Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A Homecoming of Sorts
My mom's family had a reunion this weekend near Durand WI, the place that is as close to my "hometown" as any. It is where Mom was born and raised and it served as home base during my dad's Air Force years. They planned to return to the area but politics intervened and they settled in Mississiippi instead.
The house is where my mom was born and raised. The farm has been in the family for over 100 years. I don't know what is going to happen to it when my uncle passes on. One of his daughters lives across the street, on what used to be part of the farm--but her husband works in an office, and seems to make good money. I doubt they want to work the farm. I have a cousin whose husband is farming some fields in the area; maybe he'll take on that property too. Like other businesses, farming isn't a small mom and pop operation any more; to make money you have to go big.
My dad and oldest brother also went to the reunion. I stayed with a cousin and Friday nite she and her husband, her sister and her husband, my brother and I sat around a fire and talked half the night. My brother had brought enough shrimp for a big shrimp boil on Saturday, but claimed he needed something else to finish stuffing the ice chest, so he also had a couple of bags of fish fillets. Since he knew those Yankees didn't know the proper way to fry fish, he brought some Zatairans and showed them.
Saturday all my first cousins, uncles and aunts were invited to a cousin's house for a shrimp boil. My brother not only brought a huge ice chest full of shrimp with him, he UPSed his boiling pot and boiler up there. Again we were there half the night talking and laughing. The last time I'd been up there was for my Grandmother's funeral ten years ago and while I enjoyed seeing everyone a funeral is not exactly a fun occasion. Of course all the little kids I saw then were teens and older now. There were a lot of us cousins and even though most of them live relatively close to the hometown; they all admit they don't see each other all that often.
Sunday morning I went to mass at the church where the ceremonies were supplied for my baptism, which is a fancy way of saying the doctor baptized me but later they took me to church and had me annointed and prayed over like they do when they baptize babies in a non-emergency situation. It is also where my parents were married and the church where my grandparents' funerals were held. I was in tears by the time mass was over. It just reminded me so much of so many people I loved. That afternoon was the official reunion. It was for all the decendants of my grandfather's siblings. In other words, it was for my mother's siblings and first cousins and their children, grandchildren etc. For the most part the people there were my mother's generation, but I suspect that since Dad, T and I came in town for it; most of my first cousins were there, and brought their kids. I got to see a few who hadn't been able to make it Saturday. When the picnic was over, we headed over to another cousin's for a while.
Monday I stopped in the cemetary. I took a picture of the graves of my grandparents and of an aunt who died when she was just a few days old.
Of course I shed more tears. I then drove out to the small community where my Grandmother was raised. I found the church but not the rest of it--though I know it is still there. Since they were cleaning the church I was able to go inside. More tears. It was raining or I might have explored the cemetary there.
Next I drove toward the Twin Cities, which is where I was catching a plane. I took the slow road and went through Pepin, which is the small town where Laura Ingalls Wilder was born (Little House in the Big Woods was set in Pepin). There was a small walk-through museum which I toured. I stopped at all the wayside overlooks and historical markers--something I've always wanted to do, but which we never had the time for. I even took a picture of the Mississippi River near its source. It looks a lot different there than it does here!
It was a great weekend getaway and I returned to a family that was glad to see me!