Last July, my younger brother and I flew from Cleveland to Fayetteville, Arkansas to spend a week with our grandpa. My brother and I had traveled by plane only a couple of times before, and never without one of our parents. We would have felt alone and confused without each other. His inexperience and dependence on me made me feel more responsible and confident in comparison, and my almost parental guidance reassured him. Traveling with a companion rather than being lost in a sea of strangers made the trip much more enjoyable.
Once we were in Arkansas, we spent a lot of time with our grandpa, watching TV, playing cards, going grocery shopping, and talking. By spending so much time with my grandpa, I learned the importance of what people from different generations can teach one another. My brother and I taught my grandpa how to navigate the Internet, use Google, operate a digital camera, and change the settings on his cell phone. We also taught him that children under twelve are not supposed to ride in the front passenger seat. My grandpa showed my brother and me how to repair and run N-scale model trains, and he unintentionally educated us about American history, one of his favorite topics of conversation.
Part of the historical knowledge we gained from our trip came from our visits to the Gilcrease Museum and Har-Ber Village. We also visited Terra Studios, a magical place filled with imaginative works of art. We watched a glassblower use his tools to pinch molten glass into beaks and wings, crafting Bluebirds of Happiness. We explored the forest populated by sculptures of wacky creatures and wandered through a cave that concealed a jeweled throne.
I don’t have a picture of me and my grandma together, but I do have a picture of my grandma in that throne and another of myself in the same throne several years later. Sitting in the throne was the most frustrated I had felt by my grandma’s death a year earlier. The boundaries of time ceased to make sense to me. If she had sat here once, touched the same stone that I was now touching, then how could I not connect with her somehow? Feeling so close to her seemed to only emphasize that I could never see her again.
On our last night in Arkansas, our grandpa took us out to a nice dinner with five endearingly quirky sort-of-aunts, sort-of-uncles, and sort-of-cousins. Our great aunt (who without a doubt gives the world’s best hugs) tried to slap a waiter with a cloth napkin because he’d patronizingly called her “honey,” and she had to be restrained by her son. An uncle told a story about the time he threw a broom at a squirrel trying to eat his birdseed. The bristles bounced off of the ground, propelling the broom’s handle right through the dining room window, and he then had to try to satisfactorily explain the shattered window to his wife. At the end of the evening, my grandpa told me that he knew the dinner would be terrific because “when you bring good people and good food together, how can you go wrong?”
My trip to Arkansas reinforced for me the value of appreciating good people. Through enjoying my brother’s company, bonding with my grandpa, remembering my grandma, and spending time with my extended family, I gained a new awareness of the importance of connecting with relatives.
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