It is no secret that growing up in the United Methodist Camps had a significant impact on my life. From the time I was 9 I have been attending camps as either a camper, counselor, nurse or dean. Last year was the first year I had not camped in 19 consecutive years. At 11 years old I would meet my husband to be (not realizing this of course until I was in college). We would also meet our best man and one of our groomsmen at camp. My side of the wedding party included 5 girls I didn't meet at camp but had all been there with me at one point or another. I met friends there that were the lifetime kind. These friends would pop up in my life as youth leaders, pastors, and co-workers, and finally family (and I am not talking about my husband either).
At 15 years old and about to enter my Sophomore year of high school I attended camp as usual. What I couldn't have know then was God's plan to bring a family into my life that would still be watching out for me 14 years later. It was truly meant to be when I met Mr. Insight (not his real name - but a fitting moniker) a counselor at camp who as it turns out only lived 8 houses away from me with his wife, Wonder Woman (not her real name - but one of the funniest, most talented women I know), and their infant, American Girl (gifted musician, brilliant and beautiful). They were reminiscing recently about how Mr Insight came home from camp that year and did the "I found a babysitter" dance. I went to work for them that fall usually logging two nights a week for the next two years. Oh how I loved their child. I loved them, their whole super family.
When news came up at the end of my Junior year that they would be moving to the East Coast I naturally looked for a university near by. For four years they would fund trips by train and later by car for me to come visit and babysit their now two children (Wonder Boy came along - known for his gift for gadgets and gab). I fondly remember long lazy weekends enjoying Connecticut seasons and scenery. I remember dancing with the children in their living room. I remember first haircuts and taking their then 4 year old to the mall for a "girls day". I remember manicures, lobster dinners, and the most fabulous baking you ever tasted by the funniest lady you ever met and her adorable assistants. I loved being on the East Coast and I loved having this family take care of me. I always felt like I was going home when I went to their house.
It was only natural for me to want their beautiful long haired American Girl as the flower girl in my wedding. Donning matching dresses American Girl and her American Girl made it to CA for my dream wedding. But not before her parents, as a wedding gift to Brian and I, gave us their Honda Accord. Gasp!! We had been driving my parents mini van and comparatively this was a very cool car. We felt truly blessed by this huge gift and would drive that car for the next 6 years (my dad is now using it as a commuter car).
Two summers ago we realized that they had moved to Austin and we were to be just an hour away at our family reunion. We couldn't leave the area without seeing these terrific people so we swung by to stay for less than 24 hours. In that time we, of course, fell in love with Austin and fell in love again with this family. It was clear TX was the place for us and of course we would spend the next year planning our move. With the help of their relocation expertise, house hunting skills and approval, and a few weekends putting us up in their guest room, we became Austinites - and part of their family - again.
Over the course of a year we would enjoy another set of grandparents (Mr Insight's parents - Grandma and Grandpa Dentist - not their real names), many holidays and meals together, two amazing "kid grown-ups" (as the kids refer to them) for my children to adore and look up to, knitting, crocheting, and quilting lessons, and the incredible generosity of this family. They would, during this time, give us a car - again, provide us with family far away from our own, make us laugh until we cried, cheer us on in our successes, and pray for us in our trials. I have not known more lovable people.
In an unforeseen job change (to the best job ever) this fantastic family is moving to Wisconsin. Don't worry, I am not following them - this time. They have helped us make Austin a home. But we will miss them terribly and have already begun to make plans to visit. We waved goodbye to them Saturday morning and managed to stave off tears until they were driving away for real. When Reba looked up at me and her little lip was puckered out and her chin started to quiver I felt myself let go too. Mr. Insight, Wonder Woman, American Girl, and Wonder Boy, we love you. Safe journey and thank you.