This is a picture of my grandparents in front of their church in June 1999. It’s one of my favorite photos of them, mainly because of my grandpa’s smile. Just over 20 years after this was taken, 90 of us got together for a reunion at a breath taking lodge, on a hill, in the middle of nowhere.
The saying, “All because two people fell in love,” was never more apparent than it was at this reunion. Although my grandparents weren’t physically there, they sure were with us in spirit. They helped to bring almost 90 of us together in one place. The weather was beautiful and we saw some relatives we hadn’t seen in a while.
There were several who weren’t able to make it – if you add us all up, we total close to 150! We each bring a different piece to the puzzle… a story uniquely our own, with a common bond of family. Not all of the puzzle pieces are pretty, or ones we want to show off to others. Some have sadness, stories of abuse, addiction, health issues, infant loss, divorce, deaths of parents/grandparents/siblings/children/spouse, mental health issues, etc. Each of those pieces blend with the shiny pieces of good health, grand babies, laughter, new beginnings, prosperity and love, to create a masterpiece.
Photo credit: Bonnie Maley.
On a beautiful July day, surrounded by green pastures, cows and blue skies, our mosaic puzzle came together. Like I said, there were many missing. Some due to other commitments and some because they have passed away already…. My cousin who passed away too young, another cousin’s husband who died unexpectedly, uncle who passed recently, an aunt many years before him, uncle who had been gone several years. They all leave behind loved ones who long for one more moment. One more hug or laugh or story, one more batch of cookies or cattle round up. We honor and remember them when we get together. We feel that piece that’s gone, and we try to fill that spot with love and laughter.
Some of us got very little sleep that weekend. I was one of them. We stayed up until almost dawn, laughing, dancing and playing games. Those are the things I will remember and hold close to my heart… my nieces swing dancing with their guys at 2am, my uncle’s laughter and jokes and “advice” to my teenage son, my cousin’s hug at 3:30am, my aunt’s “high five” for staying up the longest of all of her sisters. Years from now, I won’t remember the hours spent planning, but I will remember the look on my mom’s face when she sat by her sisters and looked through old photos. It’s as though those photos took them right back to that place in the picture so many years ago. I want that for my kids. I want them to look back on the pictures of this weekend and smile. “Remember when…”
I know a large family is rare now, and getting everyone together is difficult. I’m forever thankful that those two people fell in love, because that love has multiplied. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Sometimes peace is hard to come by. Some days you may feel like it’s never enough and you don’t know how you will make it through your struggle. Hold on. Reach for those who love you. Lean on them, let them lift you up, and just rest. You are always enough. Much love to you all today.