I truly enjoyed the Ralph reunion at the Old Beech Church, near Goodlettsville, Tennessee, on Saturday. I got to speak briefly with all my aunts and uncles—my mother’s three brothers and three sisters and their spouses. All were there except one in a nursing home, and I visited him before the reunion. I’d thought I might chat a lot with them, but that didn’t work out. Too many people were trying to see them and visit.
But I did get to visit with some cousins. My Ralph grandparents, Luther and Hester, had nine children. Seven of them had children and grandchildren, so many young ones were there also—their great-great-grandchildren.
I enjoyed talking with cousins I hadn’t seen in years. One was Martin, who lives south of Atlanta. From ages 7 or 8 to 14, I spent a week with his family every summer. He had no memory of that! I am six years older, so I guess having an older girl in the household was irrelevant to him. Both of his parents are dead. He brought with him his wife Sharon, one of his sons and his wife, and their two sons, Ethan and Lucas. He took a picture of his grandsons with all their great-aunts and uncles, so that’s the only picture of have of that generation now.
We did get a picture of ten of the first cousins who were there (one left early), but we didn’t manage to round up the subsequent generations of their children and grandchildren. I suggested we stand in order of age, and I was a bit surprised when it took just a few seconds. I knew I was the oldest of all 22 cousins, but I was surprised to see how easily the others knew exactly who was older or younger. The youngest, Sanders, is 28 years younger than I am.
I asked one of my questions of my aunt who will be 96 tomorrow: Do you remember when you first got electricity?
“Of course,” she answered.
“I guess it was pretty exciting, wasn’t it?” I prompted.
“No, not that I recall.”
“But it seems that going from oil lamps to electric lights would be huge,” I urged.
“Not really. It was just something that happened.” She wasn’t inclined to discuss it any more. But she did tell me a sweet story about when she first met her husband. I was ready for any memory she wanted to share.
She told me once, “People tell stories about things I remember, and I remember them differently from the way they’re telling it. But I just keep my mouth shut. They have their memories and I have mine.” I took that as good advice, so I try not to jump in and correct a story. Try, you understand. I don’t always succeed.
So we had a pleasant time together, of course, with that wonderful Southern cooking. “Which is Deba’s?” we’d ask. “Did Juanita bring this?” “Be sure to try Sharon’s soufflé.” My brother John campaigned with everyone to try my carrot cake. We helped each other find the best treats from our own closest relatives–wonderful cooks. All fabulous and delicious!