Bon Appetite Julie Powell

Photo Credit: NY Times 2022

It is late. We are in a long season of caring for our daughter and her only son, Elias. Yet I felt inspired to sit at my computer, which is collecting dust, to pay tribute to Julie Powell. You may not recognize the name, but you most likely know her. Julie Powell’s story was featured in a movie in 2009 titled, Julie and Julia. Meryll Streep played Julia Childs and Amy Adams played Julie. It is a true story filled with many touchstones to my own life.

Imagine my sadness when I found out that Julie Powell died last week, October 26th at the age of 49.

I didn’t know what to think. This movie impacted my life in a profound way. It was the exclamation point to my new endeavor of blogging which had begun just months before in 2008. It also was a catalyst to my love of cooking. Her story mattered to me–every blog post, every recipe, every disappointment and achievement.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Julie. In the movie you asked if what you did in life mattered. Yes. It did. You took the time to put in words your adventure of cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes in a single year. While watching the movie I had to keep reminding myself that you really did this–Amazing! Your passion was evident. The scene of you stirring chocolate cream pie into a pie dish was mouth-watering. As was every recipe you prepared throughout the movie.

As you paid tribute to your beloved Julia Childs she helped you realize something…

“Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It’s not what I thought it was. I thought it was all about–I don’t know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there’s something else, something that these things grow out of. It’s joy.” – Julie Powell

Joy is found when you pursue the things for which you were created to do.

A cardiac arrest took your life suddenly leaving behind your husband, Eric, of 24 years. I learned you both met playing the leads in a romantic play at your high school. What a loss he must be experiencing tonight. My condolences to your family and friends. Although we never met, I felt as if I knew you. Our love of writing and cooking was a deep connection that gave me the courage to pursue my own passions with joy, so thank you!

I’ll close with a quote from the movie with a chilling reality.

“So the end may be a long time coming, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a way of sneaking up on you.” – Julie Powell

Sadly, your words rang true. Bon Appetite, Julie.

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Buddy

He was my 1st cousin, but old enough to be my Dad. His children (my 1st cousins, once removed) were the cousins I played with, hunted Easter eggs with and spent the night with at our grandmother’s (Big Mama’s) house. This was in Clermont, FL. What used to be a small citrus community west of an also unknown town called Orlando.

It used to take us all of 30 minutes to drive to my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. We watched for the only landmark among acres of orange groves during our drive—The Citrus Tower!

How times have changed. Clermont and Orlando are nearly inseparable. But I will never forget my growing up years and the adults who watched over me.

I learned last week that he left this life. I cried remembering the ways he helped our family through the years.

He was in the citrus business as was his dad, granddad and great-grandad before him. But he watched the industry dissipate. It was such a sad day when he bought the last 20 acres of groves from my Mom to develop it into a neighborhood. Of course we were grateful he was able to do this from a financial standpoint. But my Mom and I never went back to Oswalt Road in South Clermont after it was fully developed. Not because we weren’t happy for how he had taken the next step in our family’s story, but because we wanted to remember what was. My Mom moved there from Oklahoma when she was only 9 months old. This was her hometown!

Richard “Buddy” Oswalt went to be with the Lord last week.

I loved his laughter, his pranks and the way he loved life. Following is the tribute his three surviving children wrote about him. You’ll see what a man he was by the legacy he leaves behind.

Buddy was born on September 16,1937 in Clermont, FL. to Vick and Frances Oswalt. Buddy was a lifelong resident of Clermont, graduating from Clermont High School in 1955.

He passed away peacefully on September 26, 2022, surrounded by his loving family at his home in Clermont.

He married his high school sweetheart Gloria in 1957, the love of his life. He was employed by his father Vick Oswalt who owned Oswalt Grove Service, a citrus grove caretaking business. He became his dad’s right-hand man. His mother Frances was the office manager and bookkeeper. During his lifetime he also was involved in several ventures always connected to the citrus industry. B&O Dragline, Florida Air Spraying, Lake-Sumter Fruit Dealers and buying several orange groves through the years.

He belonged to the Clermont Jaycees who at the time built the Clermont Jaycee Beach. He was also a Clermont City Councilman for 4 years.

After the Citrus Industry in this area was devastated in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he began thinking of new ways to use his grove land. He attracted a few home builders who were looking for land to build homes for the new residents moving to this area. His son-in-law, Bill Thomas, custom home builder, built the first beautiful brick home in Crescent Bay on South Lakeshore Dr. on Crescent Lake. There were several more neighborhoods built throughout Clermont and South Clermont on Oswalt Land, one being on a family property originally owned by his Great Grandfather & Grandfather, purchased for a citrus grove in 1920.

