Every year my grandmother puts together what is called the “Barbour Family Breakfast”. What started out with just a few relatives meeting for breakfast has now turned into 40+ relatives coming together for a few hours in the morning – some even bring their spouse & children, and they all catch up with each other, and also share those precious memories .. they hold on to, but also pass down to others .. like me.
I’ve only been to a few of these get togethers, but I’m grateful for each one I attend, as each year I feel like I can put together more of the puzzle, the family tree, that my grandmother has kept in tact all of these years. All of these years, she tells me about the memories she has with her parents, and the stories her parents would tell her when they were young. And then, she tells me about 2nd and 3rd cousins, and their spouses and children, and she updates me on each life, with just a snapshot she holds in her hand..and I suddenly feel like I’ve known them my entire life.
When I walked through Tom & Sues door Saturday morning, I was greeted by so many happy faces, and just knowing that I was somehow related to each one of them put a smile on my face! Sue was an exceptional hostess, making Mexican hot chocolate as we entered into her DREAM kitchen! I stood back for a moment, taking in all of the chitter-chatter, watching as each person exchanged hugs, smiles, laughter, and I thought about my own luck in being part of such a loving, caring and extraordinary group of people.
While I stand in line, trying to decide from the various dishes what to eat, Aunt Jean passes me by, she whispers in my ear, “Sandra said this is a Cinco De Mayo Celebration”. “Yes”, I tell her, “Isn’t this great.!” She looks at me, smiles.. walking away, she stops and says, “Wait, I’m not Mexican.” I giggle softly to myself, and continue down the counter of delicious food .. taking a small spoonful of a few different breakfast casseroles, and some fresh fruit. My husband has already fixed his plate of food and has saved me a seat next to him. I catch up with Amy, whom is one of my many cousins, who I also met at the last breakfast, and have now become “facebook” friends, and now, we are visiting.. as if no time has gone by. I listen to Aunt Jean, who is entertaining our table of 8, telling us about a conversation she had with one of the guys who live in the same Assisted Living Community as her. “Well, I told him I was going to a party this morning..” She looks so innocent as she goes on with the conversation, “He asked if there would be male strippers there.” I’m thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me, who in their right mind.. would ask someone of her age, such a question!” Aunt Jean goes on, “I told him, well gosh, I don’t know.. but I sure hope so!” We all are laughing, trying not choke on our food.. as she goes on with the “next” story, she is full of all sorts, and that is when I start to wonder.. is that where I get it from?? Nate always teases me about “my stories”
I take some time and walk around to the 4 other tables of people, listening to conversations.. rehashing old memories, stories of those who have passed on, grandchildren being born, going to college.. some grandchildren who have their own families.. I meet Brock, whom I remember my grandmother telling me about. He is recently married and come to find out, he and I are both the “oldest” grandchildren in our own respective families. Of course, he & I are related – and we try to figure it out .. but it’s okay, we are related and that’s all that matters.
I venture outside, Sue & Tom’s backyard is (literally) just as beautiful as a park, the yards landscaping is immaculate with tall trees, various colorful flowers, a walkway that leads you down to a cute little bridge with a shallow stream of water that runs through it. I catch up with Holly, we talk about St. Bernards, her vacation in Cali and our upcoming vacation to Europe. Her son Jake leaps over the water, just barely making it with the tips of his heels touching the edge of the stream. He goes again, telling us this time – he’ll jump farther, and he does.. the little girls are busy picking up flower petals from the ground, bringing them down to float in the water.. they are enamored by how quickly the stream carries each petal away .. and they continue to gather more to throw into the water.
It is almost noon, and I’ve lost track of time, wishing for just this moment, time could stand still and I could spend just a little while longer. I know it will be probably at least another year before I’ll see everyone again, and there will be new stories to be told, mixed in with the favorite old stories as well. I walk back up to Sue & Tom’s home, snatch both my Aunt Barb & Aunt Dina for a quick picture together. We walk back inside only to take yet more pictures together with my granny, my aunt patsy .. these are the memories I’ll keep with me.. These are the relatives I will continue to build relationships with.. these are my Family Ties.