After a restful sleep and faithful completion of my two hundred Ohio pushups, I enjoyed a short and beautiful drive from Harrison State Forest to the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When I arrived in the little town of Murrysville, my Great-Aunt Mary welcomed me warmly into her cozy apartment.
My first evening with Aunt Mary (I don’t call her Great-Aunt Mary because it sounds strange to me — and to her) was spent in conversation. We had a lot of catching up to do. The first (and only) time we met previously was about fifteen years ago when my family flew out for a week-long visit. I still remember two things from that visit: a delectable lunch of pigs-in-a-blanket and an afternoon snack of gummy bears that brought unspeakable joy to
On the first full day of my visit (Saturday, October 7th), I got to visit with Aunt Mary’s son, Kevin. We began the day lazily by watching a movie. After that, Kevin wanted to make sure I got the full Pennsylvania experience. The first stop was a shooting range where we shot several of his pistols. In his opinion, I did very well for a California city boy.
Next, we drove to a neighboring city to visit Jamie and Kim, who are two of Kevin’s best friends. I got to watch Jamie cut up a deer he had shot the previous day and enjoy a tour of their house, which included quite a few guns and a couple hunting crossbows as well.
A few hours of visiting later, we were all a little hungry. Kevin and I went to a popular local pizza shop to pick up a pizza and some local beer, which we brought back to Jamie and Kim’s house. We ate dinner outside in their beautiful backyard. It was such a nice evening that I forgot to take a picture of the scenery.
So that was Kevin’s version of the Pennsylvania experience. I loved every minute of it! Aunt Mary promised me another tour on Monday. First, though, came Sunday. I joined Aunt Mary at the Presbyterian church she attends and enjoyed the Sunday School and sermon. She introduced me to the pastor and her friends. It was fun to be the “great-nephew from California.” I almost felt like a celebrity.
After church, we had a relaxing day at Aunt Mary’s apartment. I gladly joined her in the weekly tradition of having a homemade milkshake for an
The next morning, Aunt Mary began her tour by giving me my first full view of the big city — Pittsburgh — from the little hill that somehow obtained the official name of Mount Washington.
After enjoying the view, we circled back to a different part of the suburbs so that Aunt Mary could give me a lesson in our family history. As I have met previously unknown relatives on this trip, I have been constructing a family tree to make sense of it all. Our first stop at the family cemetery gave me a very tangible experience of that tree’s roots.
This side of my family (my mom’s dad’s family) established themselves in Pennsylvania a long time ago and didn’t budge for the most part. My great-great-grandfather was born in the late
Our next stop on the tour was even closer to home for me. Aunt Mary took me to the house my mom lived in for the first twelve years of her life and the elementary school she attended.
We saw much more on the trip as well: the Assemblies of God church my mom attended as a
Our last stop on the tour brought us back to the present. We visited one of Aunt Mary’s grandchildren at the creatively labeled salon where he works; Hairy Solutions. I appreciated the name because I had a very hairy problem to solve. My hair has been growing out for two months now and I’ve been feeling rather unkempt over the past week or two. Steven took care of
That is about all the excitement I’ve had in these first few days in Pennsylvania. I have had a few spare moments to discover and visit a nearby basketball court twice to get some exercise. It is relaxing to stay in a single location for a while. I am looking forward to the rest of my visit and I hope it doesn’t go too fast.