How I do dread family reunions. All the small talk that has to take place to catch up with everyone. The noise that comes with twenty or thirty people all talking at once. The little kids running around that I have no idea who they belong to and trying to stay out of their way as they dart around so quickly. I have stayed away from these events as much as I could over the years. I have a hard time believing that anyone really cares what is going on in my little life and along with that, my life seems so mundane compared to what they are doing and accomplishing. I always felt like I was a stranger in a strange land when attending a reunion.
That is until last year. Last summer I reluctantly went to the Clark reunion. I ended up feeling the need to leave a little early but while I was there I discovered something. The Clark family is a great family. They are full of love and are very caring and interesting. I reconnected with my Uncle Jim that day and remembered what a fun guy he had always been while I was growing up. I discovered my cousins to be very caring and thoughtful, as they always have been. My Aunts on the Clark side are some of the most beautiful ladies inside and out that there is. I could pick up or talk to little kids that could hardly talk themselves, but they seemed to take to me and bring me a sense of joy. I found myself talking to these Aunts and Uncles and getting sincere hugs and handshakes from them as they told me and my wife they were so very glad to see us. There was a lot of respect given and taken by and for everyone there.
Then this last weekend I went to the Hill reunion and found much the same thing. Although I have not distanced myself from the Hills as much as I have from the Clarks, there was still that connection that I saw with the Clarks. Aunts and Uncles, cousins and kids all getting together just to enjoy each other. To actually get to know these relatives that I have spent my whole life with. To pick up a one year old and be trusted by said one year old to carry her around talking to her. To have a chance to tease my cousins and to laugh. I don't laugh much in day to day life but a couple of times Saturday, I found myself grinning and almost breaking into an outright laugh.
That is what family can do. When you make that connection on a level much deeper than you can with strangers or friends, you feel it deep inside. I felt that with the Clarks and the Hills.
I am getting old. Two generations ahead of me have all passed on and I miss them so much. Now the generation ahead of me, my parent's generation, is starting to fade away and soon they will be taken from us as well. I find my own generation, my cousins, getting up there in age as well. How much longer will I have with these special people that make up my family on both sides? I am not sure. What I am sure of though is that time continues to tick away everyday, every month, every year and with time continuing on as it does, I will lose other members of my family before I pass on myself.
Family is important. I am extremely lucky to have the Clarks and the Hills as my family. Both are filled with very good people who are always there for support. These same people are always grateful for support given them when they are in need of it. I don't believe anyone in either of those families takes anybody that is a member of the family for granted. Each year as they gather, they rejoice in seeing those who share the same history.
I have discovered my wife's families and have learned that they are very good people that care and love her enough to care and love me because of her. I have found new cousins that I can follow and talk to and learn about. I have found that many of these "new" cousins have a lot in common with me and we share quite a bit with each other. I have also watch members of my wife's family pass on and have felt the sadness that comes with these losses. When Barb's Aunt Mary Lee died, I felt a sincere loss in my life. She was such a sweet lady, and a sincere lady who always made it clear that she was glad to see me. I do miss her and will for the rest of my life.
Well, this is a short entry I know, but I think it is an important one. Family IS important. Don't take them for granted. Offer support and I promise that when you need support, it will come back to you ten fold.
I truly am grateful for the families that I hail from. I am proud to be a Clark and a Hill. I am proud to be associated with the Tarwaters and the Kissingers. I am a member of some very special groups of people and I continue to be amazed by the people who make up these families.
I am truly blessed.