This past weekend, I flew up to Boston with one of my children.
The child ... who had kept their room the cleanest for the entire month of March!
That's my new mechanism of determining who should receive preferential treatment: Keep your room legitimately clean (i.e., clothes not thrown under the bed, or in to random drawers, or the bathtub behind a shower curtain), do your homework without us "reminding" you 10 times, don't instigate fights with your siblings, and you could be ON YOUR WAY to an awesome one-on-one adventure with one of your parents!
In June, I'll be taking another business trip to Puerto Rico, and since the children will be out of school for summer vacation, I'm contemplating bringing someone with me. I figure if I play my cards just right, I might get breakfast in bed and foot rubs every night for a month.
Oh, I kid.
(But just a little bit.)
So this past Saturday morning, my sweet Carolyn and I flew to Boston. When we arrived, Carolyn picked out our rental car, and we drove over to visit my Aunt Peggy - my father's youngest sister. After enjoying a beautiful spread of chocolate covered almonds, and grapes that Aunt Peggy had laid out for us, we walked over to the Museum of Science, which is directly across the street from where Aunt Peggy lives. We saw hilarious t-shirts, dinosaurs, turtles, and an IMAX on Jerusalem. Which Carolyn I both fell asleep midway through because we'd been up since 5 AM.
That evening, we drove back to the airport and picked up my mother and Aunt Grace, and cousin Lisa - and her beautiful daughters, Kathryn and Mary Elizabeth. The same Kathryn - who thankfully is doing so well - and is on the road to recovery (!!) thanks in large part to so many of the loving prayers that she received in abundance, and continues to receive, from people she may never have the opportunity to meet. (Thank you, thank you!!)
On Sunday we made our way to a surprise 90th birthday party for my Aunt Ann.
Now, if I have the sequence correct, Aunt Ann is the fifth of nine children born to my Nana (Margaret) and Grandpa (Francis) Coleman. Here's the count:
1. Francis - died at the age of six following a ruptured appendix
4. Carolyn - my Carolyn's name sake
5. Ann - husband Paul
6. Bobby - my Godfather (!)
7. Ray - Bobby's twin
8. Grace - 2nd mother to me; husband Bill; namesake to Carolyn GRACE
9. Mary - My beautiful mom
Four of my grandparent's surviving five children were present at Aunt Ann's party: Ann, Bobby, Grace and Mary. Uncle Ray and Aunt Ethel were physically in Florida - but were certainly with us in spirit!
My mom and her two sistahs...
My Aunt Ann is amazing ... she is the mother of eight children, and has sung at every Coleman family wedding, baptism, funeral, and related gathering that I can recall ... throughout my entire lifetime.
In 1967, Aunt Ann was working as a waitress at Boston Symphony Hall and was overheard singing by conductor Harry Ellis Dickson. Legend has it that Conductor Dickson convinced my Aunt Ann and her beautiful voice to join him on stage and lead the 2,500+ audience in song after song after song.
Such a HUGE hit my Aunt Ann was, that she was asked to make several more appearances alongside the Boston Pops. And so it is, Aunt Ann was famously dubbed "The Boston Pops Singing Waitress" and made it to the front page of the Boston Globe in 1967.
Last year - in September - her seven surviving children decided that they needed to throw a BIG party in honor of their mother's 90th birthday.
Over my lifetime, I've been to a lot of parties, but I've NEVER been to a party like this.
My cousins, Aunt Ann's children, hired a professional and they choreographed the entire event.
There was singing, and costumes, tambourines, and tap dancing ...
And a 17-year old grandson of Aunt Ann's flawlessly singing Ave Maria in Italian.
Across the eight children from my mother's family who survived to adulthood, they introduced 40 grandchildren to the family. I'm grandchild number 40. In this photo which captures only 1/2 of our maternal cousin count, I'm trying to make the sign of "40" but could only manage to raise one hand for fear that if I lifted the second hand, I'd lose my balance and face-plant.
Go-Go Irish Catholics!!
I laughed - and I cried - and I gave sincere thanks to be alive, part of this awesome clan, and present at this amazing event ... which was a perfect tribute to my beautiful Aunt Ann. Haywards, you have set the bar ... that is how it's done!
This is family ... and I'm so darn lucky to call these people mine.