He loved ranching, hunting, fishing, working and being in the outdoors. One of his special loves was growing things. He enjoyed growing oranges, lemons, avocados apples, peaches, blueberries, pecans, asparagus, flowers, and his favorites, daylilies, hibiscus, and flowering trees in both Florida and North Carolina. He took great pride in everything he did.

In the last 15 years, he enjoyed his mountain home on Cranberry Creek extending his love of water from Florida to North Carolina where he and Gloria spent the summers. He had the best of both worlds enjoying all the spring, summer and fall flowers and leaves. They met many friends through the church and the community where they lived.

He dearly loved his wife of 65 years, the love of his life and his family and especially spending time with them telling stories and making everyone laugh!

Survivors include, his wife, Gloria, daughters, Vicki O. Thomas (Bill), Becki O. Young (Faron) and son Mark A. Oswalt (Sara) He was preceded in death by his son Richard E. Oswalt, Jr. “Rick”, his father, Vick Oswalt and mother, Frances Oswalt, grandparents William and Grace Oswalt.

Grandchildren, Stacey Padgett, Stephanie Giraldo, Michael Kirkand, Mason Oswalt, Grace Oswalt, Lily Oswalt and Holden Oswalt. He has 6 great grandchildren Hunter and Joshua Crumbo, Madison and Makenli Kirkland, and Isabella and Ryan Giraldo. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Brothers, Tom Oswalt (Shirley), John Oswalt (Carol) and sisters, Carolyn Bond (Wayne), and Dianne Russ (Charlie).

Funeral services will be held Friday, October 7, 2022, 2pm, at the First United Methodist Church of Clermont. The family will receive friends starting at 1pm at the church.

May he Rest In Peace!

Waves, Coasters and Journeys

My last question was asked by Jeanine Byers of the Hallmark Christmas Life blog; “How do you – meaning you, personally – navigate ongoing grief and loss?”

Such a good question that has needed time to meld in my mind before responding. And I have prayed about the best way to do so.

Grief has been compared to waves that come and go, a roller coaster with highs and scary lows, or a journey that takes you places you never wanted to go. All are excellent comparisons. The thing is I have personally felt every one.

The waves of the sea are said to come in sets of 7. And the stages of grief are also said to be 7. Just as the waves vary depending on the wind above the waters surface, so too does my grief vary based on the winds of my emotions. Some days all is calm, other days the wind is violent and difficult to navigate through.

Jeanine watched a movie where the end hit her hard. I call those “rogue waves” that hit out of no where. She didn’t see it coming so the affects it had on her were greater.

Movies and music provide touchstones (parts that connect to you on an emotional level or shared experience). I’ve found when this happens the best thing to do is like a big wave—roll with it. It won’t last and it may be that my tears have been building and need release.

However, I have to guard my mind when it happens. Or I get on the emotional roller coaster that leads no where.

The grief I have experienced recently has left me sad. My brother died of Covid, but God determined the day he would take his last breath. This gives me peace because God is in control, I can trust Him.

Life is a journey and God has chosen an exit for each of us. He would that all of us believe in Jesus Christ for this is the door to eternal joy.

I have hope as a Christian knowing I will see my brother and my parents again one day in Heaven. My parents were both older (Mom 90 and Dad 81). My brother was only 66. He had so much ahead of him he hadn’t experienced yet. And that would be sad if this life was all there is. My belief in Heaven has made all the difference. He is experiencing a level of life now that I can only dream of.

I highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. He has spent his life studying and forming a theology of Heaven that is compelling.

This is how I process ongoing grief, but everyone is different.

The best thing to do is to listen to those who are grieving. I’ve heard cliches are not helpful and I’ve found this to be so true for me. Just be present and let your grieving friend share. We don’t ever move on from the loss we’ve experienced, but we do move forward, some faster than others.

A good friend is there for the ride—whether it’s rolling waves, scary coasters or long road trips—whatever is needed.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭ESV‬

This is my 27th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

My Brother, My Friend

My brother died on a Monday. It was unexpected. He was supposed to get better, but he didn’t. We were left reeling from this new reality and aware that we had to plan his Celebration of Life service. It would be small–immediate family only. But good friends made it possible for us to offer a Live Facebook of the service as well as a You Tube video available now at the bottom of this post.

Following is what I shared. I have much more to say about this experience and what God is showing me through the sadness, but not yet.

