Growing Up

Sunday, July 9. The last day of my San Francisco trip. I’d specifically booked an evening flight so I would have as much time as possible with Courtney, my niece, and her fiancé, Matt.

(We interrupt this program for a You-Learn-Something-New-Everyday Moment…I had no idea that it’s fiancé when you’re referring to the groom-to-be, and fiancée for the bride-to-be. Who knew? Not me!)

Back to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.

…and ohmigod, holy cow!!! that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life.

What? You missed something? I’m teasing. Back to my last day in San Francisco…

After doing so much on Saturday, Sunday was just as fun-filled.

It was a little foggy in the morning, but eventually we headed out with hopes the sky would clear. After all, I had a bridge to see.

As we began our day’s touring, Courtney and Matt had their ‘San Francisco’ legs and I did my best to keep up. I had a moment here and there where I had to stop and catch my breath. But overall, I found the trek exhilarating.

We headed to the Marina and wandered Chestnut Street. There we treated ourselves to coffee from Le Marais bakery, somehow managing to walk away without any of the scrumptious looking treats.

Next, we ventured to the Palace of Fine Arts which was beautiful.

After enjoying the atmosphere there, we made our way to Crissy Field with hopes for a clearer sky. Unfortunately the fog was still hanging, so I only saw the very bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge. But that area was very cool with sand volleyball players on the beach, cyclists, runners, people chilling as they looked out at the bay, and tourists, like me, taking it all in.

I was even able to capture some nice photos with my Pentax film camera. I love this one! Great-looking couple, aren’t they?


We began to get hungry and started thinking about lunch. The three of us got an Uber ride up to the Presidio. Courtney and Matt had described where we were going, and coming upon it, I could see why they picked the Off the Grid Presidio Picnic to eat.

What a cool event the way they create this community picnic on the open grounds.

Surrounded by food trucks, the lush green grass was covered with people on blankets and little tents sprawled everywhere. The DJ spinning upbeat tunes made for a perfect afternoon. Well, it was really, really good. It might have been the lobster roll that put it close to perfect. And getting to spend time hanging out with Courtney and Matt pushed it over the top.

Watching Courtney, and having such an opportunity to spend time with her, and her partner-for-life in the months before their September wedding (which I’m honored to be one of the readers) was a wonderful gift. I’m always in awe when two people who seem so suited to the other, find each other in this big, crazy world.

So it was a special treat to be able to see my goddaughter, all grown up, navigating this city, and taking charge of our sightseeing, so far from her Cincinnati hometown with Matt, side-by-side.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was devastated to discover my boyfriend had cheated on me.  He had been my first real boyfriend of more than a matter of months and I was a mess.

Needing a woman’s support, I’d called Sandy, my sister-in-law and Courtney’s mom, who gave as much support as she could over the phone.

Knowing my sadness and heartache when I showed up at Daddy’s house for the weekly Sunday night family dinner, Daddy and my brother Ron, (Courtney’s Daddy) came out of the house to greet me.

We stood on the front lawn as I cried and they gave me tight, reassuring hugs.

Suddenly, I felt squeezing around my legs. Sandy had brought Courtney, a toddler at the time, out of the house. And there that sweet little tow head stood hugging her Aunt MaryLee.  At her age, she had no idea why I was so sad, but ready with the most pure compassion of a three-year-old, along with Daddy and Ron, she held on tight and let me know I was loved.

When Courtney was little, I spent as much time with her as I could. We did all the girl stuff like playing games, doing each other’s hair, shopping, sleepovers, and I even took her for her first time to the movie theater where we saw Ferngully.

Her little legs couldn’t hold down the foldup seat very well. Before the movie started I would pull her seat down and let go. Her legs would fly up and we would both burst into laughter.

And that was just one wonderful memory among so many that I share with this beautiful woman, (and her sister Paige) though after I moved out of town and she went to school we were less in touch.

Gratitude: Day 18

I am grateful to spend such quality time venturing around the Golden City with this little girl who has become the amazing, strong, still very compassionate woman she is today. And if I’m being honest, I know she has wonderful parents, but I’m honored to think in some tiny way, I might have had something to do with the stunning, tenderhearted person Courtney is. After all, we both believe in the power of hugs.

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