When I was first dating Rafe, it was a while before I actually met his family. We'd met briefly in 2001 when we were both dating someone else, then again in early 2002. We were friends first, and then eventually began dating each other. When I first found out that he had a large and close-knit family, I was pretty excited. I love big families and the hustle and bustle that involves big get-togethers and informal visits, and I was especially impressed with how close he was to his cousins, aunts and uncles.
The first time I met his Nana, it was at a Thanksgiving Dinner at Sherlene's house, and I was scared to death to go inside. I can't remember why, but Rafe wasn't able to be there at the same time I was, and I had to go and meet every single person for the first time by myself with the exception of his mom and sister. (Now that I look back, I think, what kind of person would let their brand new girlfriend walk into a lion's den alone?!?! and I cant' believe he did that). What I remember most about that first visit was seeing Rocky outside and he waved me on into the house, being welcomed inside by Sherlene, and immediately hearing Nana yell, "You must be Rafe's girlfriend! Come on back here so I can talk to you!" She was sitting at the round table in the back of Sherlene's kitchen, and most everyone else was in the livingroom or on the front porch. Frank was sitting in his chair by the door, with a big smile on his face and a friendly hello. Believe it or not, I felt much better after that. I liked that she was direct and bold and she was asking me all kinds of questions. She always seemed very interesting to me, and I enjoyed our conversations on the phone when we were able to talk occasionally. I feel very lucky that I was able to meet his Nana and Papa before they passed away.
Braden was just a baby when I met him that day. I think he was actually in the crib by the front door, up against the wall. If I remember correctly, Julie and Nathan were on the couch and I think football was on the TV. When I first met his girl cousins, I was stunned at how gorgeous they were. All three of them could be models. Not only that, but they were really down to earth and very nice. One of the best things was watching them with their parents - it's one of the most loving and closest families I've seen. They genuinely enjoy each other's company and it's a delight to be around them. They are all very intelligent, talented women.
I not usually a person who is too star struck; partially I think because over the years so many famous people have come into the places I've cooked for or stayed at hotels I've worked at. But I have to say it's a bit different when it is someone in your own, albeit extended, family. I personally think it's really cool to have someone I'm related to be so talented as to make it to the Dallas Cheerleading Finals. If you're from Texas, you will realize what a big deal this is; and if you're not, then I'd just like to say that Football is like a second religion to most Texans. Rafe's aunt sent me a video of one of his cousins during a tryout. What's really amazing about this woman is that she doesn't even do this full time!! She has a full time, intense job and is just that talented that she made it this far!!
Anyway, because I feel like helping Rafe's aunt brag and I think it's so cool, here is the link to the video - Britt is the last dancer, and you can see her also in the very beginning of the link.