Friday, April 28, 2017

Seeing Family in All Forms

Cracker Barrel, Gas City, Indiana

In my last post I mentioned how we had stayed at Four Cracker Barrels four days in a row.  We ate at all four, and we checked with staff at all four.  The answer was always, “You are more than welcome…”   The picture above was taken on Tuesday the 25th, which just happens to have been mom’s birthday.  It was near Gas City Indiana, and was very quiet…as have been all of the Cracker Barrels we have stayed at.  WAY better than at rest areas or truck stops.  And only at the last one in Southwestern Michigan did we have company…two ladies in a Canadian RV Van from Canada.

Marcia, Byron, Dave

Here is a picture of Marcia (left) Byron (middle) and I (right) taken by Byron’s wife Jennifer inside Cracker Barrel just before Byron had to leave after a two hour lunch.  Should have had my camera, but just never thought about it.  Jennifer and us stayed another hour or more talking…what a joy that was to meet these relatives of Marcia’s…just as it was to meet Connie and Jim the next day in Michigan.

Lavidas Graves

Yesterday we drove over to Gary where we visited the graves of Marcia’s “Yiayia” (Grandmother) and her Mother and “Pa” (her step father, her brother Dean’s father).  It was cold…at 49 degrees, with a slight wind. 

Uncle Tony, Uncle Anthoulis, Constintine, Mary (Marika) Lavedas (Yiayia)    Helen and Hercules Iracleanos

Marcia lived in the same room with her Yiayia for 22 years.  Her step-dad was very close to her, and then there was her mother…it was all a bit emotional in a nice way.  The Iracleanos graves are closer to the road, to the left of the Lavedas graves (her Uncle Tony, Grandfather Constintine and Uncle Anthoulis and Yiayia).  Marcia walked out to her Yiayia’s grave…but it was very cold and it took us longer to find her ma and pa’s graves.  Since they were closer to the road, we stopped and she paid her respects from the warmth of the car.

John Karagas and Marigo Karagas

There were LOTS of family in the graveyard…including her Yiayia’s sister, Marigo Karagas, grandmother of and John, father of, Kerry Karagas who passed away this past November and who’s wife Ginger we have had dinner with a number of times this winter.  (Ginger, you might want to print a copy of this picture for you family album.)

We are at the Cedar Lakes Ministries RV Park in Cedar Lake, Indiana.  We stayed here back in 2012 when we came through the area, and found it as it is now, a nice, safe place to stay while being fairly close to Chicago.  Unfortunately, the people we wanted to see in Chicago who oversee our retirement IRAs could not move us up on their calendar…but after we see Marcia’s cousin Lee and wife Ginger tonight, we are off to Arkansas tomorrow where we will first go to Fort Smith, and then to Little Rock. 

Joyce Parker Marcia

We then head out to Phoenix for the Celebration of Life for Marcia’s friend Joyce, who passed on Wednesday.  Laurie, who is the youngest daughter of Joyce, posted this picture on Facebook from back in or around 2005/06. of Joyce (left) Parker (middle) and Marcia (right).  Parker died in 2011, and Joyce had a very hard time without him.  Marcia has known Joyce for nearly 50 years. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Four Cracker Barrels in a row...and a farewell to longtime friend

Tonight we are in a Cracker Barrel just above the Indiana state line in Michigan.  We have had two lunches in a row with Marcia's cousins, each at Cracker Barrel.  In fact, this is going to be our fourth Cracker Barrel in row...but two nights in  RV park starting Thursday.  We had AWESOME visits with cousins of Marcia on her mother's side.  I have come to learn a LOT about her upbringing, her Greek Heritage, and oh, the list is long...  Sure glad to have met Byron and wife Jennifer yesterday in Indiana, and Connie and Jim today in Battle Creek, and especially for the latter two for driving all the way over from the Detroit area today to meet us!  We had a great time and great visits with all.

Today as we started up the tire pressure sensor to leave Cracker Barrel after lunch, we immediately got a low tire reading...this time the inner tire on passenger's side. We were a mile from Discount Tire, and this Discount Tire had brass tire valve stems for inner dually tires!  I told the manager that the shop in Sacramento and the shop in Tennessee did not have them.  He said he got a stock of 30 of them a year or two ago just for situations like I faced.  At $4 each it was a deal, and no charge to put on since I had bought my tires from Discount Tires two years ago.  Not wanting to wait too long, and because work on the breaks is going to take place a week from today in Little Rock, I had him just put on the one, and the other will go on in Little Rock.  And I don't need any extensions for these inner tires any more!  Our tire problems are behind us!  And it only cost $8 and 90 minutes of our time!

We have had lots of communications with Phoenix, and today's text telling us that Joyce had passed away was expected...but still the news was a shock.  She walks into the Hospital on Thursday, and finds out for sure it is leukemia on Monday, and today she is gone.  We will miss her, but our faith tells us she is happy, in no pain, with her Lord and Savior, and with friends, family and loved ones who passed on before her.  Our prayers are for those she left behind that morn.  We plan to be in Phoenix for the service in a few weeks.

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