Us women folk (me & the girls) are heading to a family reunion in the next few days. I’m excited. After a few days, I’ll be coming home and leaving my girls with my folks at Camp Grammy & Grampy! Then it’s off to Cousin Week with the Hubby’s family, where they will get to spend time with the First Cousins, Aunts & Uncles. But first we’ll be headed to the family reunion in Ohio.
When I was a girl, we used to travel to my Great Granny & Gramps’ house in southern Ohio every August for a HUGE family reunion. We’d pile into the car on Friday, usually after my folks had both worked a full day and drive the 8 hours to their small town just a few miles north of the Ohio River and Kentucky. No matter how late we got their, my Great Granny would welcome us into her bedroom for hugs and conversation. You have to know that my Great Granny was wheelchair bound and had been for years, so she held court from her bed. In a way, that was how I saw it. Seems to me Gramps was always waiting up for us, but that may just be a flaw in my memory. We would eventually stagger off to bed, spend Saturday visiting with what seemed like a thousand people, and then Sunday afternoon everyone would gather and we’d eat. Mid-afternoon we’d get back in the car and drive the 8 hours home. Yes, I’m exaggerating the number of people, but to give you some idea as to how many people were involved, my mother is one of 7 children, and her mom, my Gran is one of 9 and that’s a lot of folks, with everyone’s kids & grand kids, when you get ’em all together. I loved it. My Great Granny & Gramps opened up their home to however many wanted to stay there, pallets were made on the floors, people would pitch tents in the yard, or stay with other local family. Then, things changed. My Great Granny died. And it wasn’t the same. I was 11. After that, it seemed like every year less and people came to the reunion, and then I was involved in high school & college and I didn’t go, even if they had a reunion. I’m pretty sure that a few years, they didn’t have one. Then I got married, had babies, moved around the eastern half of the country and only made 2 trips to Ohio to see my Gramps in 10 years. During this time (I thin), the Great Aunts & Uncles and the Cousins were rebuilding the reunion. Then, at 101 my Gramps died. I thought I’d never go back. I didn’t think I had a reason to go back. Granted, now the reunion is no longer held at Granny & Gramps’ house. The desire is back, to spend time with my family, the desire for family grows in me every year, every day. There is also the desire to show my girls there are a ton of people “out there” that they are connected too, and that care about them. I suspect part of it is nostalgia for the way things where before Granny died, the other is a product of my getting older, and craving family connections, knowing that we all have a limited time on earth, and some of us won’t be here in the coming years, so we need to enjoy each other now, not put it off.
My husband doesn’t really understand any of this. His family has a completely different dynamic than mine. His family is much more scattered than mine, and he has aunts, uncles, and cousins he hasn’t seen in years. My children have never met the majority of his family. (Where as my kids have had play dates with my their third cousins on my side.) Even his relationship to his siblings sometimes makes me nuts, because he has what I always wanted and I just cannot understand how they aren’t super close. Yes, they all love and care for each other, and they come together when the poop really hits the fan, but they don’t have the phenomena that he jokes my family does. He calls it “Circling the Wagons.” We flock together and stick together when things go cattywampus. I’m thankful that this is both sides of my family. I believe, not to exclude any of my in-laws, that if the poop where really to hit the fan for me, my sister-in-law and my youngest brother-in-law would be right there for me, because they are the ones I’m closest too, and I feel we have a special relationship.
Anyhow, I’m especially excited for this trip, because I have the pleasure of sharing a room with one of my mom’s sisters, who I was very close to as a kid. I always looked up to her. She took me places, and taught me things, some of the things your parents don’t teach you. Some of those things your mom would flip if she knew her sister was sharing. (Sorry, Mom. I’m grown now, so you can’t be mad at her.) She’s one of the fun aunts. Oh, how I hope you have one. I’m blessed, of my mom’s sisters, both of them are the fun aunts. (In case either of you are reading this, I wanted to let you know.) Heck, maybe with her help, and Cousin Rachel’s influence we can finally con my mom into a tattoo.