So if there's one thing that can be said for the Papilis, it's that they definitely know how to have some fun.
Over the weekend, I headed down to Wildwood for the yearly beach trip. Britt, Matt, and Cait and I left after work and drove down to the usual haunt on Pine Street. We've been going to the same place for as long as I can remember — my earliest memory being the infant Caitlin eating sand crabs in the surf and her parents freaking out...so that's at least 20 years worth of memories right there. As far as I can tell, not much has changed since those days. We're even still rocking the same orange, green, and white umbrella from not only MY childhood, but apparently Dolly's own kids' childhoods.
That's Cait in the foreground with the pail and shovel, Nick directly behind her, my dad behind them, and me off to the left with the ponytail and shades.
Friday was a perfect night in my opinion. The weather was gorgeous. All my favorite folks were there. I got a chance to sit and talk to Pop Pop on the patio outside the room for a few hours, which is one of my favorite things to do. I got to hear about things from his childhood, how his parents got to America, and even a bit about his Dad who was long gone before I was ever even thought of. It turns out that Pop Pop's dad passed away just a year before he and Dolly got married back in the fifties. Like Alex, Dolly only got to meet Pop Pop's dad a few times before he passed away, and like my Dad, Pop Pop's dad was already very sick at that point. It was already special that Pop Pop is going to walk me down the aisle this time next year, but there is something comforting about the fact that he understands my loss in a very real way. I will be very proud to walk down the aisle of our church on his arm surrounded by generations worth of history. There is something very special in that.
Besides conversation and a shared funnel cake with Pop Pop. I also got the scoop on what's going on with everyone at St. E's from Mary Ellen (along with a really grusome story about Uncle Lou injuring himself for a second time this summer), stories from Mary Ann about her newly retired lifestyle, and talked to Mom Mom about getting ready for my wedding at her house. I think that made her really happy. Caught up with Sis and Barry as well, and Matt Byrne joined Barry in a whole lot of torturing Mom Mom. This year there was a whole lot of banana antics. I have to say that Matt has come a long way in feeling comfortable around the family.
Mom Mom said she wanted to make sure that she didn't eat that banana, so she said she was going to mark it so she wouldn't be confused. Barry went ahead and did it for her.
Also, I was fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to suffer not one, but several Uncle Barry attacks. This is something that happens at family dinners pretty frequently, and happened to my Dad even more than most. Barry will wait until you least expect it, come up on the side of you, and lick your face. Here's him getting my dad at Christmas in 2009.
And here's Uncle Barry attacking me in Mom Mom and Pop Pop's hotel room.
Along with catching up with everyone, I made it down to the beach where Aunt Mary Ann helped me make sure I didn't get burnt too bad. As compared with other years, I didn't do too badly. Its sort of inevitable that I miss a spot or two, so I always have some sort of bizarre pattern. This time I have spots on both my knees and one on my chest. I was even careful and got out of the sun to have lunch with Mom Mom, Pop Pop, Aunt Ellie, and Uncle Lou. All in all a very good beach day.
That evening, I had dinner with Britt, Matt, Cait, and Marcus. We played some boardwalk games and shopped a little bit. We ran into Aunt Mary Ann on the boardwalk as well and she treated us all to glass bead necklaces (which I LOVE and am wearing right now). After the boardwalk, we walked back to Pine Street and took some photos. I really like this one of Mom Mom and Pop Pop. It's not often that you can get them both looking at the camera and smiling.
And I'm thrilled to have a new one of the three of us since the most recent one I have is from three Christmases ago. The only downside is you can see my terrible sunburn, but that's okay.
You really can't help but love this family. I'm so glad to be a part of it all.