Bill Gray – 1954-2021

I want to thank all of you who are joining with us on-line how much your prayers and encouragements have meant to our family these last 5 weeks. It has been one of the hardest seasons we’ve faced and you have helped carry our burden. Words seem inadequate, but it is all we have to give. Thank you.

I am Debi Walter, Billy’s little sister, and Bettie is Billy’s older sister. I am sharing today on behalf of both of us what my brother means to us. Bettie was born in 1953, Billy in 1954 and I was born in 1959. My Dad was a pharmacist with his own store and soda fountain. It was a great time to grow up. 

Billy took great delight in teasing both of us as often as he could. But I still believe I got the brunt of most of his attention. He made up all kinds of games with the excuse of being able to tease us. Like “Flinch”. If he acted like he was going to hit you and you flinched, then you had to let him hit you. Being 5 years younger I usually let him and had the bruises to show for it. I’ve heard he was a lot like my grandfather. They both loved to fish and loved to tease those they loved—unmercifully.

Billy and his good friend invented the group hug. But it wasn’t a pleasant experience when it first began. If you were caught in the middle between the two of them it always hurt. But they laughed and I learned to laugh too. Now the group hug has become a tradition in our family whenever we are saying goodbye. No one ever knows who will end up in the middle, but the younger ones fight to be caught in the center of it all. Lots of love goes into those hugs. Like holding on tight because we don’t want to let go.

Another game was a take on the pool game Marco Polo. But instead of calling out “Marco” with your eyes closed, you called out “splash”. Wherever you were in the pool you had to splash. The idea was to tag someone making them “it”. I always managed to be “it” because I wasn’t fast enough to tag anyone, especially my brother or his friends. One time I remember being caught between two of them while they both splashed me. My brother accidentally splashed my ear and caused my ear drum to rupture. He felt bad and I felt worse because I wasn’t able to swim for the rest of the summer. I was often the casualty of his games.

It’s strange how stories from when you were young that used to cause heartache, become the very things you’re grateful for as adults. 

My brother loved me and my sister very much. But I didn’t realize this until we were adults. Being the baby of the family I know I was bratty. I most likely asked for much of the undesired attention he gave me. 

On family vacations I would always end up in the middle of Bettie and Billy in the backseat. Invariably, Billy would say, “Hey Bettie, want a fight between you and me?” And they would both start slapping me. I would cry. My Dad would yell for us to stop. And Billy would grin in my face, bragging that he got me.

Yeah, that’s what we did on road trips before iPhones, screens and DVD players were available in cars. We played games, sang songs and ate candy my Mom packed from my Dad’s candy counter at the pharmacy.

When Billy went away to The University of Florida (Go Gators!) My sister was already married to Dennis, so I was home alone. I missed him so much. And I think he missed me too. He sent me a card once that he had drawn of our toothbrushes side by side. His had racing stripes on it and He said he couldn’t wait to have tooth brushing races again. It sounds silly, but as a 15 year old this card meant so much to me. It was true the adage that says, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”. It certainly did for us.

He graduated from U of F the same year Bettie graduated from nursing school at Valencia, the same year I graduated from high school. Major events for all of us that prepared us for our life ahead.

Our family attended Powers Drive Baptist Church. This is where we made many lifelong friends. Many of whom are watching today. It was at this church where we each were saved, baptized, and married. We grew up realizing the power, love and support there is in being in a community of believers who love Jesus. We are so grateful for the impact this church and its members had on our lives.

In 1978 Billy found the love of his life, a cute blond named Sherry Newmons. He brought her home to our house for Sunday afternoon dinner. We could tell this was the one he had waited for and we fell in love with Sherry too. At this same time Tom and I began dating and got engaged too. Once again we were doing a major lifetime event together. In 1979 we got married only 5 weeks apart. My poor parents! They never complained about how difficult having two weddings so close together would be. But it was fun sharing this season of life together.

All three of us had our children at the same time, which was fun watching cousins become friends.

That’s our history. When my Dad died in 2004, my brother took on the role of caring for us in the ways my dad had—providing medical advice and help whenever it was needed. He helped us through some very frightening times, most recently with two of our grandchildren. I’m so grateful for the way he loved us, cared for us and was there for us.

My sister and her family are here today and I know if she were able she would also talk about their adventures. Bettie and Billy had a special bond. They were only 14 months apart so they did everything together. Just recently Bettie and Dennis and Billy and Sherry went on vacation to see the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. Tom and I were unable to go, but I am so glad they had this time together. The photos and memories they made are precious today.

I don’t know what the future will look like without Billy here to make us laugh, give the best hugs, share funny stories, offer support or to help us in our times of need. But I do know that Billy would tell us all—what really matters is this – make sure we know and love Jesus by living our lives for Him and his glory.

