The word “Family” can be either all encompassing as in all your relatives that share the same surname and same set of ancestors, or it can mean the family unit which nurtured you, the people you shared a home with.
I was born and raised overseas. My father was a Civil Service employee and his employment took him from Hawaii, to Guam and eventually the Philippines. Because of this, I never met a cousin until I was in my teens. I had read about them, knew I had them, but had no idea who they really were! . . . and to think my parents had brothers and sisters? What a concept! I did know my grandparents on my mother’s side since they lived in Hawaii and we would visit with them frequently. This was family in my formulative years; the people who all came together at the end of the day, my parents, brother and sister. The picture below was taken on Guam about 1955.In 1982 we all got together for Easter at my home in Southern California. We had all aged, but Dad seemed to be the only one who looked distinguished with the greying hair.
Easter seemed to be when we had the Gathering of the Clan (we never thought of the word Reunion) and this one found us gathering at my parents place in Fallbrook, California. We have all “matured” but are definitely enjoying the hands that have been dealt us.
In 1956 we left Guam and settled in California. My parents had decided it was time for the children to get the benefit of all “The States” had to offer, and that included a good education and family! It was a whirlwind of relatives tour! I met four aunts, four uncles and seven cousins!! And one of them was my age! How overwhelming! We all had something in common! We shared grandparents!!
In the years that followed we’d get together for holidays, weekends and on vacations, yet there was never really a family reunion. The closest thing to a family reunion would have been my grandparents 50th anniversary celebration. I was married by that time, as were my siblings and many of my cousins. Aunts and Uncles were there, with the exception of one who lived on the East Coast, but many cousins had lives of their own and did not attend. The cousins that did attend I could probably count on one hand.
Our family scattered as we married and started our own families. We would get together at holidays in my parents home, and cousins would play and interact. We made sure our children knew their cousins and it was fun watching the next generation getting to know each other. My brother had four children, I had two, and my sister became the favorite aunt when each niece or nephew was born. In 1972 the family gathered at my parents’ home and a picture of the cousins recorded the event. Pictured above, left to right are my brother’s son and daughter, Jeffrey and April, my son, Blaine, my brother’s son and daughter, Brad and Kim and my daughter, Paige.
The closest our family has ever come to a family reunion was in 2008. As a surprise for Mother on Mother’s Day, we had a mini-family reunion at my brother’s home in California. She had no idea that I would fly in from Pennsylvania or that my daughter and granddaughter would drive from Central California for the ocassion. Two cousins were unable to be present, but after many, many years, my daughter and three of her cousins were able to reunite and share laughs and stories of their childhood. It was a day to remember for years to come.
In the picture above are Paige is kneeling in the front in the blue dress, April is on the right with her arms around Kim’s son, Kim is standing next to April, and Brad has his hand on his chest next to Kim. Mother is almost 90 and is in the black, my brother Bud, is on the left with his arm around his wife, and I am kneeling in the front by Paige and her daughter. Missing are my sister, Priscilla, my son Blaine and Bud’s son, Jeff.
Although we missed Priss, Blaine and Jeff, the one we all probably missed the most is Dad who joined his parents in glory in September of 1990.