“Why is summer taking so long?” In the history of the world, has this ever been said? I doubt it. No. We are all asking each other where summer went. What happened to it? Summer was just here a minute ago.
Our family ended summer on a fine note. I love long weekends. I like Labor Day better than Memorial Day. Labor Day doesn’t come with all the guilt; no one posts Facebook messages on Labor Day scolding you for not properly celebrating Labor. That’s a relief.
We went to Scott’s family reunion over Labor Day. I don’t like the words “Family Reunion”. Those words don’t conjure up positive imagery for me. I get the same kind of feeling when people talk about Family Reunions as I do when I hear about dental appointments or weighted lunges. I don’t know why; generally I’m totally in favor of families.
A family reunion sounds like there’s a chance I could be stuck on someone’s plastic covered sofa, drinking tea and listening to a story about Great Aunt Bertha’s favorite Hymns. That doesn’t sound fun. I get it. I’m selfish.
This reunion was fun. This reunion was NOT like a like a dental appointment, or like weighted lunges (I could certainly stand to do a few.) This reunion was with Scott’s Mom’s family. Their kids, and their kids’ kids. Scott’s Mom and her siblings have a story. I wish that I could tell their story in detail and at length. It is way more interesting than talking about hymns.
Today I can give you the cliff notes: Scott’s mom, Gail, had four siblings. Gail’s parents owned a busy and profitable tavern in a small town in Iowa called Earlville. Earlville is kind of like Chicago, only instead of all the buildings, people, streets and business, you have corn fields, corn fields and cornfiels; otherwise, exactly the same.
When Gail was young, her mom, Caroline, would rise early and stay up late; Caroline took care of the family and helped run their business. Caroline was cheerful and hardworking.
When Gail was 12, her mother died. Gail’s father tried to keep the family and the business going, but it proved to be too difficult without his wife. Caroline was a strong woman. Her absence could not be overcome. There were medical bills. The family quickly went from prosperity to poverty.
After Caroline died, Gail’s oldest brother joined the Air Force. Gail’s oldest sister moved out on her own. Gail and her younger sister were sent to live with an Aunt and Uncle in another city in Iowa. Gail’s little brother was sent to live with a different Aunt and Uncle. The children never lived in the same house together again.
That’s the only part of the story I can tell; that’s all I know; except the ending. I can tell you the ending.
Here it is:
Gail’s oldest sister is in heaven. The other four siblings are on Earth. All four of these living siblings raised really, really (I’m tempted to add another “really” here) cool families. I’m serious. At this family reunion, I realized that every time I turned around there was someone awesome standing there.
How did those little kids in Earlville who lost their Mom, then their home and then their family survive in such a happy fashion? How did they overcome their adversity?
I think the least those siblings could do is brag about it a little bit. They don’t. Scott doesn’t have the huggy- lovey-let’s-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya before we share our feelings type of family. That means I have to work extra hard to figure out how this all happened.
What I DO know is that those Earlville siblings were all gritty. They were tough and hard working. They were loyal and devoted to their families. It’s kind of beautiful. Sorry, Gail’s family. Don’t mean to go all mushy on you. You can tell I’m not one of them.
It made me happy to take a tour of Grandma Gail’s little town where she was born. I liked learning about her family. It felt good to look my children in the eyes and say, “These are the people you come from. That’s good news for you. Your people are tough. They value family, and they persevere.” I saw something good on the faces of my children as they listened to these stories.
My kids will face their own adversity. It may help them to know that giving up and feeling sorry for themselves is not their natural way. Strength is in their blood line. It’s their inheritance.