I had a hard time getting back to sleep and I was wondering if I'd just made the stupidest decision of my life to drag my family out to this reunion. No question, I was pretty discouraged.
Sometimes I think the universe needs a reminder to go easy on us. If so, it got one because things started to go much better.
When everyone woke up, Nathan was actually excited about going to the reunion brunch for pancakes with Avi. We decided to let Alex rest at the hotel with Shelby. If he could keep some food down and seemed recovered, we'd go ahead with plans for the rest of the day.
At the community center, Nathan spotted the World's Largest Dinosaur and insisted on going up into the mouth. It was the first time he was actually excited about doing something in Drumheller. We dropped our plans to head in to breakfast and went up the dinosaur instead. When your children hand you a golden opportunity, take it!
We had a good breakfast (thank god there were actually pancakes) and a good visit. We sat in the back, away from most of the gatherings. People had to come visit us but Nathan was much more comfortable without a ton of chattering people surrounding him. I don't think anyone minded too badly.
After breakfast, we checked in with Alex, who seemed to be doing much better. We decided to forge ahead with our plan to drive into Calgary and visit Heritage Park, a 1930s recreation town, then have dinner at Grandma's before heading back to the hotel to pack for the flight home.
The boys really liked Heritage Park, especially the steam train which ferries people around the village.
We didn't see much of the village itself. The boys got captured by the old-fashioned midway. We had been worried the site would be a zoo with vacationing families but we were late enough in the day (and close enough to closing) that more people were headed home than coming in. We didn't have to wait for any of the rides, so the boys got their fill. Even Alex tried going on a few.
After that, it was off to Grandma's for dinner. Her bungalow is exactly the same as I remember it from when I was Nathan's age. As a military family, we rarely spent more than two years living in the same house. Grandma's was a comforting touchstone of consistency, someplace that could be counted on to stay the same. It gave me a real thrill to see my boys playing in the same basement I played in, with many of the same toys from her Humpty-Dumpty toychest. Nathan also loved it, as you can see from the picture.
The day ended with a family photo of the immediate family and it was a great feeling to be surrounded by blood-bound affection. I've joked that our family is a black hole. We pull people in but no one ever manages to quite leave.
Maybe it's because I don't have the usual rooted connection to a family home but to me, my family is my home. This is the network of people who care about us and who can be counted on for help when we need it, even if we don't realize it. These are the people who sent the excited buzz of Alex eating pizza around the world. They care and I'm proud to be a part of it.