Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The extended family - the ties that bind

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I was one lucky little girl. I got to grow up knowing all but two of the people in this picture.  My great grandpa Dan died about 20 years before I was born and his son Clifton passed away before I had a chance to meet him as well.  But all the rest of them, including my wonderful great grandma, have been part of my life, to some extent, from the day I was born until now.

This was possible because this family had a deep love for each other, and even after they grew up and started their own families, they made sure that they kept in touch, and passed on their stories. More importantly, they made us kids come to the reunion -and hear the stories, and eat the great food, and just hang around with them for a few hours every year.  And that's all it took to get those folks in that picture- my great aunts and uncles, right into my heart.

Long time readers will remember me talking about Aunt Opal. In the photo above, she's standing up on the end in the pretty plaid dress.

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  I've written about Aunt Dorothy too. Rosie's middle name is Dorothy.

But I remember bits about all of them.  Uncle Sam, the great fisherman who's fish stories (and the blarney that went with them) were epic!  And Uncle Ernie who taught me to play croquet and let me win! Uncle Elmer who was so smart, and Aunt Mary who wasn't afraid to tackle anything.  I have so many fond memories of them all.

Today we lost Aunt Grace.  She was 96 years old.  Born on the 4th of July and died on tax day!  I think there's a correlation in there somewhere.  I never heard her yell, or scold or raise her voice.  She was always sweet and gentle.  My sister and I always commented on her lax homemaking skills, but today in memory of Aunt Grace, I left that table messy all day and still let my sister in to chit chat - because, dang it, I didn't feel like clearing it off!! I'm sure I've got some weird things that are going to make people grimace, laugh and then remember kindly (I hope) after I'm gone.  This blog might be THAT thing!  Who knows??

My mom had a special relationship with Aunt Grace.  They talked often and shared each other's problems.  When I was pregnant with Rosie, Mama even encouraged me to name her Mary Grace.  They visited all the time.

The four sisters, Mary, Opal, Grace and Dorothy always seemed so close to me.  From my perspective as a youngster watching them, it seemed like they were always at each other's homes, helping each other out.  They were all proud of each other too.  They laughed together.

So I'm feeling a little sad today.  Another piece of my childhood is gone, another family member a memory.  But a good memory. and the love I had for her and for all of them is still there and it always will be.

A few days before she died, Aunt Grace saw her brother Clifton and her mother, standing in the room near her. That made her happy and even peaceful.  That gives me so much joy to think of the reunion that is happening in heaven today, Grace with all of her brothers and sisters, and her parents and grandparents, old friends and her miscarried baby - all together for their own very special family reunion, the Holy Week edition.


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