After two restful evenings in Knoxville, the four House girls (Mama and my two sisters and me) headed southeast to visit our Carolina peeps.
First stop: a visit with Mama's Aunt Harriett, 97 years old.
What a history these two share, and so many fun times! Mama remembers Harriett as a very young, spunky woman who came from way up north in New Hampshire, marrying Mama's Uncle Wilfred and moving to North Carolina, bringing her boundless energy and fun into the family. Mama declares they'd never known a woman like Harriett, bold and brash for her time, appalling and yet absolutely adored by everyone. She's feeble and frail and forgetful these days (as she puts it, "I have a crack in my brain!), but her eyes still sparkle with mischief.
Aunt Harriett lives with her daughter Martha, a ball of energy herself. Beautiful, generous, and spunky Britt women!
Of course, you KNOW I can't go to Carolina without at least a quick visit with MY Carolina peeps! We fought the terrible Charlotte rush-hour traffic to stop by Kyler and Kara's house for pizza supper and some Gramaw-smooching.
I delivered the chullos (traditional Peruvian hats) I bought for my grandkids, and it was a huge hit with Lucy.
I cannot DEAL with this level of ADORABLENESS!!!
Abram was his normal adorable self as well, entertaining us all with his antics.
He wore his chullo too....
The visit was way too short, but better than nothing. Just making me long for some more Lucy-Abram time...gotta make that trip soon!
Our home base for the next two nights was a beautiful, quiet place near Mt. Gilead, NC, where many of my family lives.
My cousin Lydia told us about this place, and it did not disappoint!
A charming lodge nestled behind some big pecan trees...and so, so QUIET!
Lots of long coffee conversations on the porch...
Such a spectacular September afternoon...perfect for a mini-reunion at the Mt. Gilead park!
Uncle Earl drove up in his snazzy 1952 Chevy.
Photo albums full of memories...
Mama with her sister Bernice and brother Larry...
Girlfriend-cousins/aunt...I SO wished we lived closer! My sisters Maria & Barb in front, cousins Lydia and Elaine behind, with our aunt Violet (who is just a couple of years older than us) and me. These girls know how to laugh and have FUN!!!
All of the Britt women are talented. They admired Mama's handiwork in the memory bed scarves she made.
Five of the living nine Britt siblings were able to be there.
Such a wonderful afternoon!
That evening we met up with Mama's youngest brother Jeffrey and his wife Laura. Jeffrey is my age, and when we got together as kids he would always say to me, "My mama is your mama's mama." Kinda unusual (but lots of fun!) to have an uncle my age...happens in big families like Mama's.
Another sleepover at The Fork, then early the next morning...
...we checked out the world class stable facilities...
...took a selfie for posterity's sake...
...and reluctantly said "good-bye" to Maria. From there, she headed back to Florida...
...and we hit the road for the NC coast to finish our road trip visits.
The cotton fields were at their peak, the harvest just now beginning. So lovely!
We stopped in Jacksonville to meet up with two more of Mama's sisters. Rachel (far left) is a resident at a very nice care facility there, and Shirley drove over to see us.
We had quite a noisy circle of family enjoying our brief time together!
Uncle Otis (married to Aunt Shirley) was celebrating his 82nd birthday. Quite the character, definitely one-of-a-kind!
Aunt Rachel and me. She was the first author in the Britt family, writing about her life in "Shadow of the Sawmill," and was one of the inspirations for me to start writing books too.
Suffering from Alzheimer's, Aunt Rachel did not remember who I was, but she kept telling me I "favored someone she knew." That works. Love this precious woman!
Barb and our cousin Vince...
Our cousin Stevie and his wife June with Aunt Shirley...
Aunt Rachel with her two sweet sons Stevie and Vince. Uncle Percy passed away several years ago. So many wonderful memories visiting their home, trips to the beach, Uncle Percy playing his guitar and singing, eating their home-raised watermelon (Percy only allowed us to eat the very middle sweet heart of the melon), playing in their yard...a few years ago....
Vince was the most gracious and generous host! He put us up in the local Hampton Inn and took us out for some fresh fried shrimp and hushpuppies before we left.
I almost had a heart attack when our waitress told us they were out of hushpuppies. WHAT???!!! Out of HUSHPUPPIES???!!! They are a staple in North Carolina coastal restaurants and the one thing I was hankering for, my mouth had been watering at the thought for the past few days. Vince got quite a laugh out of our reaction...his prank worked! He'd told the waitress to tell us that. They had PLENTY of hushpuppies, and we ate to our hearts' content!
A week of making lots of memories and reconnecting with so many loved ones at our...