Family reunions mean everything now
This summer, with our little girl in tow, my husband and I drove to Georgia for a family reunion. It was a gathering of my husband’s extended family, a biennial event we often dismiss cavalierly. But something about the birth of our daughter made us realize that we need to connect with family in a meaningful way.
On the way there, we stopped in the little town of Axon, Ga. There, I introduced my daughter to her great Uncle Phillip. At 61, he is my father’s youngest and sole living brother. When I was a child, Uncle Phillip was an Adonis of a man, an army reservist and trash talker with a confidence and swagger that made women swoon and grown men shake their heads. Now, he sat before my family a shell of his former self, his body ravaged by chemotherapy and radiation treatments brought on by prostate cancer. Seeing him was one more reminder that time is promised to no one. My childhood heroes are growing old. Even I’ve got gray hair.
Uncle Phillip held our daughter close and jumped her on his knee. She giggled. He smiled, his lips parting to show what time and a daily cigarette habit had done to his teeth. I promised to call and make more of an effort to keep in touch.
At the reunion, relatives whose names we don’t know fawned over our daughter. Her great grandfather held her high for all to see. Someone said the reunion, now in its 40th year, must continue until my daughter was serving as its host. That brought loud applause at the family worship service. My daughter would be added to the family tree, the relatives said. It is 74 pages long. By getting to know the living branches of that tree, she will discover her roots.
-- Sherri Day