They found a small town in Ohio that had around 5,000 people. It was a good place where everyone knew everyone and they looked out for each other.
Luckily, that's where my parents settled and my brother and I had the best time growing up.
Looking back, one of my favorite things from home was that every year there was a festival. Everyone gathered around the town square where endless amounts of food, rides, games and fun, were all topped off with a huge parade. It marked the beginning of fall, acting almost as a Band-Aid for those of us in school who mourned the carefree days of Summer.
I still miss those days. It kills my soul that my kids don't have a hometown. We live in a great neighborhood, we love our church, love their school, but there's no true town square or hometown feel. I didn't know to appreciate how rare that was when I was a child.
Knowing that the festival was coming up, a sudden urge came over me to take the kids back home. Friday after work, I smiled as big as I could at my husband Adam. Shaking his head, he knew I was serious.
"You have lost your mind. You want to drive all the way to Ohio?"
"I really want to take them home. We can run up tomorrow, catch the parade at 6:00, let them ride rides and eat cotton candy, then shoot back in the morning."
"Shoot back in the morning."
"Yes! It will be fun!"
"Beatty, the boys start school on Monday. We need to get ready for that. We're in North Carolina. We can't go to Ohio. That's crazy."
I guess this is the part where I should mention that he's the analytical, responsible and rational one...and I'm...well, not.
Getting in the car on Saturday morning, Adam shot me a look and I knew exactly what it meant. I suddenly began to hope that my memories held true and the kids would have as much fun as I did growing up.
Shooting texts back and forth with my best friends from home and my Sister in law, it looked like everyone was going to meet at the parade. I crossed my fingers that Adam and the kids would enjoy it as much as I hoped they would.
The drive was actually a lot better than we had expected. The West Virginia mountains were beautiful and we found ourselves with our noses pressed against the windows as we drove through the clouds and the tunnels.
As we approached my hometown, excitement filled the car. The kids began to yell when they saw the tops of rides peeking over the roofs of buildings. Adam gave me an annoyed grin as he shook his head. We took a turn onto the first road that wasn't blocked off for the parade route and happened to see my best friend Sissy walking on the sidewalk.
Screaming, I jumped out of the car and she turned and screamed too. We ran and hugged each other laughing and carrying on.
Running back to the car, Adam's eyes were wide as Sissy and I jumped into the car.
Finding a spot to park, we found our other best friends Tricia and Amy. Their families were gathered together next to our old Jr. High and it was hard to believe how much their kids had grown. Mackenzie is Tricia's daughter and was the cutest flower girl for our wedding. This adorable little girl was now grown and beautiful. Amy's daughter Riley was a baby just a minute ago and now she was tall and gorgeous. It reminded me that time goes too quickly.
I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of relief that we did this. Seeing the two girls made me realize that in no time, my kids would be grown too.
Realizing that we hadn't found my brother David and his wife Heather yet, I couldn't wait to surprise the kids. We didn't tell them that their little cousins Charlie and Fiona would be there so I knew they were about to flip out. Turning the corner of the parade route towards our church, there they were. All six cousins saw each other and began jumping and giving hugs. They immediately got to work gathering candy being thrown at them from the parade.
The night was filled with family, friends, food and fun. The kids played games, rode rides and ate ridiculously delicious food.
Laughing and having the best time, I caught a glimpse of my husband. He looked towards me and whispered, "I don't know what I'd ever do without you."
I felt the exact same way. He is the best thing that ever happened to me.
The night was perfect and it was fun to take a break from the real world. Life is short and it's meant to be lived. You have to work hard but you also need to enjoy the good times too.
When it all comes down to it, faith, family, friends and love are really the only things that matter. It sure is nice to have a great place to call home and some cotton candy to sweeten the deal though. Until next year...