How I Enjoyed My Family Reunion
I've just returned from attending two family reunions. One took place in Deerfield, Florida, and the other in Athens, Georgia. I enjoyed both for different reasons.
I enjoyed the reunion in Florida largely because of two people. I will withhold their names, however they were dubbed the unofficial historians of the reunion. The young man whom I'll call "Chris" is only 28 years old at this writing, but he almost single handed made the affair enjoyable for most in attendance. His diligence in trying to connect the dots connected us in a way that has not been done in all the reunions that I've attended. Although I've not attended as many of the reunions as I would have liked,(since 1977), but the few that I've attended have paled in comparison to this one. Only because I've not gotten involved the way that I did this time. My involvement was proactively meeting and conversing with family members that I've never met. What a joy. (Let me add at this point, I understand that reunions that I didn't attend in the beginning could compare favorably to this one). I live in Southern California, and I met family members from as far away as New York, New Jersey, all over Pennsylvania and more. I now have more places to visit than Georgia and Florida, where a whole host of my relatives live.
An example of some of the relatives that I met were two sisters and their mother from Staten Island, N.Y. These three were beautiful in form and personality. They are world travelers, who's travels so far has covered parts of the four corners of the world. As a matter of fact their immediate plans include an Alaskan cruise. I horned in on their future plans and when I begin my new adventures, needless to say I'll write about them. I also met a wonderful young man whom I'll call "Chris," who we dubbed the unofficial family historian. He's 28 and so dedicated to the family, we can all take a lesson from his tenacity and determination in helping to tie our ancestral lines together. Oh yes and I met "Thelma," what a joy, I'm going to just call her to talk, or rather listen. She's another one that made attending more fun. Even though we didn't really call her a historian, she was full of useful information. And what personality!
I digress, back to the issue at hand. The lobby of the hotel is primarily where the reunion had the most impact on me and others, because it was there that the real reunion seemed to have taken place.
I'd like to explain why connecting the dots are so important. The African American experience has not been the same as most of the American population. By that I mean we don't have the same accurate records of our heritage, as perhaps others do. And finding our ancestral background in a lot of cases is next to impossible. So the best that most of us can do is go back as far as the end of slavery. Of course, some can trace their heritage back to the "motherland," as proven by the late author, Alex Haley(Roots). However, those of us that are not as fortunate have to do what we can to trace our ancestors. So when "Chris," presented us with a plethora of old photos in an effort to find out from whence we came, we "ate" them up. Not to mention the other unofficial historian, he filled in more of the holes. This is not to say that we completely connected all the dots, however we do know more now than we did when we embarked upon this quest.
An interesting experience was when my mother and her only remaining sibling, both being 83 & 86 years old, were presented with a photo of a young man with the same name as their father, they swore up one side and down the other that he was not their father. However when we found a photo of their father as an older man the resemblance was striking, and they both had to admit that it possibly was their father as a young man. What was amazing to me is that there are so many photos of individuals of the late 19th century and early 20th century. And because there are no names associated with the photos, we must rely on the older ones to give us what information they can, as to the the identities of these individuals, which is why family reunions are important. What a wonderful experience!
Not only did I meet heretofore unknown relatives, but I reconnected with some of the ones that I already know. I reconnected with my first cousins from Pittsburgh. The "crazy" (in a fun way), twins. Their two beautiful sisters and their mother the declared oldest living one of us all. The other set of twins, (guys), from another branch. These are people that I only see when I attend the reunions, and as stated, that's not too often.
I hope, in the future, there will be less new meetings and more of these reconnection's. Going forward, I do plan to attend more of the reunions.
The Second Reunion
I enjoyed the second reunion because of the pride I felt upon learning of the four brothers in one family that are physicians. Two Dentists, one surgeon, and one OB-GYN. (I only met three), they were not just a source of pride, but they are some of the most wonderful people you'll ever want to meet, with none of the pretentiousness that comes with having achieved such feats. Their families were just as wonderful. These four men are examples that should be used to show young people what you can in life with diligence, perseverance, and education, as opposed to the examples set by the entertainers of the world. (Another reason for family reunions). A little aside here, isn't it a shame that today's youth's prime example of what they can accomplish in life is propounded in the media as entertainers of any sort, athletes, badly performing reality stars, even worse music makers. Unfortunately most of these don't care how they look, in terms of their behaviour, to the public, as long as we support them, through our dollars, either through buying their products, attending their games and performances, etc. I'm just saying.
In conclusion, to say that I enjoyed my family reunions, was really an understatement, I utterly relished in them. So if you have not begun an annual or semi-annual celebration of family reunions. My advice is that you begin one, for the simple reason that you never know what you might find out about members of your family. Anyone in the family can initiate it. As a matter of fact one of our semi-annual celebrations had it's inception, in 1977, and was started by my cousin who at the time of it's inception was only 29 years old, (Oops did I give away her age, LOL).
Personally I feel reunions are important, because they shine light on people, places and events that otherwise would largely go unnoticed or unknown in our individual families. I might also add we become acquainted with family members that we might never know.
So just to reiterate, if you're not currently associated with a reunion in your personal family, why not begin one yourself, it will forever change your life, in my opinion, for the better. If you just don't know where to start, go to the Internet, there's numerous sites that can be of help. Whatever you do, don't pass up an opportunity to get to know your who you really are by way of where you come from.
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