Sunday, October 07, 2007

Trip Wrap Up

I cannot imagine the trip with family being any better than it was. We arrived a couple days before everyone else so I was able to spend great one on one quality time with Billy and his family and with Shirley and family.

Now let's continue from where I left off from day one.... On Friday we were able to sleep in a bit and start the day a little later than the day before. Billy's kids went to school and Trey made it to work so Jacki, Darian and I got to hang with Billy most of the day. We looked through photo albums and shared with him some of the pictures I had posted online from out last trip out there in 2002. Later in the day Jacki and I made it to De Queen to do a Walmart run. This was the first time I had driven un-aided into De Queen so it felt like a minor accomplishment.

Friday evening Billy grilled chicken, sausage and burgers. I don't know what Carly and Darian put on the burgers but they were fantastic. We had a great time eating with the kids and I was able to meet one of Billy's half-sisters, Tina, and her family. We got to talking and quickly found out both of us were at the same high school in Houston. She was a senior the year I was a freshman. Although we aren't blood related I felt like I met a new sister for the first time. Darian affectionately called her my quarter sister. Haha

At one point Earl, my grandfather's brother, showed up at Billy's unexpected asking for directions to Shirley's. He looks just like my great grandfather. Lisa and Jeff arrived and were able to join us for the end of dinner. They were staying in Texarkana so we took them down to Shirley's before it got too late. As Jacki, Lisa and Jeff visited with Shirley and Kristy I kept Katie occupied. She read me one of her Spongebob books and we chilled on the couch.

We got back to Billy's and Lisa and Jeff headed to Texarkana. And this is where the fun began. As we walk into Billy's he and Tina are sitting in front of the tv singing karaoke. Billy did a stunning rendition of Stand By Your Man which was hilarious. He had all of us on the floor laughing. Carly and Tina even did a duet together.

That night Tina, Jacki, Billy and myself end up talking for a couple of hours out on the front driveway. It felt great to really connect to Billy and will be one of those nights of visiting you'll never forget.

The next morning I got a call from Lisa right when I woke up. Their car's battery was dead so I drove down to Texarkana to pick her up. Not often that I get one on one time with Lisa. We grabbed an early lunch at Popeye's, talked to Mom on the phone to catch her up on the activities, and headed back to Horatio. We talked about ma-maw and pa on the way back and talked about the great times we had at Shirley's when we were growing up. You can't go wrong with video games and a hot tub.

A group of us headed over to Shirley's to visit with everyone. Lisa brought a painting Kristy did for me when I was a child. Now we are giving it to Katie. One of Billy's friends I hadn't seen in probably 20 years was there so I got to listen to him and Billy tell hunting stories with my Uncle Earl from Louisiana. Kristy prepared a great lunch with chicken, turkey and some seafood gumbo. Right as we finishing our plates my Dad and Rose arrived. We weren't sure they were going to make it so it was great to have so much of the family together.

I was taking people back and forth between Shirley's and Billy's. On one of the trips Carly and her boyfriend Craig rode ahead of us on a 4 wheeler. Craig has no fear and had been popping wheelies on the 4 wheeler the day before. After he dropped off Carly he was riding back towards us and was riding the wheelie like he was the day before. Then all of a sudden the bike got to upright and he flipped off to his left and the bike went off to his right. As we slowed down to help he jumped up off the ground, flipped the bike over, and gave us the thumbs up like he was ok. About 30 seconds later we got to the house and he was hurting. He ripped up his knee bad. He ended up at a Texarkana emergency room with 11 stitches.

After we saw Craig off to the hospital a few of us headed back to Shirley's. Once at Shirley's we spent the remainder of the evening sitting on the porch talking and telling stories. Another one of Billy's friends, Lawrence, also came over. Once the end of the night came it was hard to say bye to Shirley. When we talked alone Thursday night I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to do or see and she told me she would like to see Niagra Falls. When she hugged me as we were leaving she told me that maybe she will take that trip to Niagra Falls after all.

Jacki and I headed back to Billy's and got to say bye to the kids. Dad and Rose came by for a few minutes. We got a few pictures with everyone and then they left back to Texarkana for the night. After they left Tina and her husband Bobby came over to see us out. She brought over our old Lamar yearbook and we were able to confirm we were there at the same time. We got in some laughs about the big 80s hair as well as how goofy I looked.

The journey back was harder than I thought it would be. We left Arkansas about 12:30am and got to DFW a little after 4am. Along the way I had to stop a couple of times for my eyes to rest. Jacki was great and stayed up with me the entire time.

It would be great to get Billy and kids out to LA at some point. We are hoping Trey gets to come out to LA in the near future to check out some of the music scene and to hang with Darian. It was pretty remarkable how similar their taste in music was and how well they got along. For now I leave you with many of the pictures we took. For me this trip will hold some great memories and we can't wait to get back to see everybody again.

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