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On the Road to Old Friends

My Mom always said old friends were the best.   Those we’ve known practically since our beginnings!   Beginning school, being the new kid on the block, starting college or career, newly married, having kids. All those fresh starts we have in life where we gravitate to folks like us….eventually  bonding and sharing and growing along until one day; they’ve become life-long forever friends. Since so much of who we are is based on where we come from, it’s natural to continually reaffirm and….


Savor Old Friendships!

Spending time back home in Michigan the past few summers, my husband and I connected with family and pals from childhood, high school, first jobs and those who were there when we met and married! Lots of retelling……and rehearing…..the same old stories, but the laughter was always fresh! We needed to rehash, recall and relive some of those important moments in time that tend to stick. And as always these days, the conversation eventually turns to our children…yikes, how can they be pushing 50 while we’re still so young?…and our grandchildren! From a brand new great-grandchild to a granddaughter off to college, we nodded and clapped and shared in each others’ pride and joy in these precious rewards we receive for raising our own kids!

Road Trip North

Sometimes a 2 hour trip by plane,
but usually a two-day road trip each way!  Oh what fun we’d have! Blue highways where you can take your time and see small town America; try Mom and Pop diners and pizza joints, see farm after farm with dairy cows, corn fields, bales of hay and handsome horses grazing around every curve in the road! It’s always a favorite to see the Amish folks in Northern Indiana out and about in their horse pulled carts. One time we were passing through local town Festivals… the carriages were filled with families and they were everywhere. I have so much respect for these people and was especially pleased to see some had embraced safety over modernization and installed stop lights and blinkers on their carts!


We listened to Kid Rock and Seger CDs in Michigan of course, sang along (over and over again) to “Ain’t that America, you and me;  ain’t that America, home of the free” all through Mellencamp’s Indiana.  By Tennessee we’d moved onto Travis Tritt’s “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares”……..and then a little Huey Lewis and Adele thrown in as we made our way home via more back roads!   Great fun…….singing along as the miles go by always seems shorter! Reluctantly, we’d have to tune it down, hook up with I75 and join the freeway-free-for-all the last couple hours.

No photos to post……..but oh, so many pictures captured in our hearts.  The spilled wine, the scenery, the shouts of  “I love your hair/love your shoes,” and that side-hug-and-a-handshake guys do. Our old campus has grown and changed so much it’s hardly recognizable; and the welcoming smile of the pizza lady who’s still there……where my kids stood on those same little steps to watch the pizza dough twirl……she’s still there!

The Roots That Grow Us

As time flows on, our friends mean more and more because we’ve all made the same journey together. Maybe not side by side in the same town, but certainly soul to soul and heart to heart over the years in phone calls, Holiday cards, visits home or shared vacation spots. Thanks to each of you who always found time to be with us for a few hours!

Now it’s Michigan time again; only I’ll be going back alone this summer. I’m flying, the vibe will be different…but home is home. During the years we lived there, Winter Wonderland was fun as we skied and skated and sloshed through snow as if there was no other way of life. But after moving south and making regular visits home to see my folks,the highlight for me was driving under the Say Yes to Michigan sign after hours of driving! And although Pure Michigan addresses all that this great state has to offer, including the inland cities that cater to agriculture, hunting, industry and shopping; my favorite is the new Lakeshore Galore slogan.

The Great Lakes state has over 11,000 inland lakes, one on which we owned a house for many years. Friends and relatives have lake homes ‘up north’ and ‘down west’ as the smaller lakes that lie along and are fed by Lake Michigan are referred to. This year I can’t wait to visit a few more, have new adventures and make new memories!

Read more from Joan Stommen on her blog, Gramcracker Crumbs

Joan Stommen

I am a teacher, mom and grandmother of five. I retired after 33 years in education to help care for my mother AND my daughter's new twins! I write about families, education, fitness, aging gracefully and the bits and pieces of my life. Becoming a widow has given me another platform on which to share my thoughts and feelings. Over the years I've written for newspapers, taught writing skills to college students, classroom teachers and children of all ages. My blog posts have been featured on More Magazine's online site as well as other blogs. I enjoy Zumba, hiking, scrapbooking, reading, subbing and learning to cook! In addition to drafting my parents' love story and my memoirs, I'm looking for a writing coach position.

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Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014

Love reading your posts seems we have alot in common. I also take care of my mom and my daughter is expecting twins probably sometime in December so I will be looking for lots of advice. We used to visit Michigan quite a bit haven't gotten to go for a few years and we really miss going there!

joan stommen

Thursday 24th of July 2014've made my day, sweet Rena! I have been following your posts about caring for your Mom and I admire your strength and's not always easy! I'd love to talk twins with you anytime! Ours will be 7 this December.....our Christmas babies! We all freaked out when it was discovered of course; my daughter had a 2 yo already and 4-5 degrees with career in mind. I retired and have been along for the ride ever since! Double trouble and double joy! :) Thanks for your kind words, my friend!


Monday 21st of July 2014

Yes road trips are fun as is revisiting old haunts. I went back to my University and met a friend a few years ago. I could not find my college because a building was built in front of it!

joan stommen

Thursday 24th of July 2014

I know what you mean, Haralee! The 'build-out' is everywhere and we had to hunt for the old buildings....they were still there! :) Thanks for reading and responding!

Joan Stommen

Monday 21st of July 2014

Yep, Michigan's a pretty magical place! Family and old friends just keep pulling us back it seems. Remind me to tell you about one of these old friends when we get together! Thanks for reading and commenting, Tammy.


Sunday 20th of July 2014

What is it about Michigan? I have two other friends from Michigan who make annual, or more, trips back to see family and friends. I also love that you've kept up with childhood and college friends. I have a few but really only keep up on Facebook with them.

My dad had a group of close childhood friends and they kept up by phone, some visits and more recently via email. After he passed, those friends still keep in touch a bit with my mom and it's been nice for her as they rehash those old stories about him with her.

Joan Stommen

Sunday 20th of July 2014

Michigan is pretty magical indeed! Our extended families and childhood pals keep pulling us back I guess. Remind me to tell you about one of these old friends when we get together! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Grandma Kc

Saturday 19th of July 2014

Not to mention all the lighthouses and the little fruit stands along the road - often unmanned - just leave your money. There is something special about Michigan! Great post, Joan!

Joan Stommen

Sunday 20th of July 2014

OMGosh....I forgot about the lighthouses....a road trip in itself when we'd drive the Lake Michigan coast! And the honor system fruit n veggie stands...oh yeah. And spittin' the cherry pits out the window...good times! Thanks for these memories, Kc! How womderful to see you here on MB!

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