I just returned from a road trip to West Tennessee with my oldest granddaughter. I made the same trip last summer with her older brother. I grew up in a very small town about 40 miles NE of Memphis. My brother and his family live in Memphis and I still have many old friends and other family members in the area.
We avoided interstates going up and back and so we saw more of the countryside of north Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and a small sliver of Georgia. We drove across the Mississippi into Arkansas so my granddaughter could also check that state off her “been to” list. She got to (i.e., had no choice) listen to 14 hours of classic rock on the trip up and 14 hours of classic country on the trip home. Some of the trip highlights were:
- Seeing my freshman dorm, which was an Army hospital during the Civil War, on the campus of Mississippi University for Women
- Touring Graceland and also seeing the new Elvis movie
- Watching the duck march at the Peabody Hotel
- Seeing my hometown and other highlights of my smalltown Southern childhood
- Visiting the site of the oldest continual family reunion in the United States (https://www.tnhomeandfarm.com/tn-living/taylors-of-tabernacle-kinfolk-camp-meeting-brownsville/)
- Strolling through the Pink Palace Museum, the main building of which is the former mansion of the founder of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores
- Getting reacquainted with cousins, swimming, bouldering, and playing extremely competitive games of Uno and Phase 10
When I tell people about these annual road trips, they all say how wonderful it is that I am making memories for my grandchildren. What they don’t understand is that these memories are as much for me as they are for the kids.
I want my time with my family and friends to be intentional. Not necessarily scripted or planned down to the second (which tends to be my nature). I want to be willing to take a detour to watch a train cross the Tennessee River. I want to eat ice cream right before we go to dinner at a landmark BBQ restaurant because it’s HOT in Memphis in July. I want to allow my 13-year-old granddaughter to stay up until 1 am playing cards with family members she gets to see, at most, once a year. I want to kiss her pretty red-haired head for jumping right up at 5:30 am and being in the car precisely at 6:00 ready to hit the road.
I don’t want to ever take family time for granted. Because, well, you never know . . .
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