101 years young

On Wednesday our family lost
a matriarch from Hickory town,

With a perma-smile and rapier wit,
the ever lovely Lois Brown.

She stood just a step over four feet tall
but her hearty laughter was felt by all.

Grandpap couldn’t see, and she could barely hear
But I’ve never known such a loving pair

Their house was so warm, that nostalgic, cellar smell
Where Jeff and I slid down stairs ‘til the dinner bell.

She burned through two hips, her arthritic hands were knobbed
But she slew search-a-words like it was her job.

Through her love of life, all odds she defied
And her face bore the lines of a billion smiles.

And though she’s gone, her spirit’s still here
In our laughter, our hearts and that familial cheer

She lives on in our eyes as our numbers grow
And in the precious few who inherited her nose.

Rest in peace, Grandma Brown.
Jan. 3, 1911-Aug. 22, 2012

 (if you hold out until minute two, she really nails her signature part.)


Reunification vacation

After getting accepting into a work-related FEMA class six months ago, I was excited to head back to the U.S. for the first time in more than a year and a half.

But as we started making plans, the four-day class quickly blossomed into a two-week trip, chock full of traveling and family fun.  

Molly spent time at an ashram in Virginia and caught up with her St. Louis peeps, while I reconnected with a few college chums, a former East Bay Indian, and visited Gettysburg.

In addition to reuniting with friends, this trip back was full of several firsts: It was the first time Molly and I had spent more than two days apart in the past two years; I had my first Newt Gingrich sighting a few blocks from the Capitol (yes, his head really is that big); and most notably, it marked the first meeting for members of our immediate families.

As part of the event we started calling the grand rendezvous, 19 members of both families converged on Pigeon Forge, Tenn., (near Gatlinburg), enduring more than 10 cramped hours on the road for the promise of a luxurious vacation cabin in the Smoky Mountains.

Within minutes of arriving, the nephews and nieces (7 in all) quickly monopolized the game room, igniting rivalries too fierce for the tabletop Ms. Pacman and plastic air hockey paddles.

We took a daytrip to Smoky Mountains National Park and spent the remainder of the weekend enjoying each other's company and relaxing. Oh, there was a talent show, too - a knee-slapping, gut-busting embarrassing array of showmanship and bravado. (See for yourself in the video below).


And although we don’t plan to return to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., anytime soon, in light of the overwhelming success of the first Hayden-Buddemeier reunion, I know it won’t be the last.