We made the journey to Richmond today. That’s where I grew up and where most of my family lives.
Yes, the autumn leaves made the drive beautiful on a sunny, 60-something degree day in central Virginia. But today we weren’t out specifically to leaf peep.
Family is everything. Since my mom was the youngest of 10 children, there are cousins galore who have been friends and known each other since we were little kids. We gather for family weddings, funerals, and get-togethers. Our ages span 40 years from the oldest to the youngest.
It wasn’t expected that when October began we would close out the month by laying to rest one of the cousins. Her death was sudden. She wasn’t a blood relative but she had been married to one of my older cousins for so long that she was one of us. She left behind her husband, their children, and their children’s children.
She also left behind her beloved flowers that she spent hours cultivating in the yard. Gardening seems to run like a winding vine through our family.
Most of the cousins showed up to pay their respects. From the service of remembrance to the laughter afterward as we gathered in the church hall for a late lunch, it was vintage family for us, a time to catch up and visit, and to share memories, hugs, and tears. But mostly we shared laughter.
Family. It’s everything.
It was a sad occasion but it was a good day. And on our way home, as the sun dipped low in the sky as we approached the Blue Ridge Mountains, we looked at colorful autumn leaves along I-64 from Richmond to Afton. When we crossed Afton and began descending into the Valley, we could see fall color in the twilight.
It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell