Saturday we went to Grandpa Heath’s 80th Birthday surprise party. It was awesome because he has relatives all over the country who were able to make it, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and even Hawaii. It’s very rare that they all get together in one place and its even more rare that he doesn’t know its happening. You could see the joy on his face as he entered the door and saw all these family members from distance places. I’ve met most of the immediate family (Rachel’s uncles and aunts) but there were several that I hadn’t and lots of cousins that I had not met before.
I had the chance to meet Rachel’s uncle Brian, for the first time, who lives in Texas with his wife Carolyn and daughter Kristin. I’m very glad I did, They’re neat people and we got to spend even more time with them on Sunday. Brian owns a paint contracting business near Dallas/Ft Worth. I offered to let him stay busy painting our dining room while they were in town but he declined. C’mon man we’re family now!
I had the pleasure of meeting two more distant relatives, Rachel’s father’s nephews, Matt and Dan. Matt has a house in Hawaii and offered to let us stay (although he assured us he would not guide us around, he draws the line there) the next time we go. That’s fine Matt, we’ll be happy to hire a tour guide with the money we saved staying with you! As it turns out Dan is very much into Genealogy and we got talking about Rachel’s family tree. Apparently he has traced their tree back to a revolutionary war soldier. That means Rachel can join the daughters of the revolution! Not quite sure what that gets her besides a plaque and probably a lot of junk mail though… We traded E-mail addresses and Dan agreed to send us the tree, I agreed to get it into Geni which I’m trying to get all our family to use and I strongly recommend it for those of you who haven’t yet.
I was also able to see some relatives whom I’d met before but hadn’t seen in a while. Among these was Rachel’s cousin Becky, who was pregnant with her second child, Cheyenne, the last time I had met her. This time around she had the third child, Desmond, with her. They were very energetic which meant they probably slept like a log that night and I’m sure Becky is thankful for that.
Towards the end of the day Grandpa Heath opened all of his wonderful gifts and Matt, whom I had met earlier, presented Him with an American Flag which had been ceremoniously flown over the USS Arizona memorial in his name on September 11, 2007. It also came with a plaque with a military seal providing documentation that it was indeed flown over the memorial in his name at the time and date noted. It was all very moving because Grandpa Heath long ago served in the Navy during World War II until his responsibilities at home had called him back. The USS Arizona memorial had always held a special place in his heart but he hasn’t yet had the chance to visit it. I’m sure the flag and plaque will be long remembered by him as well as the rest of his family who was there to witness the gift.
A great event and I wish there were more like it.