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The Graves Family Reunion
Returning To Our Hometown To Gather with Family Members
A Weekend of Fun, Love and Unity
The origin of the Graves Family Reunion, began more than 100 years ago when Gaddis Graves met Rena. After long days of repugnant work in the fields, Gaddis proposed marriage to Rena, she accepted and they were married in Marion County. Eventually, they had three children Melvin, Lawrence and Elease. Unfortunately, all of these family members are deceased although they left an eminent legacy of inspirational individuals. The Graves Family consist of persons with a variety of strong religious beliefs. Some volunteer their time and efforts in service of Almighty God Jehovah and his son #Jesus Christ, Baptist, Non-Denominational and #Muslim. We do not allow our beliefs to destroy the love and respect, we have for each other.
A variety of our family have different levels of education, from Masters, Bachelors to Associates degrees. There exist no levels of superiority, based on educatinal accomplishments or lack of. They are hardworking people in the fields of social work, public relations, law enforcement, retail sales, nursing, pharmaceutics, preaching and teaching, communications, acting, athletics, electrical and we also have a professional wrestler. Members of the Graves family, continue to exhibit traits of love and kindness based on the teachings of God's word the Bible. Our weekend celebration focused on the children of Gaddis and Rena, who are both deceased. The reunion was a complete success because we were reminded of our family history. It encompassed Friday, at Myrtle Beach for a delicious barbeque, Saturday, in North Carolina for a fish fry and Sunday, we returned to our roots in Mullins, South Carolina for a climatic banquet. Join me for this historical event, through the words of this page as you are introduced to some unique individuals which create that unit called, "a family."
The First Event For Our Family Reunion Weekend was Held in Myrtle Beach, SC
On Friday, we arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which is about forty minutes from our hometown of Mullins. We stayed at the Sonesta ES Suites. Once we unpacked and settled in, a family barbeque awaited us by the pool and Jacuzzi. We greeted each other with kisses, hugs and thanks to Jehovah God that although we travelled numerous hours, we arrived safely without any catastrophe. Family members enjoyed a swim in the pool and restful minutes in the Jacuzzi before dinner. Memories were shared about the tobacco and corn fields, we passed and worked in, as children growing up in this area. Some of these memories were special but some were harsh.
An alluring breeze from the lake on the left of the resort, caused aromatic smells of charbroiled barbeque to consume the air. My brother-in-law Chuckie and brother Wardell, prepared sumptuous meats such as barbeque ribs, chicken, hotdogs, hamburgers and hot sausages. These scrumptious odors, brought people out in record numbers to partake. My niece Katrina and her husband Ricky, had also prepared a variety of delectable salads and desserts which enhanced our meal. During dinner my sister Doris explained, how some of our family had enjoyed a class reunion picnic in the park the day before. We laughed about the success of a fish fry within this event that was prepared by my brothers, Edward and Wendell. My family was fortunate enough to see classmates from the 1950's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and up to the years of 2013. Doris, also explained how she enjoyed seeing such a diverse group at the class reunion picnic. It was a source of delightful association and encouragement. The evening of our family barbeque, ended with great anticipation for the remainder of our family reunion weekend.
Saturday's Family Reunion Activities Included the Myrtle Waves Water Park in Myrtle Beach, SC and A Fish Fry in North Carolina
Saturday morning, our family gathered for breakfast downstairs at the Sonesta ES Suites. We feasted on grits, Spanish omelets, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, fruit salad, hot and cold cereal, juice and coffee. Our laughter during the meal was distinct and contagious which drew family members toward the same tables to celebrate togetherness, once again. We spent more than an hour teasing each other about, who is the greatest fisherman which my brother-in-law Chuckie, proclaimed. My identical twin sister Paulette, has also become a force to be reckoned with regarding her fishing skills. Therefore a playful challenge developed between her and Chuckie. My three brothers also joined in on this challenge, to prove that they were exemplary in their fishing skills as well.
Our morning was bolstered with excitement for the day's events. After breakfast, the majority of our young family members attended a waterpark in Myrtle Beach. Seven year old Maleek and Michael, expressed how much they enjoyed the Myrtle Waves, oceanfront water park. Other family members attended a fish fry at my sister Earlene and husband Alex's house in North Carolina. The fish were caught by my two brothers, Edward and Wendell, along with Paulette and I. This caused the fish fry to be even more meaningful. We then completed our delicious meal of deep fried fish, cleaned and cooked by my brother-in-law Alex, who is also a renown fisherman. Along with the fried fish, we indulged on coleslaw, tossed green salad, fresh corn on the cob, sweet tea, lemonade and fresh watermelon for dessert. Afterwards, we relaxed on the deck as a gentle summer breeze penetrated our souls.
Under the blueish, gray country skies, we recalled fond memories as children, raised by our single mother Elease, the youngest child of Gaddis and Rena Graves. My father Earlie, died at a young age which forced momma to raise twelve children without a husband and father. At times I contemplated, "What my mother must have felt, when she returned home after the funeral of my father, with twelve children depending on her for support?" We received comfort as each of us recalled her famous words, "God will make a way." My mother was right. Without a lot of prayers to Almighty God in the name of his son Jesus Christ which we often heard our momma call upon; we would not have survived. She instilled within each of us to, "Put God first in your lives before anything else." All of her children are God fearing, educated and not one ever spent time in prison. This record for a single black mother of twelve, is impeccable even for today's standards.
My parents had a total of fourteen children, two died before the death of my father. Elease, taught each of us to be humble, strong and loving. We laughed about how she would give the shirt off her back, to a person in need although twelve children depended upon her as well. Eventually, each of us worked to help support the family. These were difficult times but we survived. After the fish fry, we stayed at my sister Linda and her husband Randolph's house. There was little sleep, due to the excitement of seeing my mother's oldest brother Melvin's children, as well as her other brother Lawrence's children. We travelled back to our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina for the culmination of the Graves Family Reunion.
