By Jennifer Goble
My husband’s mother had five sisters. Combined, the sisters had seven sons and four daughters born within ten years of each other. The eleven children were close growing up in southeast Nebraska. The aunts, uncles, and three cousins had passed away, and my sister-in-law, Doris, organized a family reunion for the remaining eight cousins.
To her, and her brother, Cal, who made it happen, “Good job!”
They chose Nebraska City, home to Arbor Day and Tree City USA, for the location. The reunion, held at my favorite resort, the Lied Lodge, provided a perfect venue.
A forest greeted me on the descent into Omaha, and freshly mowed grass bordered the runway. The nature-inspired Lied Lodge felt like coming home. Serenity engulfed the Douglas Fir pole construction, Pecan plan ceilings, rock fireplace, inspirational tree quotes, expansive grounds, tree-lined trails, and balconies overhanging wooded river bottom. If you need a quick and quiet R&R, only six hours from Sterling, you have my recommendation.
An in-law for eleven years, I have met many in my husband’s family only once. Preparing for the day, I related to the great horned baby owl who recently fell out of her nest in our backyard; I felt chilled and alone. I reluctantly walked into the crowded room fearing whispers, “Who is she?” I resembled an alien with undefined ties and unknown responsibilities. With unwarranted apprehension, I entered the room and after many warm hugs, heard “Hi, Jennifer. It’s so nice to see you!” Sharing old photos, bragging about Mother’s recipes, reminiscing ornery farm stunts, touting, “Mom liked you best,” and enjoying simple, down-home stories entertained the remainder of the day. Laughter flourished.
The reunion materialized because one person persisted. The event required organization, continued communication, plus travel and hotel costs, but the efforts earned rewards—connecting, catching-up, sharing, comparing and caring.
Extended families contribute to our last trimester of life just as purposefully as when we were children. Staying connected with relatives isn’t required; hopefully, it is a bonus. Recollecting experiences, connecting genetic health issues, and bragging about kids and grandchildren is important, not only for the present but for history.
I observed and participated. My extended marriage family contributed to their communities, took pride in parenting, and embraced me like hot chocolate with marshmallows. Cousins remembering each other for more than just childhood or high school refreshed my spirit.
Life duplicates fact and fantasy, but family is usually the core of life’s lessons and reflections. Including the good, bad, and indifferent, our upbringing does influence who we become.
A replica of the 2019 Davis reunion will not happen again. When was your last family reunion? Grab the chance while you can.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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