Reunion Time

John_join_me-vi-1It’s summertime and that means it’s hot, and people are traveling, and it’s time for our family reunion (on Maggy’s mother’s side of the family). A lot of people make mother-in-law jokes but I’ve never been able to do that with any kind of genuineness. I married into a great family. The family reunions have always been a lot of fun and brought together a large part of the Chandler family in Ruleville, Mississippi. (Named after the Rule family, who were Christian Church folks – at least that’s what I heard many years ago. I did actually meet Leethy Rule, who was quite elderly at the time and also quite nice. I did not check any of that out on Wikipedia, but I have it on better sources – the memories of people who lived there for more than half a century!) Ruleville is a lot like our family. It has gotten quite old, some of it is falling apart, and yet there is an undying strength and determination to do the best they can with what they’ve got. There’s a certain kind of pride in the Mississippi Delta that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s not that important to have a lot, but great effort will be made to make sure that it appears that you do.

As it always is with reunions, if you keep having them long enough, the attendance begins to dwindle. True, there are those who just get too busy for these kinds of old fashioned things. But the more gritty reality is that when we gather Saturday at the Ruleville Community House there are simply less of us than there used to be. Such is the course of the human journey. It comes to an end.

Maggy’s dad is no longer with us – leaving quite an empty place. He was so funny and never failed to entertain with a story. They improved over time (He would have loved Uncle Si on Duck Dynasty, their stories are pretty much the same!). Maggy’s mom is still with us, though very much diminished in her physical ability, and somewhat diminished in her ability to think and communicate clearly. Aunt Marie, Uncle Bill, and Cousin Cindy all passed away earlier this year. We all certainly were weary of gathering at Ruleville Baptist Church for one funeral after another. In our minds will be John Robert, and we will miss his laughter there. Other Aunts and Uncles and beloved family members have also passed.

So it is entertained by some that we not do this reunion thing any more. Though Aunt Maudine and Aunt Evelyn are in Ruleville, neither are in good health. Uncle Ray and his wife will find it hard to make the trip from Alexandria, Louisiana. It is doubtful that Aunt Catherine will make the trip from Ocean Springs. The Chandlers were a big family and a strong family. Age and health problems have taken their toll. The cousins will make up most of this crowd and all will be glad to see one another.

There is some threshold we cross somewhere along life’s journey when we realize the road ahead isn’t as long as the road behind…and we need to keep up with those precious loved ones as best we can.

It’s a lot of work, and cousin Gloria is the spark plug that keeps it all going, thankfully. We will assist her in every way we can. While we’re cleaning up as everyone goes home we will wonder if it was worth it …all this work, sweat, chasing grandkids around trying to make them behave. Until we look around and realize that some of the folks that were sitting here last year aren’t here this year. And the truth is that with such a large family it is likely that not everybody here this year is going to be here next year.

So, yes, we will meet again. And on a spiritual note, the concept of reunion is one reason I remain steadfast in my Christian commitment. I’d like to finally get to a reunion that doesn’t diminish as people lose life. I want to be at a reunion where you have to keep making room at the table, the food never runs out, and you never have to put anything away. I’m looking forward to a great reunion day. I hope you are too.

Thanks for reading,

John