Last weekend I attended my family reunion in bustling West Frankfort, Ill. More than 60 relatives showed up at the big event, held once every two years. As it happened, this was the first reunion since my divorce, so there were the occasional awkward silences and moments when a cousin unknowingly asked where “she” was and why didn’t she come?” But everything was handled with grace and understanding.
Reunions with my family are known for the talent show put on by kids and some adults. The kid portion is, of course, filled with song and dance and performances that are worthy of “America’s Got Talent.” The adult performances are usually dedications. Some bring tears, like the song my cousin wrote for her grandfather who will be 87 this year. A World War II vet, my uncle was moved to tears hearing his grand daughter sing this dedication. Then there’s always the “wild” cousin, niece or nephew who gets up and performs a song with questionable lyrics or innuendo that offends the oldsters and makes the rest of us refrain from all out laughter.
The best part of the reunion for me is seeing the smiles that cross my mom’s face when her surviving brother and two sisters are together telling stories of their childhoods. As children of the Great Depression, they know what having a “hard time” truly means. They lived through the hardest of times. And they appreciate every day that they get. A closer group of siblings, I’ve never met and even today they all live within a few miles of each other and talk daily. They are each other’s support network. They are family and so grateful for one another.
I’m proud to call them all my family.