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I mean really, I still  haven’t finished the telling of our six-day road trip-journey-adventure to OHIO (Yes, Virginia you can have all that in Ohio). Virgil could have gotten Aeneas around the Mediterranean a dozen times and told about each one in the same amount of time. Geesh.

Without further ado, here’s the rest of our escapades.

We left our story with the dynamic duo arriving at Mary’s house welcomed by the four O-H-IO flamingos in the front yard, then ordering yummy Italian food and, finally, spending the evening watching a weird docudrama with Joan Collins’ telling her equally weird life story. The other entertainment, and much more interesting, was watching Lil Joe, the resident cat. explore his box.

Being that we only had three more days here and seven more siblings for Sue to meet and me to cherish being around live and in person, our days were carefully planned out, but definitely not inflexible. So Wednesday morning we headed out to cross one more thing off Sue’s must-gets-list and over to hang out with my sister Kate.

Kate is the only one of the twelve of us who can claim to have been an only child. If she wasn’t so wonderful, I’d be jealous. But she is full of laughter and stories of our mom and dad and hiding from landlords and loving all the little ones in her family even after she had six of her own. She showed Sue pictures of all her kids and grands and great grands. It is a huge number of people, many of whom I have never met.

But it was time for lunch. Never one to miss a lunch out, Mary came on down to Kate’s after her doctor’s appointment to join us. When I was little Mary and Nancy, my wonderful older sisters, would take their little sisses, me and Susie and Peg, shopping downtown and afterwards they would take us to lunch. This was a big deal. sometimes it was the counter of Woolworth’s with the pictures of unappetizing dinners over the counter. But other times, they splurged and took us to the restaurants on the upper floors of F & R Lazarus department store. We’d sit at a table, not the counter, and order dressing with gravy, my fav.

But, we must be off. The plan was to show Sue German Village where our Dad grew up and then of course, to have lunch.

I love to go visit German Village when I’m home. The brick streets and the little brick houses tucked close to one another takes me back to my year in Germany living in a little town that smelled of cows. My dad worked with his father, a builder, on some of these houses until his dad died and he, at age 16, went to work for the A&P, but that’s another story. As I recall, he always wanted a brick house but alas, that and the Cadillac never materialized.

Sue smiling for lunch

But, enough of that, we all needed to eat. And, if you’re in German Village well you’re not going to order pizza right? You need sauerkraut and bratwurst and schnitzel and spaetzel and other fattening delicious food. We decided on Schmidt’s Sausage Haus partly because they had a parking lot and we were just too hungry that we didn’t want to drive around and around.

Fed, and a bag of cream puffs for later, we went forth in search of the little brick house where my mom and dad lived and Kate was born — her year as an only child. I had been there once with mom and dad, but lost the picture so we had only Kate’s memory to go on — which is amazingly sharp for an 87 year old. The third time around the block, she was sure, absolutely that this little house was The One. We told her that there really should be a brass plaque on it or at least a banner announcing the site of her birthplace. It would have been a lot easier to find it if there was.

My mom told me one time that when she lived there and the baby (Kate) was asleep, she’d wait for the Ladies’ Home Journal to come in the mail and she’d go upstairs and lay on the bed and read the stories. I imagine it summer with the windows open and her garden blooming in the yard of this little house.

But there was more on the agenda for our Wednesday in Columbus. I really wanted to show Sue the Topiary behind the main library in downtown. The first time I saw it, it had just been planned and planted so it was more wire than bushes but now it’s all grown up.

It is a topiary of Georges Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”. It is truly a magical place. Mary and Kate waited on a bench in the shade while Sue and I went exploring in French just to set the mood. It was great fun and very hot — the Ladies on the grass would have been shocked.

George, Peg, me, Kate, Mary, Tom

To get the best out of our Wednesday, we stopped to say hey to Peg and George in their beautiful blue house. Peg is the youngest of us all, born on my mother’s birthday and one of the funniest, smartest women I know.

Bob, AKA Stark in his days behind bars

My “little” brother Tom came down with Bob — named after a canine character on Poirot.– his rescue dog who took over the cuteness in that backyard. But now it was time to get the ladies home. Sue confessed that it made her a tad nervous to have three of the Eyerman girls in the car at the same time. I don’t know whether that was because of fear of an accident or the conflicting directions she received from the back seat on where to go.

