Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, which for today’s piece of gratitude, I just wanted to offer many blessings and thanks to God for orchestrating a wonderful visit from my sister Laura and my youngest nephew Luke last weekend.

I truly must give the credit to God for bringing this together, because frankly, not more than a month or so ago, she and I weren’t even on speaking terms, mostly because I was being bull-headed about several things, none of which need to be gone into anymore. Regardless, it wasn’t my self-will that eventually overcame this stubbornness because it was much of my self-will that had prevented us from reconnecting. Rather, after praying over this repeatedly, somehow, I had a change of heart, and ultimately, so did my sister. Honestly, if you had asked me a few months if I thought I might actually see my sister this year, I would have said probably not, which is why this trip was such a miracle. Nevertheless, over the course of three solid days, we all did some rather neat things together.

On day one we went to a science museum in downtown Toledo called Imagination Station. It was my first visit there ever and I was so glad to have shared it with them. I was quite thankful that all their hands-on exhibits were able to be touched again, as COVID had prevented that up until just recently. One of the many highlights there included Laura and Luke getting a great laugh as I tried to do this pulley-thing that’s supposed to bring a person up into the air, but laughably, I kept falling to the ground. A few other notables included sitting in a flight simulator where Luke had us driving all over the runway and even flying upside down at one point, experiencing Level 1 hurricane winds in this huge tube where we both screamed over the noise of it all, riding a thrilling motion ride that we all felt dizzy after, and watching my nephew build circuits in a science workshop. After we left there, we had a cookout on our driveway where we scarfed down some tasty burgers, corn, potatoes, and slaw. At the end of the night, I took a swim in the hotel pool they were staying at where I felt some much-needed joy as Luke laughed uncontrollably at times while horsing around.  The evening ended after playing a few games of Harry Potter Uno. All in all it was an amazing start to their trip here.

On the middle day of their trip, I drove us to Sandusky, Ohio, where we had lunch at one of my favorite diners in this area, Berardi’s Family Kitchen. Everyone enjoyed their meal a lot, especially the Boardwalk fries they are famously known for there. After there, we went to Goofy Golf, which is one of the best miniature golf courses in the area. Before we started playing it though, Luke won a ton of tickets in the arcade and found a few prizes he liked, which made me happy. When we finally started playing some putt-putt, I think I had more fun watching everyone giggle as they hit their balls repeatedly on some of the holes, then me playing the game itself! We were all pretty hot after finishing, so we went to an incredible homemade ice cream joint in the area, Tofts Dairy Ice Cream Parlor, where the portions are always HUGE! After Tofts, I drove us to Marblehead Lighthouse, which is such a beautiful place to see Lake Erie and Cedar Point off in the distance. I love to take guests there and am so grateful that Laura and Luke loved it like I do. By the time we arrived back at my home, we were all starving again so we went and got a pizza at Mama Mary’s, which is the closest to New York style pizza here to what I grew up with in New York itself. The evening ended with another great swim and more laughter to brighten the spirit.

On Laura and Luke’s final day here, we visited The Toledo Zoo, as Chris and I are members there. We tend to take most of our guests there the first time they come for a visit. While my sister has been there a few times already, Luke hadn’t, which made for a new experience and appreciation, especially when he told us he liked the giraffes the best, which we all got a pretty good look at on the train ride we took. Unfortunately, the crowds were immense, so we didn’t stay as long as we usually would. Once home, Luke helped me pick up some leaves without me even asking and that truly moved my heart, specifically when he said that he knew I was going to have to pick them up later, so he wanted to help! What a great kid! That night we all went to Rosie’s Italian Grille, which has never disappointed me with anything I’ve ever eaten there. We got to sit on the patio near the ponds and appreciated listening to the soothing waterfall sounds along with seeing the playful coy fish and turtles in the pond itself. Our evening ended with multiple games of Harry Potter Uno again, where one game just went on and on and left us all in stitches!

Parting the next morning from them at the airport was truly difficult. After enjoying a breakfast at a local IHOP and dropping them off at Detroit airport, I sobbed uncontrollably in my car as I drove home. They were tears of sadness for them leaving and joy for such a wonderful visit. Overall, this trip was truly a blessing and a gift from God, and something I will forever remember and be grateful for.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson