Grandparents, BD Mongolian Grill, and The Cincinnati Reds

If you know me you know I am a sports guy. I have been a NASCAR fan since the Intimidator drove the yellow and blue Wrangler car, and still cheer the 88 on every weekend. I have been a long suffering Bengals fan, and am finally able to show my face after years of futility. I live and die with the Buckeyes, and don't give a damn for the whole state of michigan. But if you cut me open, you will see that I bleed Cincinnati Red.

My Mamaw used to ask me to watch games with her when I was a kid. Pete Rose and Johnny Bench would be on her little black and white set, but I would be paying more attention to my Hot Wheels than the legends on TV. When I got a little older I paid a little closer attention, thanks to my Uncle Ronnie Mason, and became a fanatic after my Mom married my Dad in 1986. I never missed a chance to listen to Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall call a game. I would put my radio under my pillow at night and tune in long after my scheduled bedtime. I heard Barry Larkin make his major league debut. I listened as Tom Browning threw a perfect game against the Dodgers in 1988 (I still remember Marty's call word for word). And I idolized Eric "The Red" Davis, who I consider to be one of the greatest center fielders in the history of the game. I am Cincinnati Red, born and bred, and have tried to pass that to my sons. I would give anything to watch a game with them and my Mamaw, who we lost in 1989.

We drove to the Greater Cincinnati area Saturday morning and met my Grandpa and his wife, Lina, at his church in Goshen. I had phoned him a few days before and told him we were coming down and asked if we could get together. Not that I ever need a reason to see the Old Man, but I had a box of ammunition for a handgun that I knew he owned. Papaw pretty much owns one of every gun ever made. Since I do not own a single firearm, I knew he would have a lot more use than I would for these .380 shells. He told me the church was having a huge yard sale that morning to benefit a mission trip, and I instantly saw a win/win/win scenario. After all, the core of my entire marriage was built on flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. And what better cause than funding a church building in Latin America?

We spent about an hour perusing the second hand merchandise, found a couple pieces that fit the house, and headed out. We told them we would stop by their home that afternoon, and set off to another grandparent's home, my Gramm Slusher, one town over in Milford.

She was so happy to see us, and we sat for about an hour and talked. We spoke about my birth Father and the different phases of his life. We talked about our family genetics and what I have to watch with when it comes to the boys. We talked about my Mom and our shared respect and admiration for her. My grandmother told me she always considered here like a daughter and I told her it showed when we were kids. We talked about my Aunts and Uncles and cousins. At some point, my Uncle Steve wandered in from another room and talked with us as well. It was a fantastic visit, and I hope we do not wait as long to visit again.

After that we went back to the Old Man's and talked to them for awhile. Its funny how, the older I get, the more I enjoy conversations with him (And then the Old Man spoke). He showed me the lumber he just got, talked about how people in the family were doing, and how to plant a garden. After a couple of hours we headed for the hotel, to rest a little before the game.

At 41, I still watch the Reds almost daily. And I am so thankful to have a wife who understands the obsession and even watches with me, although secretly I have always thought she just like looking at Joey Votto. Either way, tickets to Saturday's titanic struggle were my anniversary gift from her this year, and it was the best time I have ever had at a game. A perfect evening weather wise set the tone for our visit to Great American Ballpark. Then, we watched the Kentucky Derby on the big screen from our 15th row seat. We ate nachos, pretzels, ballpark dogs and peanuts. We stretched in the seventh inning and sang take me out to the ballgame. And then we watched a come from behind, 6-2 win behind Johnny Cueto. It was truly a wonderful time, and the centerpiece of one of the best weekends I have had in my life.

Sunday morning we got up and took a drive out into the country. I showed her where we lived in Lynchburg, we went to a barn sale off an old back road, and had an ice cream cone in Hoagland. We drove for hours, then headed to the BD Mongolian Grill in Mason and had lunch with my Aunt Debbie, Uncle Ronnie, Aunt Pam, and cousins Rachel, Rebekah, and Jazzy. We spent several hours visiting and catching up, and it was the perfect bow on a weekend that had already been terrific. Time with my Grandparents and family, hanging out with my wife somewhere other than work and home, and remembering good times from my youth was not only relaxing, but cathartic as well.

We left the restaurant and headed halfway across the state to Circleville to go to Carnival Foods to shop. Yes, it was 2 hours out of the way, and 45 minutes from Columbus. But the money we save there has made this our grocery store of choice. With a car full of food we headed home, unloaded, then picked up the boys at 8 in Johnstown.

Chalk up another memorable weekend for me and my girl. From seeing the Mothman to Amish Country to Murphin Ridge, our getaways are a huge part of who we are. And since she put all this together for me, it is my turn to plan out the next adventure. I cannot wait!

(Still) Day # 427. My Grandpa Hodge and Grandma Slusher are both 84 years old. And both look like they are good for another 30 years. Hope it runs in the genes. With Grandparents like them, it is great to be me!


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