The Park2Park Half Marathon in Holland, Michigan was a subplot to the real reason for this visit; my mom returned to Michigan, her birthplace. This was a fun four day adventure for my mom and I to reconnect with family and reminisce. It had been nearly 25 years since her last visit. In that time, Bridgman, Michigan, her home town had changed a ton.
South Chicago to Lush Green Southwest Michigan
We made the decision to fly into Midway Airport and drive to Bridgman. Thanks to the wonders of Google maps and a kludgy highway system in Chicago we took one wonderful 5 minute drive through what appeared to be a very bad area in South Chicago. After this (fortunately) uneventful detour we regained our bearing and headed northeast into southern Michigan. The green and lush landscape extended as far as the eyes could see. My mom and I were quickly reminded of the beauty of this part of the country.
Reconnecting With Family
Fortunately my wife is far wiser than I am. You’re welcome dear. Through her life experiences I was reminded of one thing, you get only one family. It is critical that you spend as much time with them as you can since life, as we know, is very short. After a short year of nudging my mom to make the make a trip to Michigan she agreed. This turned out to be a great decision. We had a blast re-connecting with Aunt Silvia, Cousin Sue, Cousin Donna, Cousin Davey and lots of second cousins. Additionally my mom reconnected with many of her high school friends. We spent hours just sitting and talking, telling stories and reminiscing. It was wonderful and heartwarming.
There were far too many fun experiences to list from this trip but one of my favorites was watching my mom observe her old home. Specifically her room on the second floor and the forest across the street where she used to play. It was obvious that she was in a highly emotional state, she just kept asking Cousin Donna questions about the house. The garden that was on the side of the house was now reclaimed by forrest, the barn had changed but the house was as it was decades before. My second favorite was seeing Grandma’s old house, see the photo below.
The Park2Park Half Marathon
The drive from Bridgman to Holland was uneventful and easy. The weather was hot and humid, we had just timed a our trip with a late season heat wave. The race was surprisingly beautiful winding all along Lake Macatawa which connects to Lake Michigan. There are some gorgeous big lake homes there. Around mile 7 we looped through a park that was along the canal connecting the two lakes. Although the race was almost dead flat and very close to sea level, this was a bad day for a PR. The heat and humidity were in full force. Thankfully the fire department had set up hoses to mist us all down as we ran. Thanks Holland FD! And, per usual in smaller races far from home … as I crossed the finish line the MC said, “and Von Holbrook from ….. Encinitas?” Yeah, I know, a long way from home man.