Two days before leaving the country, we were able to attend my grandfather Gene's funeral in Murdo, SD. I was glad for the chance to be there and see all my family members. As with my grandma's funeral two years before, the gathering felt more like a celebration of life than a time of tears, although of course there was some of each. With all my aunts, uncles, and cousins milling around the hotel, sharing memories, snacking and playing games in the lobby, and splashing in the pool, it felt almost like a family reunion, with my grandpa and grandma in there somewhere, playing Scrabble perhaps or chatting in a quiet room on soft beds.
As a tribute to Eugene Field Thomas, photos covered tables, filled photo albums, and danced across computer screens.
Paul and John at the cemetery.
The casket, adorned with the prairie.
Game time in the lobby with Rebecca, Jenna, Misha, Josh E., Lori and Shannon.
My mom enjoying one more weekend with Sebastian.
Misha and Kathy hit it off.
Josh T., Joe, and Ralph.
Jenna and Sebby
Isaac and Misha
Gloria and Sebastian. Misha said, "Why do we sometimes call her 'Glo'?" I said it was because she can glow in the dark, but he didn't believe me.
Susan and me.
Josh K. and the boys.
Cousins: Jason, Josh T., me, Rebecca
We drove home from Murdo Sunday morning and packed everything up to be ready to go the next morning. That night, we had an early birthday celebration for Misha and Grandpa.
Happy birthday to you! His little birthday party made his last night quite special. Misha misses you a lot, Grandma and Grandpa, and you, too, Grandma Kate! He likes to look at the family photo album of everyone. The hardest part about moving to Saudi Arabia was separating the boys from their grandparents. We are lucky, however, to have the internet at our constant disposal. We have Wi-Fi in our hotel, so we can email, blog, Facebook, and even do webcam whenever we want. In Kyrgyzstan, we didn't even have a laptop, and we called or emailed from internet cafes. Quite a change!
Almost five years old.
Grandfather and grandson:
Earlier that week, I visited Misha's preschool for his last day there. He wore his suit and took me through his school day with him - from chicken patties for lunch to free play to pancake-making-day. At the end of the day he handed out little bags of prizes to his friends.
Free play with blocks and cars.
Pancakes - Misha's favorite! I'm glad he didn't miss that!
Other random photos from shortly before leaving:
Sebastian in Jackrabbit pj's.
The boys in the kitchen.
Misha playing diabolical-water-gun-squirting-Easter-bunny in the bath tub, complete with the pair of ears he made.
Misha wearing Pokey Little Puppy ears and feeding cheese puffs to Sebastian.
Naturally, it's just starting to get nice outside in Brookings. Go figure.
Sebastian liked to walk around outside and feel the grass.
Misha with the puppet-show stage we made from a Cheerios box. I told him we'll make another in Saudi Arabia. :) They have Honey Cheerios here, but I haven't seen the regular kind!