The schools call it Winter Break, but it really is Christmas Break and the past week has been Christmas week. It has been busy and hectic since school let loose a week ago. We have logged almost 800 miles and have completed two legs of the triangle: Wheaton to Ohio, Ohio to Michigan, with the final leg to finish later this week after New Year’s Day and the trip home.
The biggest excitement has been time with family. My family lives in Texas and Mississippi and Beth’s family lives in Ohio and Texas. Traditionally, we spend the days leading up to Christmas and a few days after in Ohio and recently we have then travelled to Michigan to ski and enjoy the cottage during the winter season. This year Olivia and I were sick before Christmas and we stayed home traveling the day after Christmas to Ohio and just as the snow stopped in Illinois and the roads were clearing; making our ride clear sailing across the flat farmland of northern Indiana and western Ohio, we made good time arriving by mid-afternoon. It was great to see Grandma and Grandpa Weaver. After unloading the car, we exchanged gifts with Olivia and William opening their gifts and sharing our gifts with Grandma and Grandpa. After a dinner of Christmas leftovers, Beth’s brother, Tim and his family, stopped by Sunday evening and we exchanged gifts and shared a few laughs; though Timmy, his youngest, is a senior in high school and Alex and Molly are out of college he can still remember the days of Christmas with younger children. I certainly remember Christmases with Alex, Molly, and Timmy when they were William and Olivia’s age and younger.
Beth had planned to take the kids to see Timmy and his band perform at the VFW Hall to raise funds for the local food pantry. They were about to leave when Ivy got loose and took off. It was the worst possible time and the worst possible place. It was dark and Ivy did not know the area at all, she just took off on a full run. William and Olivia took off after her on foot following her tracks and tracking her down. I took off in the car and Beth took Grandpa’s car. William’s cross-country experience really paid off as he eventually tracked her down by the elementary school almost a half-mile away. We got her back in the garage and made sure we had her tethered with the garage door shut. She had had a tough day with the drive across Indiana in her crate, whining most of the way. When we arrived, she really had a hard time staying in the garage yipping and barking it was clear she was having a hard time not being inside and around people. She finally settled down probably because she was exhausted from her run and she had resigned herself to being in the garage. I stayed back to visit with Grandma and Grandpa.
I always enjoy visiting with Mr. Weaver he is truly an amazing man. I hope when I am his age I am as active as he is. He grew up in Versailles, went to Versailles High School, and except for his two year stint in the navy in the Pacific Ocean during the war, college at Miami in Oxford, Ohio, and a year playing professional football in New York City, he has been in Versailles his entire life. However, that is not the entire story: his dad and uncle started a business delivering eggs during the Depression in Versailles and he grew up helping when he could. He played football in high school and was quite good, but the war and his navy service cut his football career short. When he returned home from the war, he enrolled at Miami University and played football. He was a lineman and big for his day, 6’-2” and 210 lbs., and his nickname said it all: ‘Big John.’ He lettered in his junior and senior seasons and played in the Sun Bowl. After he graduated, he decided to play a season with the New York Bulldogs and enjoyed a great year in New York City. Unfortunately, his dad gave him an ultimatum: it was football or the egg business and he came home and went professional in something else.
Because of that, Versailles is a greater place. He came home, worked hard, raised a family, and became a pillar of the community. Today, he and his generation have left of legacy of service to the community and testament to the meaning of hard work. I sat and listened to stories from Grandpa about playing with men who went on to great football careers – Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian at University of Michigan and Notre Dame, respectively. His coach at Miami was Sid Gillman and went on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career as coach of the San Diego Chargers. Grandpa was inducted into Miami University’s Hall of Fame in 1999 and joined Miami legends Parseghian, Schembechler, Paul Brown, and others. This summer I hope to interview grandpa and put together a video of his answers on growing up, playing football, and other parts of his life, I know it will be a worthwhile job.
Our conversation continued until Beth and the kids came home from the benefit concert and reported out. They had a good time and enjoyed seeing their cousin Timmy. Before long, it was bedtime and time to put William and Olivia to sleep as well as Ivy.
We were surprised Monday morning when Jill and her boys, Sam and John, arrived for a short visit. It is always good to see her and our kids enjoy time with their grown up cousins from Texas. The day as all the others went quickly with time spent visiting and catching up. My highlight was watching Monday Night Football with Sam and John, both avid football fans. Avid, really is an understatement, they like their late father, Foster, are observant and into football. It was fun to watch the game and talk about football with them.
Monday ended, bringing Tuesday as it always does but it meant we were headed to Michigan and winter sports. We packed the truck and headed north. The weather was clear and the drive was uneventful until we stopped to let Ivy take a short walk and go potty. I pulled off and let Ivy out. We had stopped at a park and ride parking lot with two gas stations on opposite sides of the road. She walked around the parking lot; however, she was more interested in rooting through the snow and sniffing but had not gone potty when I noticed the leash had gone slack. Ivy looked at me and realized she was free. She took off, I called after her but she didn’t hear me and she blasted through the intersection at full speed. I hollered for Beth and the kids who started calling for her, too. She crossed the road and ran for what seemed an eternity yet in reality was only a couple of minutes at most. I was certain Ivy was gone or worse, until she came running back and we collected her and put her back in her crate in the car. I was glad that it had ended well, when it could have been so awful. I climbed into the truck shaken and thankful we had Ivy safe. I took a moment and headed toward the cottage.
The last bit of the drive was uneventful, just as the first part had been. The road was clear and we made good time. The entire trip took just over seven hours and included the ‘Ivy stop’ as well as an earlier stop that took far too long! We were at the cottage at last and could fully unload the car and get a good night’s rest. The three days had been long, but fun and filled with family time, travel, and chasing Ivy. It was good to be at the cottage, it was like home full of comfort and peace. Today was a great day, with the forecast for tomorrow a million and six times better. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.