Tuesday, October 30, 2018

First the Coal Mine, Then the Family!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I could sleep in almost any condition, in any place. Since my leukemia diagnosis, seven-plus years ago, that has not been the case. Sleep often alludes me, mostly due to feeling crappy from my meds. BUT, last night I slept great; it was cold in the room, and our maintenance guy brought me a nice heavy comforter, coupled with the fact that  I was exhausted,  I was out like a baby. Perfect sleeping conditions; I was so rested and grateful! lol (I am guessing that I would be a perfect candidate for one of those weighted blankets. Have you ever tried one?)

Anyway, today the plan was to meet the family at 1 pm, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that time was pushed until 4:30 pm, which left us with a few hours to explore.

We decided that we had time to visit the Lackawanna Coal Mine, a place that I had been to decades ago, but Joe had never been. The tour was both fascinating, and disturbing. Going deep down into the earth, (300 feet) where coal was mined until 1966, gave me a feeling of utter despair. I can hardly even wrap my head around what it must have been like to mine coal for a living, a very meager living at best; day after day, week after week, year after year.

It was cold, dank, dark and depressing, not to mention the element of danger that miners faced every single day. Many men and small children worked for as little as 8 cents an hour; I cannot even imagine their life.

The Lackawanna Coal Mine opened in 1860 and is the largest of four coal fields in Pennsylvania. It is this mine that put Scranton on the map, as many Europeans immigrated to the area to work in the mines.

The tour was educational, fascinating, and a little, tiny bit scary;  however, I will admit that it was not as scary as some of the cave tours, that we have done.

Coal mining was not for the faint at heart.

After the coal mine, we headed over to visit with family. I have not seen this part of my family in many decades, and was so, so excited. While I was born in Scranton, I did not live there very long. My family led a bit of a  "gypsy" lifestyle; we were the ones that moved away, and continued to move, and move and move!

The upside to this lifestyle is that it helped me to develop tolerance and adaptability, it built my character and strength, increased my sense of wonder and allowed me to experience many different cultures, right here in the United States. What it did not do, was allow me to remain close to my extended family.

I often envy those who have generations of family, still living close enough together to gather frequently. I miss having "the village" and am saddened that my children did not grow up knowing their relatives.

Most of my family remained in the northeast, so the further we moved away, the less I saw of them. Since it was my mother's dream to visit "home", before she passed away, I knew it was something that I must do. It was in my heart, as much as it was in hers to reconnect and feel the love, up close and personal.

Pulling up to my aunt's house, the first thing I saw was her.....waiting at the door for us to come in. It warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Walking up to the door of her home felt just like it did, so many years ago, when I was a small child.

She still lives in the same house; it was like going back in time. I remembered every little nook and cranny and even noticed that the swimming pool that was no longer there.

(My aunt is technically my mother's aunt. My dear nanny's sister; wonder why I love her so?)

It was so fascinating watching her; she had so many of the same mannerisms as my mother, and they look so much alike. I have been told that I fit into that category as well, and that is fine by me! Two of my relatives commented that they would have known me anywhere, as I looked just like my mother! lol

Our welcome could not have been warmer, and our visit could not have been sweeter; even though we are all grown up now, our roots and history are still connected. We had the best time sharing stories, new and old, and looking through photos from long ago.

I was so happy and appreciative that my cousins and their families were able to be there to visit, share memories and stories, and catch up on years past. Reconnecting with family is priceless!
Oh, and Old Forge pizza is the bomb, and so is the sausage and pepper dish that my cousin made!

My heart is full.....thanks, guys!

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#chronicillness  #bebrave  #chronicmylogenousleukemia  #Bosulif  #leukemia  #lovemylife  #cml #travellingwithcancer #family #familypriceless

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