Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reunited and it feels so good

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, " 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.


madcobug said...

Great pictures. Glad that you had a good time. The family picture is great. My daughter tells me occasionally that someday maybe she will learn to listen to my advice LOL because once again I was right. I tell her that with age comes wisdom LOL.
Hugs, Helen

rdautumnsage said...

Sounds like you had a great time hon. Loved the family portrait of you with your parents and sisters.
We are suppose to have a family get together (Doc's side) August 2nd, and then the Christmas get together is going to be in my small house. We're talking close to 20 people. One of the reasons for wanting a huge dining table, even then the most we can seat at the table is 8 and another 6 at another table I'm going to set up in the living room. Oh yeah, I know still 6 more to seat and find room for. I'm thinking going entirely buffet style. Eh...they are coming to have a good time, we'll figure it out. Families are like that. Hope your Dad had a great Birthday.

By the way Doc surprised me and picked up the chairs earlier for the table. I'll send you photos soon. Promise...Just wanted to thank you and Ken for being there for me as a friend. (Hugs)Indigo

mpnaz58 said...

Family is so very important, and when they scatter and can't or don't care to come around, its just sad.  I'm still very attached to my cousins, but my kids are not that close to my cousins' kids, and now they have can turn into quite a bunch.
xoxo ~Myra

queeniemart said...

all of my life i have wanted a family that was sober and not dysfunctional. I have always attached myself to friends who had families with closeness and togetherness. My daughter also is the same way. Both my kids LOVE their aunts, uncles and cousins and grandparents and they, like me, realize that time is short and that traditions are the fabric of real life. I LOVE seeing you at your family reunion. I did not know you had sisters....loved seeing that pic of your family. You are the type, like me, that appreciates family. It sometimes seems that is dying in this day and age of moving far away and not thinking about history. Both of the family reunions i get invited to are too far away and i am always at work. Phooey.

deshelestraci said...

Looks  and sounds like a good reunion.  I'm going to miss ours this year, again.  They are in Iowa so I'm sort of excused.  I didn't grow up with them so that makes it even harder.

carouselqueen70 said...

I am glad that you had a great time. Thank you for sharing the pictures. We dont have family reunions anymore since my grandmother has passed away. I wish we would. They were alot of fun. ...hugs, Christine

markonit said...

... great big entry ... feel you on our losing our connections with each other ... especially the families .... everybody says it is so important ... why the glum ' they made me stand here' face in the picture ..?

... another good read ..!

krmprm said...

What a nice looking family!  Cherish every moment spent with
your folks.........I know you do already.........and I am glad
the reunion went well.  I am catching up after a few days
away.  Have a wonderful week.  Ain't retirement grand?  Pat

jmoqueen said...

That's a great family picture.  I envy you in a way as you have such a large family, my family is very small in comparison :)  I hope you guys continue to get together like that.  Even if it is just once a year, it's not that big a chore is it lol