Sunday, March 30, 2014

Random thoughts on the 6th annual cousins' reunion

My dad died in 2003.  Funerals and weddings draw relatives out of the woodwork.  Having lived in New York State since 1974 and not getting back down South a lot during those years - I was busy raising two very active boys - I didn't see most of my cousins in all those years.

Amazingly, at my dad's funeral, we seemed to pick up right where we left off as kids all those many years ago.  Uncle Harding, my dad's last surviving sibling, was near death several years later in Jacksonville.  I chose to go visit him before he died, rather than go to his funeral.

I realized what I had missed not being closer to my relatives and my mind started churning.  I sent out an e-mail to everyone sometime in 2008.  "Why don't we get together one day this next Spring at the old homestead?"  I had no idea what kind of response I would get.  We all have our own busy lives.  The response was unanimous. . . "let's do it!"

That first reunion brought 11 people, 9 relatives and 2 friends  A few others wanted to come but could not get away for one reason or another.  I don't think I envisioned back in 2009 just how much fun and how successful each new reunion would be.  Some years we have had as many as 20 show up.  We extended it from just one day, to some of us showing up on Thursday to be at the property on Friday to target shoot and just enjoy being on the land that has been in our family since it was deeded from the government "way back there!"  My grandfather was a prosperous cotton farmer and he and Granny raised their four children there.

Most years, Rita and Kip, have invited some of us to end the reunion by going to Kip's parent's vacation home on a wide river about a 45 minute drive from where we hold the reunion.  That is always a lot of fun and Kip's buttermilk biscuits for breakfast are a treat I look forward to each year.  Nobody makes them like Kip!

Yes, it is a long, two day, 1200 mile drive for me to get there each year and another two day drive back, through 8 large cities. . . Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham, and Montgomery.  If you catch any of those at rush hour - and I invariably do - you've got a stressful situation on your hands, like going at a crawl for an hour or more in a sea of cars.  But the pain of that is easily forgotten once I get there and start having a good time.

No, I don't choose to fly, not with the gear that I take with me!

Here are mindless thoughts that go through my mind as I drive down and back!

Tennessee has the very best rest areas of any of the states I go through.  They even say, "Welcome!" when you walk in the door.  Kentucky is a close second.

Driving through central, rural Ohio and into Kentucky is pleasant with the vast farmlands, the old barns of Ohio and the hilly terrain of Kentucky.

Hampton Inn is the very best hotel chain out there and their staff always goes out of their way to be friendly and helpful.

I broke the AAA habit this year.  Long story short, earlier this year, AAA really made me mad about an issue.  I asked for their traditional flip top triptik and was sent the mapquest version.  They seemed annoyed when I brought this to their attention, like it was my fault.  I found that with a map and my iPad, I got along just fine.  I used my iPad to pull up the map of two cities where I wasn't sure which turn to make.  Surprisingly, when I spoke to friends about my issues with AAA, I found that a lot of people are dropping AAA.  My insurance company has road side assistance. . . something I've never needed. . . and now I get a senior citizen's discount for lodging, so who needs AAA?

I am pleased that the next generation, some of our children, make a point to come each year.

And finally, if you have long lost relatives that you haven't seen in a long time, look them up and get together.  Family is important.

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