What a special day as family gathered at my uncle’s farm in Oklahoma. Carrying in food and drinks and delicious desserts, we met to celebrate the birthdays of my Uncle Rex, who is about to turn 82, and my Aunt June, who just had her 80th. These precious people are brother and sister, and the siblings of my sweet dad, who passed five years ago.
My family has experienced a lot of loss in recent years, which is all the more reason to join together when we can, party for any reason. Case in point: my Aunt Jeannie, who is June’s twin sister, was unable to join us today, due to her health. We were mindful of her absence and send her love and peace.
We are a boisterous bunch when we gather, and I appreciate Uncle Rex and his wife, Aunt Mary, opening their home to all of us. Their son Mike was present, with his sweetheart Jeanette. From further west in Oklahoma came Aunt June with her sons, Alan and Denny, my sister Debbie and her daughter Ashley, son-in-law Jon and grandsons Ethan and Kaleb. Roy, who will always be part of our family, arrived from Tulsa as well.
The Missouri bunch included my sister Linda with her granddaughter London, my mom, and myself. I love my family, and the way we connect and accept each other. My mom and my dad divorced when I was nine, and yet Mom was welcomed heartily today by my father’s family. That means a lot to me.
My uncle reminds me so much of my dad. It bathes my heart with father-love, being in his presence. He is such a good-natured, good-hearted man. He laughs easily, and tears up just as easily, unafraid to show emotion. He told me this afternoon, as I kissed him goodbye, that these family celebrations are so good for him, so special. That’s all the reason that I need to continue.
My aunt is a sweet and gentle woman whose face and eyes light up when her family is near. I feel very tender toward her, very protective. Her husband, my Uncle Dale, passed away recently. They journeyed long and well together. She told me today, as I stood with my arm around her shoulders, that she misses her husband, thinks of him every day, still talks to him. My heart aches for her loss. I am so grateful that she could join us today.
What an amazing afternoon of feasting and visiting, laughing and telling stories. Some of us even participated in the rescue of small fish that had been washed out of their pond by heavy rains. That is a trait that strongly defines my family members: we care about animals and all life.
I hope and pray for many more of these family gatherings, where love can be expressed among the living. I cherish this time. My desire is to have no regrets later, no if onlys, no I should haves. Only joy.