Family reunions: To remember, honor
Summer is full of family reunions and my husband’s family has met on the first or second Sunday of August for 92 years. One senior member at 92 was present at the first reunion! My husband’s family is not exceptional and for that reason represents what underpins the status quo of a great and good society. What matters as well is that one can watch this sturdiness work itself out in reunions.
Most of the original generation were farmers. Three of the daughters married farmers, but only my husband and his son farm today. Other descendents became college professors, teachers, CPA’s, lawyers, mechanics, machinists, and military careerists. One flew over the “Hump,” the Himalayas Mountains or aluminum alley because of the many crashes incurred transporting supplies to China during World War II. Another was a war hero. He and his nine crew members were shot down over Germany in 1943. As the plane careened to the earth, he managed to get a wounded bombardier into his parachute and push him out the escape hatch. He then followed. Only three survived—the wounded man, another crew member and himself. They spent the remainder of the War as German prisoners. After the War he returned to farm with his father. His son and widow were at the reunion.
Besides eating, reunions have purposes. They remind the wider family of what was sacrificed and secured for them through service to country and the costs. A cousin of the war hero found in her genealogy search an earlier war veteran born in 1762 who fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
At reunions there is a recording of marriages, births and deaths, of who is the oldest and the youngest and who came the furthest. During these exchanges people keep chattering among themselves discussing who and when. One woman remembered being told she had had her first bath at aunt-so –and-so’s. Someone yelled out, “And you were 10, right!” My sister-in-law whispered in my ear, “I’m glad they didn’t mention when I first visited indoor plumbing!” She was six. In healthy families there exists a heaping of good humor.
And so it goes. Families reunite once a year to remember, to honor, to offer blessings and to enjoy the continuity of heritage, theirs and their country’s.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.