On Sunday, We Greeted Each Other, Played Games, Reminisced, Enjoyed Our Food and Performed Songs for the Closing Events of the Graves Family Reunion
The climactic stage of the Graves Family Reunion had arrived. We once again travelled through winding country roads, laced with tobacco and corn fields. Beautiful gardens filled with beans, tomatoes and peppers greeted us as a part of this potential promised land. This special event was held at Milton Troy Senior Hall, on Front Street, in Mullins, not far from where we played and grew up as children. We embraced each other upon our arrival. It was time for the program to start before dinner. A welcome address was given to the family by my sister Doris, a true diva. Memories flooded in our minds as a childhood poem was read by my cousin Bruce entitled, The Creation by James Weldon Johnson.
My brother-in-law Jerry, performed a visceral saxophone rendition that captivated the audience. A blessing was presented for the food by Randolph, my brother-in-law. After the meal it was time for entertainment and games. Michael, Elijah and Joshua, the grandsons of my sister Paulette, also performed a song that touched our hearts as well. The program continued to be filled with fun as some family members performed Gladys Knight and the Pips', Midnight Train to Georgia, except there were pipets that sang backup for the fake Gladys. Laughter filled the room as people joined in singing this song.
Toward the end, awards were given for each graduate from first grade up to college levels. Contributions were also given to Duran, the grandson of my sister Linda, so that he could attend a National meet for track and field. Applauds and acknowledgements were given for Mrs. Alice, who is 85 years old and one of the oldest members of the family. She is also the mother of my sister-in-law Tina, who is the wife of my brother Edward. Another 85 year old family member recognized was Mrs.Graves, (now deceased) who taught us as children in elementary school. She is the mother of my cousin Bruce and wife of Melvin's son Dan, who is deceased. Numerous other family members were acknowledged for being 70 years or older. My nephew Jermaine, son of my deceased brother Buddy, received recognition for his travels from Florida, along with his wife and children. Family members such as my sister Janie, her husband Henry, my sister Lean and her husband Alex, along with our cousin Donnie and her husband Hoyt, have been married for more than fifty years.
The Graves family has demonstrated tremendous respect for the marital arrangement, given to them by Almighty God. We have had very few divorces and we are thankful for that. Our cousin Bruce's son-in-law, who is married to his daughter Nicole, was acknowledged for winning a wrestling match, he had participated in the previous night. Cousin Brother, who served as a judge in the area previously, closed the program out by reminding us to watch for his nephew Gervace, who would appear on the television show #Survivor. He is the son of his sister Shelby, who is deceased. Gervace, appeared on the first season of this popular television series.
Closing Remarks and Future Plans for Our Next Family Rennion
Closing remarks were given and plans were made for our next Graves Family Reunion. We were thanked for our participation by the main organizer Katrina, who was assisted by Carol, Betty, Edward, Wardell and Doris. Everyone in attendance then received gift bags filled with useful items. It was a day that consisted of a family's love, joy and peace. We are not a perfect family but we try to do the best we can with what we have been given. Our family reunion weekend was well attended and will never be forgotten.
#Family reunions, have existed from the beginning of time. Each year Jehovah God required that the Israelites, attend festivals three times a year based on Exodus 23:14 which states, "Three times in the year you are to celebrate a festival to me." Large and small families united together at these reunions. Jesus Chris, at the age of 12, attended one of these #festivals where he stayed behind in Jerusalem after the gathering. Three days later, his parents found Jesus in the temple, sitting in the midst of teachers listening and questioning them. (Luke 2:41-52) Families continue to gather today, based on the perfect example established by our Lord and Savior, #Jesus Christ, who is an imitation of his Heavenly Father Jehovah. Family togetherness, was vital during Bible times and it remains impactful today.
The Graves Family Reunion, was triumphal in encouraging family love, unity and togetherness. Like billions of families that exist on earth today, we experience problems and confront them, as we look to our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus for answers in the Bible. We are a family of various races which is a source of pride although we give thanks to our Grand Creator, for our diversity. From the creation of Adam and Eve, we are part of a universal family that is admirable because of our unique appearances and individuality. May these qualities continue to be a blessing and not a curse, due to #prejudices that exist worldwide. It was a pleasure to introduce you to my family. May something within this article be a source of encouragement or inspiration for your family.
In Memory of A Great Teacher and Family Member
Since our family reunion, we have loss in death some of our precious family members such as Colon Graves and #Dorothy Graves. So many of us were taught by our cousin Dorothy Graves, in Junior High School. My sister Paulette and I as well as our twin brothers Wendell and Wardell along with my niece #Joyce Platt, were her students. I can remember walking in her classroom with a source of pride because she was married to my first cousin Daniel Graves. Although we were relatives, Mrs. Graves always maintained genuine professionalism and dignity. She was a source of pride for our family as one of the #black teachers in the early 60's and late 70's. Mrs. Dorothy, could command the attention of our boisterous class by hitting the desk with a ruler and saying, "Let's be quite now." We knew when she spoke those words, it was time to give her our full attention. Mrs. Dorothy, would smile and continue teaching our class. Her smile was magnetic and inspirational. Mrs. Dorothy, will always have a special place in my heart and may Jehovah God keep her in his memory.
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Michael, Elijah and Joshua perform at the Graves Family Reunion.. Lookout world for the next Jackson Five. They performed Michael Jackson's, "I Can't Help It" f
For more information on similar conventions that Jesus attended while on earth, go to website below and click on "conventions."
- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Official Website: jw.org
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Our official website provides online access to the Bible, Bible-based publications, and current news. It describes our beliefs and organization.