Like The Queen
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Sunday, August 10, 2003  

Whew. All done.

The reunion is over for another year and somehow summer feels pretty much over too, once we get to this day. Each year the reunion has it’s own unique feel . This year was a good bit smaller, with perhaps just over 100 attendees. But one neat thing about it, I always meet a new and really wonderful cousin I hadn’t known about. This year it was the Strong family from Connecticut. Mom, Dad and 2 teenage daughters - breezing in early with bright, loving, smiling eyes. Wow! Teens, with laughing smiles, who had never seen me before, asking what they can do to help in the kitchen. A twinkling eyed Dad with a camera who said “I’m pretty good at dish-washing”. A slender mom who walked up to the clutch of young folk (that means 14-29 year olds) with a big plate of deserts to pass around. What a richness! I’d met her brother with his new blended family last year, and I’ve always been in love with her nephew, her sister’s boy, ever since, at 6, he took over seating people outside like a professional maitre’d. There is nothing quite so much fun as cousins.

I like especially watching 7 year old girl-cousins fall in love with the 10 year old boy - running up to him and tagging him like Indian warriors counting coup. There is a particular squeal a 7 year old girl has when she’s in ecstasy over a boy cousin. I loved seeing a cousin who had suffered a painful divorce some years ago show up with his new bride - and see how proud she is to be his new bride- even though I’ve know her for years as the mother of one of Little Darling’s classmates. Well - it’s a small town and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And there is Joe Pollard’s wife who beams happily at the crowd and suddenly you realize that it’s that warm smile that makes her utterly beautiful and makes you happy you looked in her direction - and you understand what it must have ment to his three motherless children when she came to love them as their step-mother. You only ever see her once a year, but how glad you are to see that smile. And the news of the cousin who is a doctor caring for the wounded coming home from the middle east. And the sight of your B-I-L who had a heart attack last spring, looking strong and handsome and best of all - present.

It doesn’t even matter that this year it rained - (it’s rained all summer) and there were no way enough tables. We just sat on the floor, or in chairs or even in the church itself. There was surely enough food and surely enough room. Some folk didn’t get here. We missed the B____ family, we’d have loved seeing the C____ kids, but at least some of the R____ family made it and there’s a new great-niece, with her name tag on top of her little bonnet. There are all the photos of the original union that produced this group, back in 1853 - with the huge book of Letters From Midway that Cousin Elizabeth let H and me copy this winter - and there’s Cousin Elizabeth beaming as she has a corsage pinned on by her son, in thanks for this gift. And all the young folk, including LittleDarling, playing slip-tag in the wet grass, with the clutch of handsome big boys chasing the younger cousins till the whole church yard is filled with their laughter.

And BigDarling took new cousins to the graveyard and pointed out where all TheSisters lie. There were 7 of them, and 4 brothers but not all of them are here. Some are in churchyards in other parts of the county and some are in family plots. TheSisters are the second generation and now the cemetery is pretty much filled with the third generation, and we are the old guys of the 4th generation. LittleDarling is the 5th generation and my beautiful god-daughters, and the new great-niece are the 6th. It is a long chain back to that marriage in August of 1853.

And this year we paid someone to set up and clean up so nobody had to be the family slave. And we still had a generous gift to give the church for letting us use their hall.

And later, H brought her family to our house for swimming and hamburgers and gentle talk and satisfied impressions.

And now it’s done. And I’m glad. And I know I’ll be looking forward to next year till I begin to worry about it, at which time I’ll gird my loins and make my plans. It’ll be one of the checkpoints in my year.

posted by Bess | 7:42 AM