Our family reunion was sticky and sweet and something special to savor for always.
It was, “You haven’t changed a bit,” or “my how you’ve grown,” – the first maybe not entirely true of us older folks, the second being all too true of those young ones.
It was going through 10 hugs at least, just to get from one side of the room to the other.
It was introductions and reintroductions, while the folks who married into it all were doing their best to keep the names and relations straight.
It was lots of, “It’s been too long” and “What are you up to these days?”
It was passing around old photos and talking about the love that started this whole crazy thing.
It was passing around new photos too – ultrasound pictures of a new little family member to come, my little brother's first child – and talking about the love that keeps it all going, this family of ours.
It was a little musician learning that he’s next in a long line of pickers.
It was a few tears from those of us who remember other hands playing and other voices singing the songs that we still hold dear.
It was cousins who didn’t know each other yesterday, but today are fast friends.
It was trying to figure out just how we’re related – second cousins? Third? First twice removed?
It was cowboy golf, horseshoes and volleyball, old stories and new laughs, card games and frying fish, red shoulders and noses, mamas chasing small bodies with sun screen, sticker burrs in feet, and smiles on faces.
It was hide and seek and water balloons, little hands sneaking too many sodas out of the cooler, and another cookie off the tray.
It was asking after the ones who didn’t make it, being sure to say, “send them our love,” and it was remembering the ones who have gone before us too.
It was “remember that one time?” and “those sure were the good old days, weren’t they?” It was knowing that these are the good old days too. Right here. Right now.
Our reunion was cookies and brownies and lemon bars and coconut cake, sweet potato fries, fried catfish, peanuts in pepsi, potato chips and lots of “I really shouldn’t….” and then, “well maybe just one…”
It was kids and dogs, all running, all jumping, while grownups fanned themselves and wondered where they get that energy.
It was little ones who needed “just one more hour” of swimming back at the hotel, because it was all too good for it to end just yet.
It was old folks staying up far too late talking, because we wished it didn't have to end too.
It was so many hugs and smiles and then tears when it was time to say goodbye. It was making promises that it won’t be so long before we see each other again.
It was a long ride home, talking about all the fun we had and looking forward to the next summer when we can do it all again.
It was a long sigh, down that long road, because it went by so fast, but also because we know that it will go on, this love of ours.
It was looking out at the cornfields whirring past, and feeling warm and held tight in the knowledge that we’re a part of something good, something big, something important, something that was, and is,
F A M I L Y.