Before we left Ohio we had one last party to attend. The date had been set for months but we kept adding more and more reasons to party into the mix. The family gathered with all invited for the first time since July 3, 2020. And, because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t have to wear masks. We sat close and gave each other hugs to make up for the year of hugs we didn’t get.
We started with a worship service at Grove City United Methodist Church. My sister-in-law, Kathy Clymer, was retiring as Music Director after 17 years. Julia, Steve, and I led the congregation in a few songs to celebrate Kathy and our mom who lead us in song. We enjoyed singing together as always. After the service, the church had a cake and a reception with gifts for Kathy. It was attended by many choir members who were very appreciative of the years Kathy led the choir.
During the reception, Tom and brother-in-law Mike headed to Olive Garden to pick up some food while the rest of us decorated the Sunday School room where we would gather. The food arrived shortly after the reception ended and all of us dug in. I probably ordered twice as much food as we needed, but I wasn’t sure how many people were coming or how hungry they would be. Julia brought some beautiful and very yummy cupcakes.
All of Steve and Kathy’s family was there, except for their oldest son Joe who works second shift. My sister Julia picked up Mom and Dad and brought them down with her. Her husband, Mike, came up from Cincinnati after a weekend of helping his parents. All four Hartleys were present. We even had a couple of not-quite-family members there and we were happy to have them.
After filling up, we got down to the second party, Mom’s 85th birthday. Mom wore the birthday crown left over from her 80th birthday party and enjoyed cards and presents and songs. She can still run rings around most of us and we plan on being able to celebrate many more birthdays with her.
Sunday was Tom’s actual birthday, so he was part of our reason for partying. The following Saturday was Kathy’s birthday, so she was included in the “Happy Birthday” singing. Dad even got in on the partying by opening a Father’s Day present. After all the presents and cards were opened, we made sure everyone went home with a good supply of food.
The party broke up around 3 p.m. When you have that many people together, it is hard to keep them for long. We all headed back toward our homes, but our hearts were fortified by the time together. It was wonderful to all be together again after a year apart. We are looking forward to normal Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings later this year. In the meantime, we have pictures and memories to share.