June 26, 2010 7:15:00 PM
Betty Stone -
Summer is traditionally that time of easy living, lazy, crazy days and reunions. Some of us got cheated by life on the reunion feature. In my generation my family was so small that if we met for lunch, we''d had a reunion.
My mother, my father, my husband and I each had only one sibling. One of my uncles had no children. My grand total of first cousins was four; the oldest is seven years younger than I. I really envied people with large families. Except for a one-time gathering of my husband Doug''s cousins, I had never been to a family reunion.
That changed last weekend when the Lee family invited my family to attend their reunion at Lake Tiak O''Khata in Louisville. Of their eight siblings, only three survive today: Elaine Stevenson, Bill Lee and Fay Ivey. That''s why Bill says that when your crowd thins out, you just enlarge the circle to include friends as well. I think that is a great idea.
Although only my daughter Diana and I were able to go, we, along with other guests, were welcomed into a convivial crowd and tempted with more food than I allow myself in a week!
From near and far
Both Diana and I were impressed that people came from as far as California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Atlanta, Ga., Montgomery, Ala., and Jackson, and no telling where else that we could not keep up with.
Activities had been orchestrated by Bill Lee of Starkville, Lynda Gilbert of Atlanta, and Lee Ann Wilson of Jackson. It was touching to see everyone''s affection and the joy all had in being together.
The children, especially, had a good time. Apparently they spent hours in the lake and at its waterfront playground. They appeared for the evening meal showing various shades of pink skin, from a light layer over suntanned, sturdy little boys to the bright blush on the cheeks of a dimpled, curly-haired little girl. There was also an incredibly good-natured baby with an amazing shock of dark, pink-ribboned hair. For two days she allowed herself to be passed around from arms to arms without complaint. Well, occasionally she asserted herself and voiced a minor objection to something, always easily fixed.
Dr. Roy Ruby, several times interim president and named outstanding alumnus of Mississippi State University, and now affiliated with Mississippi University for Women, was an after-luncheon speaker Saturday; but he delivered no serious, scholarly oration. His free-flowing series of stories touched on all kinds of people -- teachers, doctors, lawyers, country folks, city slickers and, of course, himself.
There was a lot of laughter as there always should be, but there were serious moments, too. A memorial service paid tribute to deceased relatives. Sunday morning those who did not have to hurry away heard a brief sermonette by the Rev. Duane Ivey, Fay''s husband, who holds an ecumenical and, I think, unique position -- a Baptist minister filling a Methodist pulpit in North Carolina.
Enjoy your own
Now to those of you who are going to your own family reunions this summer, I have this to say: Please praise and thank your family members who planned it. I have observed that it takes an awful lot of work. You are fortunate to have a family big enough to reunite. Also, watch out! My first experience with a family reunion was so enlightening, I might just crash yours!
On the other hand, I wonder what kind of success I would have if I tried to gather those four cousins and their families, now widely scattered, and have our own reunion? I have a bigger family now, but I would still have to augment the crowd with friends. That could be fun, too. The task is appealing, but daunting. I''m not convinced I could carry it off.
To those of you who can, congratulations. Have a great time with your kith and kin. There''s no one like ''em!
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.