Well, we had a great time at the comedy club last night. The headliner was John Morgan, and they call him the "Ragin' Cajun." He was quite funny, and he had that great Louisiana accent. I love going down to New Orleans and having people call me chér and babe! It was fun to see Jillian and get caught up on everything, and while I haven't spent a lot of time with her husband Neal in the past, I like him a lot. We all seem to have similar philosophies and senses of humor. I'll look forward to our next outing!
The reunion was also a great time, but we had a pretty low turnout this year. I wish more people participated, because I believe that as a country, we're losing our sense of family. It's important. I enjoy seeing everyone, and it's always a chance for a little reminiscing and a few laughs. My Uncle Burt (my Dad's one remaining brother) was there, and I was so happy he was able to make it. At 88, he's in pretty poor health, but I got to see him and give him a hug. He's the one who owned the cabin in Minnesota where we went every summer when I was a kid, and those are some great memories. His son Doug is one of my favorite cousins, and he's the one who gave me my most treasured childhood toy, a little red dog who I cleverly and creatively named Little Red Doggy. I still have Little Red Doggy, by the way. Doug's son Jason was there, and Jason now has 3 kids of his own. Hard to believe. I was just telling Ken what a crazy little brat Jason was, and how I dreaded his visits! It's funny to think about that, because now Jason is such a great guy, just adorable, and one of the nicest young men you'll ever meet. That's Jason to the right, and my Dad is sitting next to him.
I also got some good news, as my Cousin Tom and his wife Nici are planning on having their Apple Butter get-together this fall. I haven't been able to go to the previous ones, because I was always working, so I was excited to go this year. Then Mom told me that Tom was thinking about not doing it, because Mom said that losing his brother (Cousin Donny died last year) was pretty hard on Tom. Apparently Tom has decided to have it after all, so another family tradition continues. I forget how many pounds of apples and sugar go into the big black pot, but it's a bunch. It's cooked over a fire for several hours, and of course, we have a potluck!
Here's my family. Mom, Diana, me, Sue, and Dad. I'm the short one of the bunch, but none of us are exactly Andre the Giant, so I come by it honestly! At one point, there were three people taking pictures of us, and I said, "Ugh, the paparazzi!" (As the baby of the family, my job is to be the "clown." I usually do pretty well.) Di is the one who is the pyro, and she's already buying stuff for her fireworks production at her 4th of July party. Sue is the one whose son (my nephew Steve) is a Marine, and he'll be home for the party--Sue said maybe she'd see if Steve can sneak a couple of mortars home with him. We all got a good laugh out of that! We all remembered that when Steve was a little kid, he always wanted to help with the fireworks, but he was too young. Now he's a Marine in the Infantry, and his job is to blow stuff up. Ahh, irony!
Oh, and I got an update on Steve. Last I knew, he was on a ship somewhere near Africa. They had dropped some guys off in Kuwait to go do training of some Iraqi troops, and it sounds like Steve was maybe going to be a part of that. But get this--they lost his gear! And there's no such thing as borrowing someone else's gear, you have to have your own, but the Marines lost his. For those of you who are new to this journal, Steve was scheduled to ship out several months ago, but he had a severe abscess and was hospitalized for a couple of weeks, and his status was "non-deployable" for several weeks after that (he lost quite a bit of weight due to his infection). He was finally listed as "deployable," but then they lost his gear. Crazy! Believe me, we all understood that it was a very real possibility that Steve would go to Iraq, and we were prepared for that. I guess it just wasn't his time. I really feel for any parents who have lost their children in war, or who worry about them being stationed in war zones--I know how hard it would have been on my sister, and I'm thankful that she was spared that worry. Sue was thrilled about the new G.I. Bill passing, in which veterans will get full tuition at state colleges. I said I hope Steve will take advantage of it, and Sue said that he is planning to. Great news!
We had our meeting, and there were several births to report, but only one death (my Uncle Gene). It was sad to hear how many passed away the previous year--5 or 6. We took up the collection, agreed to meet at the same park next year, and business was done. See the trees in the background of the picture? We were at Centennial Park in Plymouth, Indiana, and it's such a beautiful park. It's where they have the annual Blueberry Festival around Labor Day. At the Blueberry Festival, they have lots of craft and art booths, and of course, the marathon, the Blueberry Stomp. I don't do the Blueberry Festival anymore--the last time I went, several years ago, it was wall-to-wall people, just a huge mass of humanity. I tend to get claustrophobic in crowds these days, so I have no desire to go. However, there was an article in today's paper about how there are a couple of companies that are renting canoes and kayaks so you can go down the Yellow River, the river that goes through the area and through the park. (My Dad grew up in a house by the Yellow River.) Both Ken and I thought that sounded pretty neat, so maybe we'll make the time to do that this year. It's a small river, and slow-moving, but what a great chance to soak up a little nature and see more of where my Dad grew up.
Dad was saying he'd like to take us around to different houses where he and Mom lived, our grandparents lived, the cemeteries where they're buried, etc. In a couple of the local county museums, there are some exhibits related to our family, and we all agreed we'd like to do that soon. We'll call it the Family Roots Tour 2008!
I also got to see Cousin Emma Jean, who is one of the sweetest people I know. I worked with her daughter Erica at the lab, and asked her to be sure to let Erica know that I miss her! Emma Jean lost both of her parents, her oldest daughter (Debbie was my age) to a brain tumor, and her brother, all in the space of maybe 3 years. It must have been so hard for her, but she handled it with grace, with the help of her faith and her family. We had a nice little talk, and I said I was thinking the other day about how odd it is that as we get older, our parents just get smarter and smarter! I said it's directly proportional. She agreed and said there were so many things that she remembers her folks telling her, and at some point in her life, that exact situation comes up, and she thinks, "Mom...Dad...you were right!" She went on to say that it's also a reminder that every single day and every moment with them is precious. So I think I will leave you with that wise thought from Cousin Emma Jean.