Monday, September 19, 2011

Family ReFLUnion

For the first time in nine years my mother-in-law’s extended family reunited last month.  30 people under two roofs for seven days in Springville, Utah (a last minute location change from campgrounds in Sun Valley, Idaho).  It was supposed to be a week full of stuff like this:

DSC_0244Instead, it was a week dominated by this:
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Everybody got sick.  When I say everybody I mean EVERYbody.  When we made the above chart five people were still going strong, but by the end the Terrible Awful Flu (which turned out to be the Norovirus) beat EVERYBODY.  Except 10 year old Deacon.  We don’t know how he did it, and we all covet his immune system.  This Terrible Awful was just that.  I’ll spare you the disgusting details, but tell you all the crippling ones.  This thing was so highly contagious and moved so quickly, 90% of the family was down by Thursday.  The other 10% consisted of those who’d already had it and were on the up swing and Deacon, The Immortal One.  Harley’s grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party, complete with a magician and balloon artist, had to be cancelled.

DSC_0412The cake that never got eaten.

The Terrible Awful didn’t just ruin an anniversary party.  It was so destructive it ended the entire reunion two days early, changed departure plans, caused people to miss flights and sent one cousin to Urgent Care.  Guess who brought the Terrible Awful to the party?  We did.  How terrible awful do we feel?

Anderson got it first, the week before, while I was in Cody.  My poor mom had to clean it up out of her brand new car, then off my aunt's couch.  Max caught it five days later.  I was throwing up 48 hours after that.  I’ll go ahead and tell you now that when I get the stomach flu I get a bit dramatic.  Like, lying half-naked on the bathroom floor asking my mom if I’m going to die, kind of dramatic.  Her response, by the way: “Yeah, but not tonight.”  It probably has something to do with the fact (that I’m a drama queen) that I’ve only thrown up twice since 1990.  That’s right, two times in 21 years.  Both times have been in the last two years, and both times I have been away from home and without Harley.  He has yet to see this most extreme and highly sexy show in my repertoire.  Maybe we should keep it that way.  Anyway, we thought the Terrible Awful was over, except for those few lucky duck cousins and sisters on my side of the family who fell victim after me, but then Harley arrived in Utah, somehow caught it and unknowingly brought it to the reunion where it reared its dirty little head on day 2.  Relatives of all ages were not impressed with Harley, you know the guy who’s supposed to be studying virology and immunology.

DSC_0187 Poor Dalen got sick around 3:00AM.  Harley had to clean it up.  Guess that’s our punishment.

Other than living on top of each other (and some of us had never met) while feeling like death and hugging toilets, it was great!  I’m being serious.  We had some wonderful, healthy moments.

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 Jan Hellewell (Harley’s grandma) with her sister Bonnie Kay and two daughters, Lynda and Debby.  These ladies crack each other up and it’s fun to watch.

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We spent a morning at BYU.  (Side note, the Bean Life Science Museum is awesome for kids!)  We ate at the Cougareat, which is always a highlight for me because not only do I get to indulge in all my favorite BYU treats (hello L&T wraps, chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Rice Krispie treats the size of my head), but I get to reminisce the glory days.  And we always run into someone we know.  This time just as I was saying to my brother-in-law, “It’s official.  I’m too old.  This will be the time we won’t run into anyone,” I see two girls waving at me.  Well, sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln!  It was Jen & Tami from my freshman ward.

DSC_0221 Maybe you can see it on my face, but this wasn’t just any run-in.  This run-in had can’t-believe-this crazy all over it.  Tami and I have kept in touch over the years (we actually know each other from our City of Joseph Pageant days in Nauvoo Illinois, long before freshman year), but I hadn’t seen her for, what, six years?  She had been living in Ohio and was about to move to Maryland, of all places.  In fact, she and her family had stayed at my house in Gaithersburg the week before while house hunting!  I was already west so sadly, I missed her.  I had no idea she was headed to Utah next.  She and Jen were driving back from southern Utah after a reunion with their freshman floor girlfriends, kind of like the ones I have.  That day was not our family reunion’s originally scheduled BYU day, but there we were and there they were.  All just dropping in for Cougar grub at the same time on the same day.  I don’t see Tami in my own house in MD, but I run into her on BYU campus in UT.  Makes sense.

My favorite activity of the family reunion was our Scenic Lift Ride at Sundance.  I forget what a gem Sundance is.  It had been too long since I’d been there without snow on the ground and wow, it’s just beautiful.  The whole family piled on a dozen ski lifts and enjoyed the most peaceful, lovely view of the backside of Timp.

IMG_0340  IMG_0343 IMG_0336Anderson riding with Grandma & Jeddie. You can’t see it but Jeddie was pumping him full of Mountain Dew. He turned back mid-ride and shouted to us, “Mom, I’m drinking Mountain Dew! Is Jeddie busted?” When we told him yes, he said, “Ah man. Sorry Jeddie, you’re busted.” Then he kicked it back again.

It’s a good thing I didn’t really comprehend what we were doing until we were 50+ feet in the air with a measly metal bar and gaping spaces separating Max from my lap and Max from the rocky mountain.  Normally Max would have been a squirm worm giving me a killer workout trying to wrestle him to safety.  Instead, he was very docile and sat perfectly still.  This was thanks to exhaustion after the all-nighter he’d pulled.  Seriously, the kid went down at 5:30am.  At one point, to avoid waking up the whole house, we threw him in the car and drove around Provo for three hours begging him to fall asleep, which he never did.  We’d never pulled that parenting trick.  Good to know it doesn’t work.

IMG_0349Oh sweet Max.  His sleep shenanigans were in full force every night that week.  Maybe Jeddie spiked his sippy cup…

Despite sickness, very little sleep and a good dose of drama no family reunion would be complete without, we really did have a good time.  It’s all props to the peeps.  The Hellewells just keep it moving, keep ‘em laughing and keep it low-key.  It’s like the HELLEWELL family motto is:  “Hell!  Oh well.” 

The more I think about it, my true favorite activity was the late nights spent talking (and crying) with Katie (SIL) and Debby (MIL).  I love those women.

I love them all.

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4 comments:

Crystal said...

Sorry about all the sickies.... and more sorry you missed Sun Valley. It is one of our favorite places, we go every year and Kate tells us she would rather go there than Disneyland. If you can't though there though Sundance is kind of a mini version I guess.

Ali Snow said...

Ahh - the terrible awful. Good times. Glad you had fun at the reunion and you love your in-laws so much. And, I'm extra glad we got to see you.

Ming said...

What a major bummer!!! The throw ups are THE WORST!!! You know you're starting a reputation for yourself of getting people sick when you visit them. ;)

I'm glad you had some good times amidst the not so good ones. Your inlaws are the best. It's so nice when you love your inlaws like they're your own. :)

anna banana said...

Wow have to say I am really grateful that the flu started after you were with me. Sounds awful!

Sundance looked gorgeous though and I will have to add that to my list of things I want to do...