Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Erie trip, the beginning....

After 15 months of remaining in the Dayton area bubble, the Barnett family broke free and crossed the state line into my home state of Pennsylvania. After receiving counseling by our sweet clinic nurse Cheryl, who convinced me to go, we headed out on our five hour trek on Thursday afternoon. Ally had been wanting to go.....but I would never commit to the kids due to the possibility of not going. She knew I had received the call, so in her little voice she said "can we go Mom?" To which I finally, with a small hesitation in my voice, said YES. YES we are going.

The primary purpose was to go see my grandparents....who are amazingly 91 and 93 and living on their own in Erie Pennsylvania. My grandma had not seen Ally or Jerad in two years! We couldn't travel and she has not been well enough to travel either...even staying home for my Mom's funeral (her daughter) last March. It was a sweet reunion and one I had been waiting a long time for, not sure it would ever even happen. But it did and I thanked God for that repeatedly. We also got to see my Mom's sister Gail and her brother Doug. A family reunion of sorts, because my sister Melissa and her family also went. Unfortunately, it was glaringly evident that we were missing one very important person, my Mom. But Mom would want us to stick together and we have and we will. I love to look into the eyes of her family, because for one small moment I can feel like I am looking at my Mom. They are my connection to her. In the past, I would frequently tune out stories of a young Marcy...now I revel in the stories....always wanting to learn one more thing about my amazing mother. The stories become treasures to me and the questions I have get answered. And being in the house she grew up in, well it is very hard for me. I can merely choke back the tears, but somehow it also makes me feel a tiny bit closer to her.
Ally showed Grandma the "beads of courage" that she has earned...four necklaces worth
The whole city has reminders for me, because even though I moved to Ohio when I was about Evan's age, we have gone back there nearly every summer since. And although some people would laugh when I say we "vacationed" in Erie, you really can't beat it. Especially this time of year when the cool breezes off of Lake Erie make August that much more bearable. We stayed in a pretty new hotel right on the bay front, with two queen beds and a water view. Every day we ate breakfast on the veranda with the lake just feet away from us, the kids indulging in fancy hot chocolate in their own stainless steel pots. They thought this was pretty cool.
And each day as we left the hotel, I could look across the street and see the actual hospital where little Janel Mills was born. I guess I was right back to my roots down to the very street! And did you know that my second house in Erie was on Allison Avenue? Wow, that is kinda weird now that I think about it.
The hospital where I was born, because I know it is riveting to see...
As the Barnett family was so used to doing, pre leukemia, we crammed as many things into each day as humanly possible. This is more a Jerad trait, than a Janel trait, but I go along with his plans most of the time which is why we are a good couple. The first day, after visiting with the family, we went to the Erie Zoo. It is the perfect sized zoo and can be done in just a few hours. Unbelievably, my 93 year old grandpa INSISTED on going with us. And yes he walked up and down most of the hills checking out the bears and tigers, and then made a very sweet memory for me by riding on the train with my three year old daughter. There they were, riding the old red train at the Erie Zoo...he had his arm around her and there were 90 years between them. Carly and her great Grandpa Jerry. He loves to make cracks about how he made it to 93 by eating beef and ice cream and drinking whiskey. Whatever it takes, man, I tell him. I think he made it so far because he has always been so active. The man is still known to cut his own grass. Oh and he does laundry, cooking, and shopping too. If you can't tell, I love my Grandpa Jerry.
Seriously. How cute. How adorable.
I should also mention that he was one of the original founders of the Erie Zoo. His name is on this sign as you enter the zoo....had to get a pic.
With all five of his great grandchildren....
Right after we left the zoo, we were driving down the road and I saw the most appropriate sign outside a school. It said:
We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

If only we could all be so wise.

And on that note, being that it is 12:45 am and school starts in less than a week, I best get myself in bed. I will continue with our lovely trip another day. I am sure you will all be waiting on the edge of your seats. I feel like I am giving a slideshow in my family room or something and all my readers are rolling their eyes. Hah! But that is what the blog is for, writing down the memories.


  1. I like hearing about your trip Janel! :o) So happy for you guys that you finally got to travel back to Erie to see your grandparents. I'm a little jealous though. I lost my grandparents years ago and miss them so much. Looking forward to the rest of your story.

  2. Love seeing pictures of your grandparents -- they are amazing! So happy to hear you guys finally got to do a road trip to see family in PA. Next time you talk to your g-parents, send them my love. And love to all of you! Ally looks fantastic.

  3. So glad to hear you got to go to PA. That is a priceless pic of Grandpa Jerry and Carly! Love you

  4. Your grandpa rocks! I love the photos of all of the great grandkids. And you're mom definitely looked like your grandma. It made me smile to see that. I appreciate the family room slide show, so please keep it coming. I hope getting back to chemo goes very well, as does back to school. I can't believe the summer is gone already.

  5. I loved the story and the pictures, keep them coming. I also saw your mom in your grandma's eyes, a vacation in Erie sounds grand. It is wonderful for the kids to have their great grandpa with them. Glad the trip went well and I am sure that this next round of chemo will go well also. Where oh where did the summer go----this is when I am really glad that I am retired. I still miss the kids but not all the stuff that goes with it. Keep on blogging--it is awesome. Thanks

  6. Oh Janel, the pics are wonderful! Summers can't be beat in Erie. Loved to see the tower and both my girls were born at St. Vincents. Great to see that your family had a great time. Hope you got to Waldameer and Sara's too!