Friday, August 20, 2010

Bittersweet family reunion

The actual family reunion part of our trip, our whole reason for going to Indiana in the first place, was bittersweet.  My husband's family tries to get together every 5 years or so and my father-in-law has been looking so forward to this reunion.  He's 78 and not in great health so he doesn't know how many more reunions he'll get to enjoy.  Well, he ended up having to be hospitalized upon arriving in Indiana and missed his reunion.  In fact, he's still in the hospital, though out of ICU and doing much better.

My husband's aunt arranged for the reunion to be in my father-in-law's childhood church in Kendallville, Indiana.  He was so excited to be in this little church again that was so much a part of his childhood.  My husband had to fight back tears the whole time we were there because he was so heart broken that his dad missed it.  (He was 10 minutes away in the hospital.)

This is a very small church in a very small town that normally doesn't have any children in attendance.  They were thrilled to have our kids there and insisted they come up front for a special children's lesson.  Louie caused quite a stir when she toddled up there behind her siblings, but as soon as the pastor addressed her, she bolted.  My kids were a little surprised to see a woman pastor, but we were very uplifted by the liturgy which helped us to worship in spirt and truth.

This is the stained glass window that my father-in-law's family purchased for the church 70+ years ago.

After church, the reunion moved downstairs to the fellowship hall for conversation and good food.

My father-in-law was one of six kids and this table represented his family at the reunion.  At the end is my husband's oldest brother and the guy in the light blue shirt to the left is my husband's next oldest brother.  My husband's other brother died tragically in his early thirties, but two of his sons were able to make it to the reunion. 
Twinkle Toes posing in front of the picture wall of fame.  I dressed the kids in their age shirts for fun.  You can't tell in this picture, but Twinkle Toes has a 9 on the front of her shirt.

After lunch, everyone moved back upstairs to the sanctuary for a special video and music presentation.  My husband's aunt arranged for someone from each of her sibling's family to interview each sibling about life memories and then for someone in that family to play a musical piece.  My husband's grandpa, the patriarch of this huge family, was evidently quite musical.  I enjoyed learning that since my husband is so musically gifted.  His grandpa played multiple instruments, could play a song after hearing it once, and even played with some professionals.  I also learned through the video that my father-in-law's best man didn't show up to his wedding and my mother-in-law was ready to call it quits right then.  I'm glad she didn't.  They've been married 58 years!
After the video and music presentation we held hands in a circle around the inside of the sanctuary and sang Silent Night while my husband accompanied on the guitar.  This was a Christmas tradition that all of my father-in-law's siblings remembered fondly.

Then we moved our group to the hospital to try to take some reunion to my father-in-law.  We get to see him lots since he lives around the corner from us, but here he is with two of my husband's nephews that live in Indiana.

My husband's aunt who arranged the reunion generously put us ALL up in a hotel in Kendallville for two nights.  I think she had a block of a dozen rooms or so, we took up two of them.  But we mostly stayed with my husband's oldest brother in Terre Haute who has a son 4 years older than Monk (their other son stayed with us this summer) and a daughter that has little boys close in age to Measle (7) and American Boy (4).  They all had a blast playing together!

What a ride!

The three story fort my brother-in-law built.

There were lots of tears when we pulled out from their house- mostly my kids who are going to miss their cousins terribly.  We were all glad to get home though and sleep in our own beds.  Eleven days is a long time to be on the road!

1 comment:

  1. This was so sweet! I know your father-in-law will enjoy seeing all the pictures you took. What precious memories!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.