Thursday — Tour #3 — Downtown Columbus

One of the “Must Dos” on my list for Sue when we were in Columbus was to take one of Joe’s tours of downtown Columbus. He used to do it every day on his lunch hour when he worked down on Gay Street. Most times he met up with George and the two of them would walk. Now, they continued with the walks. Not every day, but once a week they take the Cleveland Avenue bus to downtown and walk for an hour or more.

We picked up George then went over to get Joe. Joe and Nance live in the house where we Eyermans have lived our whole lives. If I want to think of “Home” it would have to be that house. I can go in there and remember when I couldn’t reach the same doorknobs or had headfirst races with my sibs down the stairs or screamed as mom chased bats out of the upstairs. I took Sue on a short visit upstairs and she was surprised how 14 people lived in that space with one bathroom. But Joe our tour guide was ready to take us on another tour. So off we went with hugs to Nancy and a peek at the resident cats who were not impressed by our presence.

The one thing that stood out for me as a real difference in downtown Columbus wasn’t the new buildings but the amount of green space there was. Toronto could take a lesson from them. Everywhere on both sides of the river were parks and benches and flowing water. It was calm and beautiful. Places I remember from my childhood have been repurposed for museums or rebuilt. The old Veterans Memorial where I saw Ray Charles and Hello Dolly with Carol Channing has been torn down and replaced with a new strikingly impressive building surrounded by reclaimed land with native plants and, again, running water and benches.

By the end of the day we had walked six miles! We were mighty proud of ourselves. We made our way up to the OSU campus. The boys, toopooped for more walking, waited on a bench supervising a construction job while I gave Sue my tour of the campus. Problem was, there were a lot of new buildings and what I thought was The Oval was really not the Oval and thus made it a trick to find the boys again.

It was so changed I couldn’t really grab hold of those mostly sweet memories of working there after high school. We collected the boys and headed back to more familiar territory.

Friday — Lunch with the Whole Bunch

I feel so blessed that I got to see and talk to and laugh with all of my Columbus siblings. I didn’t get to see theneices and nephews and grands and greats, but they’re another trip sometime. I just wanted for Sue to meet the women and men who influenced me and loved me and showed me what caring was all about. And who have some of the best of the best sense of humours.

Thanks to Mary organizing lunch for us all in a place that was easy for everyone to get to, everyone showed up even my brother Steve who lives the farthest out of town and probably hadn’t seen anyone for about as long as I hadn’t. Even Trish, my brother Mike’s widow, came. I was so overwhelmed by just sitting at that table and looking around, I didn’t even mingle or suggest we take a family pic. Oh well, they’re in my heart which is better than a pic.

Saturday Homeward Bound

I think this was the best visit I ever had to Columbus — not that the others were bad but this one was superlative. I think it was my introvert’s dream family visit. I could talk one-to-one with folks. Maybe it’s that we’re older and that we’ve been zooming for two years or is it three, so we’re more familiar of what’s what in our lives.

Mary, in pjs that sort of match her tablecloth and Nancy having tea and rolls

Nancy and Joe came over to say a goodbye. It made me incredibly happy because I hadn’t properly said goodbye to them at the luncheon. A final gift maybe. I think I can speak for Sue that her wish to meet my Columbus sibs was fulfilled for her too.

There was one last thing on Sue’s list to do before we crossed the border to Canada. She wanted grits at a Country Kitchen. She found one sort of on our way north in Rootstown, Ohio. It was truly an American experience right down to having to pass through the general store gift shop while waiting for a table. But grits were on the menu along with other high caloric entries. This was our only pit stop to eat before home so we imbibed in all the goodness they offered — especially the grit

We meandered through out back roads again through Ohio and made a stretch the legs stop in Jamestown New York whose claim to fame is as the birthplace of Lucille Ball. She has her own museum which we passed over, another gift shop, of course. The most interesting fact was that she also chose to be buried in Jamestown — we were told that there is a path of hearts leading to her grave.

We made it to and through the border with no delays only to be slowed down to a crawl by unexpected Saturday evening traffic. As Sue said, “This traffic is just stupid.” Amen. But we eventually made it home. It was a little let down to me after having so many folks around but Rose had lots to say about the indignity of being left for five days for goodness sake.

Note from author: I may have gotten days mixed up and apologies for not putting pictures in of the luncheon but they were not cooperating and I was ready to end. Thanks.

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