Ryan and I arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the early afternoon on Friday. Our drive up from North Carolina was seamless and absolutely gorgeous. We drove through Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland and commented on the lush greenery and breathtaking mountain views at least a dozen times. It was stunning!
My mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law were waiting for us at the adorable house we rented for the weekend. I found a charming three-bedroom house on VRBO.com last week and had a feeling it would be the perfect place for all of us to stay this weekend as we came together to celebrate my grandmother’s life.
The farmhouse, located on the southern end of the Gettysburg battlefield, was originally built in 1799. It has been fully restored and the owners did an amazing job filling the home with antiques and other features that gave the place so much character. My family and I could not have been more pleased with this house and I highly recommend it as a great place to stay for anyone looking to visit the Gettysburg area.
After our arrival, Ryan and I quickly unpacked before joining Leslie and Ross for a brief tour of the Gettysburg battlefield while my mom and dad met up with my aunt and uncle at the church where my grandma’s memorial service was scheduled to take place the following morning.
Longtime readers already know how much I love Gettysburg. My mom and dad grew up in the small historic town and both of my grandmothers lived in Gettysburg for years. This was our first time in Gettysburg with our husbands and Leslie and I wanted to be sure they got a glimpse into the rich history of the area. By the end of our trip, both Ryan and Ross said they could absolutely understand why we love Gettysburg so much!
Unfortunately the pain I am experiencing in my left hip/glute/lower back continued to inhibit my ability to walk around too much, so we did our best to explore by car and kept walking to a minimum which was a bit of a bummer, but also very necessary for me right now. We were able to look out over the battlefield at the peak of Little Round Top and also stopped by Devil’s Den. We lucked out with the sunshine since the morning was apparently quite dreary.
After our time on the battlefield, we took the guys into town for a late lunch at Ernie’s Texas Lunch. My family and I always make it a point to grab lunch from Ernie’s when we are in town and since Ryan and Ross have heard all of us rave about their chili dogs for years, they were more than game to grab some food from Ernie’s for a late afternoon pick-me-up.
With full bellies, we made our way back to the farmhouse and met up with my parents to visit my grandma, Nana, at her home in Fayetteville. It was so great to spend some quality time with Nana and she absolutely lit up when arrived and greeted her with her favorite chocolates. My dad and I joked that there’s no doubt where we got our sweet tooth from because Nana’s affinity for chocolate is rivaled by none!
Our dinner plans took our group to Dave and Jane’s, a family-run restaurant that serves the most delicious hard shell crabs on the planet. They get their crabs from the Chesapeake Bay area and season them perfectly. We all toasted to Mimi before digging into a hard shell crab feast! My grandma was as big of a fan of hard shells as anyone and I know she would’ve loved sitting there with us, cracking open crabs on the long table topped with newspaper.
Once we were done with dinner, we drove back home and dug into whoopie pies for dessert while celebrating my sister’s birthday at the kitchen table before heading off to bed.
Remembering and Celebrating Mimi
Saturday was an emotional day but also a healing and joyful one as we all gathered to remember my grandmother and celebrate her life. There were plenty of tears and overwhelming sadness bubbled up inside me a number of times, but there was also a lot of laughter and so much love and support.
My grandmother had so many people come to St. James Lutheran Church to honor her and attend her memorial service. She was such a social person with so many close friends and it brought me so much joy to speak with people who have known and loved Mimi for years. Many of them offered hugs and condolences along with stories about my grandma that made me laugh and filled me with pride. Almost everyone I spoke to talked about how much she loved her family and how excited she was to become a great grandmother.
The service was beautiful and my Aunt Laurie spoke about her mother with such poise, strength and love. She moved me to tears at the end of her speech when she said she pictured Mimi entering heaven the exact same way she reacted to the news she was going to be a great grandmother: Hands shooting up high in the air and an excited squeal coming from her lips!
After the service and burial at Evergreen Cemetery, we returned to the church for lunch and continued the celebration of Mimi’s life. Many of Mimi’s friends and family stayed to dine together and share more stories. It was very cathartic and special and I was especially touched by a speech Ryan gave about my grandmother. It meant a lot to me to hear my husband speak so highly of Mimi, especially since I know she loved “her guys” very much.
A little before 3 p.m., everything came to an end, but Mimi’s close family came back to the farmhouse we rented to spend more time together.
I’m so, so glad we were able to spend the entire day with my extended family and I know Mimi would have thought the whole day was perfect.
Mimi, we love you and miss you. Your memory lives on in the hearts of many!