We visited Aunt Mary, who at 91 years old, was a vivacious and beautiful woman. We also got a chance to pay respects to a slew of relatives that were buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery.
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