Rule #215: “Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” – Mitch Albom
We recently went to Chicago to celebrate the life of the matriarch of my family, my Great Aunt Joann. She was known mostly for her strict attention (and adherence) to detail, her warm smile (with a raised eyebrow when needed), and her fierce love + dedication to her family. It was a testament to that love when a whole gang of Pitchers (my maiden name) descended on Chicago from all corners of the U.S. to honor her memory.
Our Aunt Joann was the Executive Assistant to the then CEO of Quaker Oats, Robert Stuart, Jr. She gracefully fulfilled her duties and offered her advice when asked. After a long career at Quaker, she retired and did what I think she probably loved most of all. She became an usher at Wrigley Field for her beloved Chicago Cubs. I never feel like a trip to Chicago is complete without visiting Wrigley and watching the Cubbies. They will always be my number one team (sorry, Corey – they’re even behind the Astros – you can read more about that here).
We decided to take Corey to Chicago to see all of the family and honor Aunt Joann. We had a great time despite the circumstances. I think she would be very happy to know we showed Corey around her favorite city and did so many of the things she loved!
We’d been talking to Corey for weeks about going on an airplane to Chicago to remember Aunt Joann because “she’s in Heaven” now. We had a few bumpy, “NOOO MAMA! I’M NOT GOING ON AN AIRPLANE!!!”s, but in the end, he friggin’ loved it!
I believe Ted was less than thrilled to be dragged through an airport…
… but then again, he sure got a lot of love!
I can’t say enough RAVING good things about the hotel we stayed at: The Thompson Chicago. Wow! The rooms, the food, the service, etc. were all impeccable. We will definitely be back! This was their Brussels Sprouts Bruschetta – I have to recreate this one!
Their charcuterie platter (you know I’m a sucker for those) was phenomenal, too! The perfect thing for just getting off a long flight.
My makeup is gone. I look like a partial zombie on a bad hair day. But I don’t care. This kid’s smile sums up how much fun our day one was! It was really cool to get to spend two-on-one time with him! Jon Boy had just as big of a grin!
Seriously. This. Hotel. Was. Gorgeous.
The next morning, we were lucky enough to just cross the street to get us some delicious breakfast!
The Original Pancake House FEELS like Chicago. The line wrapped around the building both Saturday and Sunday for HOURS. It’s that good. I had their Eggs Florentine both days. I dream of poached eggs and good Hollandaise.
After our hearty breakfast, we went for a little stroll down to the beach. Yes, there’s a beach in Chicago! When I posted all these pictures on my Instagram story, I had so many folks say, “WHAT?! WHERE ARE YOU!?” Chicago is the coolest city.
There’s nothing like wearing a light jacket, feeling the breeze off Lake Michigan, and burying your feet in the soft sand.
I posted this on my Instagram, but this is the coolest picture to me. My adorable little man chasing seagulls in the valley of Downtown Chicago with The Drake Hotel looming behind him. It was my Grandpa’s favorite place to stay in Chicago. It felt full circle to capture this little moment. As my Daddy would say, “It’s all good.”
My Aunt Lynn. If you know me, you’ve probably heard about my Aunt Liiiiiiiin (that’s how it sounds with a Texas Twang). Aunt Joann was to her as she is to me. It’s a special bond, I’ll just say that!
After our fun stroll on the ole beach, we headed back to get ready for AJ’s service. This little man was unabashedly dapper. I linked his outfit up in this post (praise the Lord for Amazon, y’all).
Aunt Joann’s church, Fourth Presbyterian, was unbelievably beautiful. The legacy she has here is even more so.
Let’s just say entertaining a 3 year old at a memorial service wouldn’t be complete without a backpack of goodies, a pound of snacks, and an iPad. No shame. We were in it to survive.
After the service, we had an intimate dinner with the Pitcher Family at Francesca’s. The food was phenomenal (and was also a favorite of AJ’s). She would have been grinning from ear-to-ear to see how many Pitchers came to honor her memory.
We continued the weekend of celebrating AJ by heading to a Cubs’ game the next morning. Corey got to experience his first train ride! Let’s just say, as a fan of Polar Express, this was a major moment for him.
My favorite sign in baseball. Again, sorry Corey.
So mad this one was blurry! I don’t think we would have survived the trip with Corey without my Mama there to lend another two hands!
It took some coaxing, but we finally got Corey to put on Cubs gear. I think it was the hot dog that finally broke the camel’s back…
The coolest part of the game was during the 5th inning. Some folks in the family arranged to have this tribute to her on the big screen. We all screamed bloody murder out of excitement and scared other fans, but who cares! We are so proud to be part of her legacy.
I think we honored Aunt Joann the best way we could by visiting her favorite places, meeting with family, and passing on the Pitcher love of Chicago to the next generation. I’m so grateful Corey was able to come with us on our little journey north (and Ted, too).