Our Pennsylvania Family Network

Hello again; this is Matt bringing you this blog entry.  It’s been awhile since I’ve written; this time, I have a solo experience to report.  Interestingly, even though I’m writing about my trip to Pennsylvania on own, I think this blog post is really about Ryan.

I recently traveled to Pennsylvania for my cousin’s son’s high school graduation party (I think that makes him my first cousin, once removed).  Ryan and I had both been planning to go; the week before is when our dog Darwin’s health deteriorated, and we felt that someone should stay home.  So Ryan stayed home to look after the dogs, and I drove to Pennsylvania by myself.

It may be cliché, but since we’ve been married, Ryan and I have rarely been apart.  In the past 5 years, maybe we have been away from each other three or four times?  I think there was a funeral, maybe a writing retreat, and once when we sent Ryan to the beach to recoup from surgery.  In any case, this time apart was neither planned nor intentional.  That said, we do miss each other when we’re apart; at the same time we are still each our own person and can function fine.

I digress.

Oh yes… I drove to southwestern Pennsylvania for my cousin David’s high school graduation party.  Ryan and I regularly get invites to spend time with that part of the family.  Thanksgiving is the big event with them (which is already written about on this blog); we get our invitations months in advance, and they are always happy to have us there… always.

So without Ryan with me, everyone I interacted with in Pennsylvania (and I mean everyone) wanted to know how he was doing, expressed how they missed him being there, and was genuinely sad that he couldn’t make it.  From my parents, to my sister and her fiancé, my aunts, my cousins, family friends, family of family friends… everyone that knows Ryan asked about him.

I digress again.

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The party itself was good.  After a squished car ride from Latrobe to Pittsburgh (which, though cramped, was still ridiculously fun), we had a DJ, a life-size cardboard cutout of the grad, catered food, M&Ms with David’s face printed on them, and more.

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In addition to the normal Pennsylvania crew, my cousin Alex was able to make it to the party.  It’s always great to see Alex, and it’s really incredible to have all of the family together in one spot.  Myself, Alex, Jane (the grad’s mom), and my sister Becca are all first cousins.  We are the grandkids of my mom’s parents; while our ages span a couple of decades, we are all the same generation of descendants in our family.  We were the first generation on my mom’s side that went to college; and there we were, celebrating the next generation moving on from high school.

There was a random moment where the four of us happened to sit down next to each other; having all four of us in one place is a rare occurrence, and it was a great photo opportunity.

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When I could, I sent photos and commentary back to Ryan, and he sent his regards through me to the others (and I think he had some background text conversations with my sister’s fiancé… which is becoming more and more common).  So while he wasn’t physically there, Ryan was definitely present in all other ways.  In my goddaughter Lauren’s words, “ Ryan is the life of the party!”

So I know this post was supposed to be about my trip to Pennsylvania and the party, but the biggest point I need to share on this blog is that all of “my” family treated my absentee husband as their family, too.  So with my Pennsylvania relations, they are OUR family, and they continually show the willingness and genuine happiness at keeping both Ryan and I a part of their lives.

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