Miles of Memories – Part 2: Two-Footed Friends & Family

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Earlier this month my husband and I traveled through and to several states to visit friends and family, covering several thousand miles. Last week I wrote my thoughts on four-footed friends that have impacted my life. This week I’m remembering the two-footed friends and family that those 4,000-miles brought to heart and mind, some of whom we visited.

Greg and I spent time with his family in North and South Carolina and with some of my relatives in Mississippi. We also shared great times with a few of his friends, including one whom Greg hadn’t seen in more than 40 years – they had been good friends in high school but had lost touch over the years. That happens to many of us and made me think about the advantages of Facebook, email, and texting. Reconnecting with people who played a major role in one’s life is important, and the older I get, the more I recognize that fact.

Friends_IowaI grew up in Iowa but haven’t lived there since I was 17 years old. I’ve been back for visits periodically over the years, however, since my maternal grandmother died in 1990, those visits have been very few. My mother was an only child and so was I, therefore, direct family no longer lives in Iowa. I do have several childhood friends, however, that I enjoy sharing time with, and I hope to do that again in the near future. My last visit was nearly four years ago – I do hope to return, perhaps for a booksigning with the latest muse as well as visits with my friends. Burlington has a wonderful bookstore downtown, called Burlington by the Book, and in 2012 I had a signing there and several of my childhood friends came by. I believe it’s time for another one day soon!

Greg and Patrick_Cardinals_July 2016Greg’s friend in St. Louis, whom he hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years, met us at Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. The game was GREAT! With the Cards winning 7 to 1. And my husband, who loves his St. Louis Cardinals (Greg graduated from a high school in St. Louis in 1973) spent most of the game catching up with his friend, who is a chiropractor in the city. They reminisced and shared about their lives today. After the game, a fireworks display reminded us of the upcoming 4th of July, and thereafter, Greg and I and Patrick and his girlfriend met shared a few hours at a neighborhood bar, sitting outside in the warm night air, sharing, laughing, and learning. It was a fun night!

cookseys mansfields irwinsA week later we were in Mississippi staying at my cousin’s house. I hadn’t seen her since I was 17 years old; she was about 10 then. As adults, we connected via Facebook and have been following each other and with me learning more about her family, including the fact her youngest son is in the movies – he’s one of the young boys in Free State of Jones. Greg and I saw the movie before our trip, and we both agree Cade Mansfield Cooksey did an excellent job! While we visited at their home, we met the family dogs (my cousin Lynette is also a big pet fan, especially regarding dog rescue) and also reconnected with my uncle and aunt, Lynette’s parents; Greg and I had seen them in St. Louis of all places about six years ago when we went to a ballgame and they were in town for a convention. It was fun to reconnect with the family!

gayle_carolina beachVisiting Greg’s family in North and South Carolina was also very enjoyable. I had not been out there in more than eight years. Our sister-in-law took a day off work and drove me to Carolina Beach along the Atlantic Ocean. I rarely have opportunity to see the ocean so it was a very special day for me. Greg spent each of the four days we were there with his brother and his mother and had a wonderful time. I, too, enjoyed sharing time with them, and as a family, we all gathered for a grill-out on July 4 and then a picnic at a park near my mother-in-law’s senior apartment complex the next day.

IMG_1194My parents will be visiting later this week. My dad turns 80 on July 28, and we are planning a small gathering of friends at our cabin on Saturday to celebrate. I was blessed to help celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary last month with a trip to Yellowstone and Teton national parks, where we shared day trips in and around the park. My parents have had a major influence on me through the years, especially regarding appreciation for nature and animals. We spent many times during my childhood camping and traveling, being outdoors and raising animals. I look forward to hosting my parents and to celebrating dad’s special day; having the cabin is an added benefit and my parents enjoy being there — the outdoor force is certainly strong in my family!

Greg Gayle Mom Dad_cabin

Even though Greg and I didn’t get to spend time in Iowa, I certainly thought a lot about my childhood residences (we first lived in Burlington then moved to a small acreage about 15 miles north) as we drove through Nebraska and Missouri in particular. I, too, was (and am) a Cardinals fan (made a great fun rivalry with my mother and grandmother who were Cubs fans) and one time Dad took me to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home outside Mansfield (how appropriate – that’s my maiden name!), Missouri; Greg and I also visited the Wilders’ Rocky Ridge Farm in 2007. A stop in Nebraska during this July trip took us to HyVee Grocery Store, which I remember well from my childhood as Burlington also had/has HyVee – I got to see Santa and his reindeer there when I was eight – and Sterzings Potato Chips, which are made in Burlington and are a major LIKE for me and my parents, were on the shelf.I bought two bags: one package now awaits my parents’ arrival this week; Greg and I ate the other as we completed the trip and finished it after we returned (it’s been difficult to NOT eat that second bag!).

potato chips_sters

That 4,000-mile drive earlier this month helped remind me of the importance of family and friends. Memories of yesteryear still impact me today, and I’m grateful to the people in my life who have helped shape it. I hope you, too, have wonderful childhood memories and that you are able to stay connected with the people who have positively impacted your life.


Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is the author of six books, some for children and some for adults and families, and is a contributing writer to six editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is also one of the writers featured in Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart, released in July from Sundown Press, with a story about the positive life lessons dogs can epitomize. The book is available in both e-format and print format. Learn more about this new publication at Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Pawprints Book




21 thoughts on “Miles of Memories – Part 2: Two-Footed Friends & Family

  1. It is fun and exciting to see friends and relatives that we don’t often see. We had our family and friends get together again this year. It was a lot of fun. I hosted it, so I had to flit from person to person, but everyone I talked to had a great time. I also went to lunch with my brother Friday and he bought me big bag of Home Grown tomatoes. I’ve been eating 3 a day. My oldest brother and wife, and my youngest brother’s wife, were also there, and my 84 year old uncle, who still gets around better than most younger people. In my neck of the woods, it’s Mr. Bees Potatoe Chips. Cher’ley


    1. Sounds like a busy time for you, too, Cher’ley. I hope you’re feeling better and that the rest of your summer is enjoyable and safe. Thanks for stopping by to comment.


  2. Enjoyed your post, Gayle. For me Facebook has become a vehicle for connecting online with friends I haven’t seen since high school days. It can sometimes be weird, though. A couple of guys I remember as being long-haired hippies against the Vietnam War. Now they’re Trump supporters.


    1. Oh, yes, one never knows what you will discover when you reconnect with people. I attempted to draw some conversations that became political toward more neutral subjects… sadly, didn’t always work. Then, I’d give the excuse, “we have to hit the road — a lot of traveling today!” or “I’m a bit weary from traveling today — think I’ll head for bed.” 🙂


  3. Gayle, thank you for sharing your memories. I also remember Burlington, I spent college summers working at the Sheaffer Pen company. It is a wonderful thing to stay and reconnect with those who were/are a part of our lives. Doris


    1. I remember Sheaffer Pen — I think some of my mother’s relatives worked there (I’ll ask her this weekend). I hope to go back to my home state either next year or in 2017; perhaps for another booksigning as well as seeing friends. I’m SO GLAD you and I were able to share part of the day together last Saturday, Doris, and hope to see you in the fall! Thanks for reading and commenting!


  4. What a lovely post, Gayle! You are very fortunate to have so many friends and relatives with whom you connected and spent time with during your trip. I can imagine you and your husband were both exhausted but happy when you returned home. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time with your parents when they arrive for your dad’s birthday. Have fun!


    1. Yes, Linda, my husband and I did have an enjoyable (but exhausting!) time. We were glad to return home and especially to get to our cabin, even for a day. Last weekend we traveled to Denver for some training Greg had to complete, and I was able to visit friends in that area, too, including our own Doris McCraw — she is SO WONDERFUL! I look forward to this weekend with my parents and hosting a birthday party for dad… then the next weekend, to SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP! (and maybe read a bit and maybe write a bit… LOL) Thanks for reading and commenting!


    1. Good for you, Travis! Branson is in a lovely area of Missouri (I’ve not been to the town but have driven in the area a few times — hope to get to Branson itself one day). I hope you also enjoyed seeing your relatives and visiting a lovely part of our nation. Thanks for reading and commenting!


  5. Wow what fun you had. It is great to reconnect with family and friends. I am fortunate most of my family and friends still reside in New Jersey so they are just a 4 hour car ride away.


    1. Yes, Sue, you are lucky — being that my mom and I are both only children, there aren’t too many relatives to see, and my dad’s family is scattered from the Pacific to the Gulf, and my husband’s family all live in different states, to it’s not very practical to visit all of them at once. I’m glad we took the trip and I look forward to future vacations in different parts of the country to continue visiting friends and family. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!


  6. It’s funny–I just got finished writing about something similar. It’s so easy to let the people we love slip away from us in favor of our workaday world. I’m glad you got to reconnect with people from your past.


  7. That’s funny, Gayle, both my mom and I are only children too! Your trip and visits sound wonderful. Hope you had a great time with your parents. I will be visiting friends and family (on my mom’s side) soon as well. I’ll be going to Seattle to see a friend and then renting a car to drive up to Vancouver to stay with my cousins. There will be a big family BBQ and I’ll see many cousins I haven’t seen in a while plus meeting new babies. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday, Sarah! I haven’t been to Seattle or Vancouver in MANY years, but I’d like to return one day. I especially enjoyed Victoria, so I hope you have opportunity to ferry over there, even if just for a day — it’s a gorgeous city from what I remember, and another place I’d love to see again. My parents visit this weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing them. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments — we only kids have to stick together! 🙂


  9. That was great to reconnect with friends and family not seen for quite a while, Gayle. Enjoying time with them becomes more precious as the years advance so keep up your great work in travelling far and wide! Glad you got to the ocean!


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