Chris’ younger brother joined the Marines after high school and, when he finished, never made his way back to Indianapolis. On the east coast, he found a new life, a wife, and a family so we don’t get to see him very often now.
In 2017, Mike and Kristin had their first child, a girl named Savannah.
Kids change the game.
Nothing makes the passage of time more apparent or in-your-face than kids growing. In the blink of an eye, they’re big. Ask me how I know this.
There are more Graham kids than just ours now, and we want those kids to know each other. So we headed east last week, and the other Grahams headed west, and we met in the hills of West Virginia for a long weekend of camping.
At night, we sat around the campfire. In the morning, we sat around the picnic table with coffee. In between we biked and walked and sidewalk-chalked and grilled and swam and floated and ice-creamed.
Savannah decided Harper was the bee’s knees and did everything she could to keep up.
Ellie looks like her daddy, and Savannah looks like her daddy so we compared their noses and cheeks and eyes. We marveled at how genetics work, and I told Kristin you have to wait until the second baby to get one that resembles you in the slightest.
West Virginia was hot so we escaped to the cold air conditioning of our camper, thankful for the extra space and the luxury. We spent the weekend covered in sand, sticky no matter how many showers we took, and happy.
The past twelve months have brought a lot of changes to Chris’ family. Graham kids started to say things they remember, things they’d like to forget. They started learning about each other and what they experienced–both together and separate–which has shaped them as adults. Adult children of alcoholics carry a weight with them.
And while it’s not my story to share, but I can tell you (with a million stories to back it up) that it takes just one person to stop hiding and that change becomes like dynamite, blowing up all the lies and denial and pretend-safety a whole family was operating in.
After Mike fulfilled his commitment to the military, he moved farther up the east coast. He had met a girl and wasn’t ready to come home just yet. I think, unintentionally, the decision to not come back to Indy saved him. Sometimes the best medicine is distance.
I’d say it is intriguing Mike and Chris both married strong, opinionated women. Kristin and I are alike in more ways than not. I’m sure psychologists wouldn’t call it intriguing, they’d call it stereotypical and then explain why it worked that way. I’m not smart enough to analyze it or, frankly, very interested in it. But it’s there: they married similar women.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the legacy we’re bringing these Graham babies into. But I’m also really hopeful. Cycles and secrets and shame only continue in the dark, in the shadows, in the enablers, and in the manipulators. But once it’s all been exposed, there’s space to start again.
So in the hills of West Virginia, on a hot, hot weekend in July, the Graham boys brought their wives and babies to a campground to talk about what went wrong, what went right, and what we do with it all. And I think—I pray—that’s what change starts with.
Details about our trip:
-We stayed at the Huntington-Fire Fox KOA in Milton, West Virginia. While I normally rave about KOAs, I was not impressed with this one and wouldn’t recommend you stay there. We were close to a small town, local restaurants, and a few cute ice cream shops, but the campground was kinda crappy. I’d stay somewhere else if you’re around Milton.
-We ate ice cream at The Twist in Milton, and it was perfect on a hot summer day. Most of the Yelp reviews were not favorable, but most complaints were about the time it took to get your food, not the actual food. So we chanced it, had a great experience, and would go back if we’re ever in the area again.
-Milton is also home to the Blenko Glass Company, and it’s definitely worth a visit. You can take a self-guided tour and watch the workers blow glass in a bazillion degree factory. It’s mesmorizing to watch and even though you think your face will melt off, I would go back again. The girls got glass souvenirs from their amazing showroom. You could drop some cash in that place. If you bring kids, make sure to take them to the register with you, they let the kids pick out a handful of marbles as a parting gift.
MAKE SURE YOU SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER! USE THE POPUP WINDOW OR THE BAR AT THE TOP OF YOUR SCREEN TO GET MONTHLY BOOK REVIEWS & SUGGESTIONS, SURPRISE GIVEAWAYS, SUBSCRIBER-ONLY POSTS, AND THE MONDAY BUSINESS MEETING EMAIL WITH ENCOURAGEMENT, NEWS, & FREE STUFF.