Billy is seeing his Savior face to face and I believe if he could he would say, “Whatever you do make sure you are ready when it’s your turn to enter eternity. Live for Christ! You never know when your days on earth will be over. Make every moment count!”

Sharing From The Heart – Just As I Am

Yesterday I was given an unbelievable honor. I was asked to speak at the funeral of the pastor who led me to the Lord. It was a privilege I didn’t take lightly. I prayed that God would help me capture with words what this man meant to me, and that He would give me the strength to read it. He answered my prayer and following is what I shared.

Anyone who knew Dick Milham was impacted by his love for the Lord, for people and for life itself. He was a faithful friend and made himself available to our family on countless occasions.

Our family started going to Powers Drive Baptist Church in the early 60‘s when I was only 4 years old. I don’t remember when Pastor Milham started leading our church, but I’m grateful God sent him to us.

The year was 1969. I was ten years old and sitting in the pew between my mom and dad as I did each and every Sunday. But this time when the familiar hymn began to play–

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

My heart nudged me to go forward. I was afraid, so I asked my Dad to walk with me. When we got to the front, Pastor Milham met me and said he wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and that there was no hurry. He asked if I could come to his office and discuss what this decision would mean for me? I said ok.

Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one, dark blot;

To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Over the next three weeks I went to his office while this dear man with a huge heart for young people explained the Gospel. He made it clear that this decision would change my life forever. And it did!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind;

Yes, All I need in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Once he knew I understood the decision I was making and what Christ had done for me, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized on December 21, 1969.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

I’ve know many friends over the years who, as adults, were re-baptized because they said they didn’t understand what they were doing when they were young. Because of Pastor Milham’s kindness and patience with me I have never had that experience. I knew exactly what I was doing and it has been the foundation of my life to this day.

My sister, Bettie, shared this memory she had with me and said how it has helped her countless times throughout her life when facing trouble.

During a Sunday message Pastor Milham must have been going through some tough times and shared this analogy with the church: He got in a boat and rowed out into this big lake to have time alone with the Lord and maybe he could get some answers. As he was out there a big storm blew up all the sudden. As he saw the far shore line he started to get worried about getting back to shore, but noticed a piece of paper in the lake a few yards from him. He heard the Lord tell him to row for that paper, then there was another and then another and before he knew it he was back on shore. He realized then the lesson the Lord was teaching him, there may be something really big and almost unreachable in front of you but if you take it step by step or paper by paper and keep your eyes on the task you will get there.

Photo Credit: Walldevil.com

Just as I am, though, tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt;

Fightings within, and fears without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Pastor Milham was the real deal. He shared his life with all of us, and was there for all the moments when we needed him most. He came right away when my Dad was dying from brain cancer and sang by his bedside because my dad loved to hear him sing. There were no accolades, no audience’s applause, just my dad needing to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown

Has broken every barrier down;

Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Pastor Milham, you are now before the throne of God and your faith has been made sight. What a celebration must be taking place as all of those who were influenced by your life, faith and love, have welcomed you home.

I am forever grateful for the foundation of Truth you laid for me that I am still standing on today. I pray my life will influence others for God’s glory the way your’s has impacted mine.

Richard Milham 1934-2017

Orlando Sentinel Obituary

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And So It Begins…

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I’ve started to do research again for my second book. It happened yesterday when I really didn’t have the time to do it, but I just did. Sometimes that is  when I get the most work done, when it’s spontaneous and not planned.

I’m setting up a timeline of events beginning in 1907. There are many moments I am very familiar with, but I know that when I start to write her story I will relive much of the emotions Grace must have walked through. It is a privilege to document her life, her struggles and her faith in God. I am part of the story–her legacy, but I must admit that there are events she walked through that I pray I never experience.

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Marion W. Oswalt, b. 7/1/07, d. 7/20/08 Leonard E. Oswalt, b. 3/20/09, d. 1/21/10

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Vincent b. 11/2/1912, d. 3/19/1920

These are the grave markers of three of Grace’s children, my Mom’s brothers. I know I’m giving away part of the story by writing this post, but as Halloween is tomorrow, I wanted to make a statement that death isn’t something to trivialize.

In our writer’s group this week, one member shared how he has been affected recently of the reality that we will all die soon. Most of us are in the second half of our lives–our children are grown, our time is more available to do the things for which we’ve dreamed, and realizing the brevity of life will help us push past the excuses of why we haven’t completed the writings God has laid on our hearts to write. We were sobered and convicted to make sure we do those things that are of most importance to us.

Time is short.

It took me 12 years to write Through The Eyes Of Grace. In 12 years I’ll be 67, if the Lord doesn’t take me home. I have no guarantees. I must DO, not talk about doing. I must write, not think about writing. It is what God has called me, as a writer, to do, so I’m starting with this post. I hope I haven’t rambled too much, but sometimes getting a rusty engine going again takes lots of puffs and sputterings. Soon my computer keyboard will run full speed into writing the rest of Grace’s story. Won’t you pray for me? Prayer is the fuel I need to keep pushing through until I discover what it is God wants me to know and the story that is of most importance for others to read. Our stories matter because they are his story–our history.

And so it begins…

 

Happy Mother’s Day

My Mom is no longer here for me to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. So to honor her, I decided to make a special Pinterest Board sharing photos, blog posts and songs of all the things she taught me.  I miss her so much, but I’m grateful for the legacy she left behind. Click the photo below to see it. Make the most of Mother’s Day this year by honoring all the Moms who have touched your life.

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Resolved

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Today I am 54. 54! How did that happen? I know, I know, the answer is simple–one year at a time. But wow.

This is my first birthday without my Mom and Dad, who were used by God to give me life in July of 1959. My Dad led me down the aisle of our little baptist church in 1969. It is strange to no longer have parents here, but they’re not gone. They’ve just relocated to a better place. And because of God’s gift of salvation to me on December 19, 1969, I will see them again. Until that day I am resolved to live out the rest of my years in glorifying the One True God who gives life to all who call on His name and choose to follow Him.

Jonathan Edwards was considered to be one of the greatest American philosopher/theologians of his time and was a key figure in what has become known as The Great Awakening of the 18th century. He has been quoted as saying:

“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman trial has received unbelievable media coverage this past month. We live only a few minutes from Sanford, FL. so it was with great interest that we stayed up with the trial. When that February night occurred in 2012, neither Trayvon nor George knew that their lives were going to be permanently changed as a result of the choices they made. My point isn’t to discuss which side was right/wrong, for both lost in my opinion. But their case stands as a stark reminder of Mr. Edwards quote. I ask myself,

  • Am I living today as if it were my last?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • If my epitaph was to be written tomorrow, what would it say?
  • Better yet, what would I want it to say?

I heard someone suggest that we take time to write the epitaph we would want written about us today. Then, make our choices based on that goal. Of course, even those who have the best intentions can’t always guarantee their life will play out as planned. This is why my epitaph should reflect God’s work in my life and not my own plans.

A couple of great epitaphs include:

George Washington

LOOKING INTO THE PORTALS OF ETERNITY TEACHES THAT THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN IS INSPIRED BY GOD’S WORD; THEN ALL PREJUDICE OF RACE VANISHES AWAY.

Benjamin Franklin

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer (like the cover of an old book, its
contents worn out, and stript of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for
worms. Yet the work itself shall not lost, for it will, as he
believed, appear once more In a new and more beautiful
edition, corrected and amended by its Author

Finally, I found this site that lists over a hundred great epitaphs from which to choose. Take some time and consider which one would best mark your final resting place. Then, live each day to make the statement true.

A Short Love Story

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Today I want to share with you a short story I wrote awhile ago. I’ve posted it on The Romantic Vineyard, since it’s a love story. But it also fits well with this blog on family history. I hope it stirs in your memory similar stories you’ve heard from parents or grandparents. Be sure your children and grandchildren know these stories, for it’s part of who they are. Knowing them also gives them direction for who they’ll become.

Click on the following title to read the story:

Vito’s Coffee Shop

What Weddings, Funerals and Reunions Have In Common

Photo Credit: qcveterans.com

Photo Credit: qcveterans.com

A reader posted yesterday about how she discovered more about her family’s history at her uncle’s recent funeral than she ever had before. It’s sad in a way to think we don’t talk about such things until there’s a death. In fact, this is the opening scene of my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace. At my grandmother’s funeral I am given a beautifully wrapped gift. I want to put off opening it until later, but my Mom insists on me opening it now. Here’s a portion of it:

As I plopped into the black leather seat I felt something crunch underneath me.  It was the gift I had seen on the table!  This was all I needed to deal with now.  I tossed it aside no longer interested in the who or the why questions that had incensed me before the service.

Mama picked up the gift, “Gracelyn, this is for you.  Don’t you want to open it?”

“Um, no! Not now.”

“Why on earth not?”

“Oh, Mama! It’s just not right.”

“Gracelyn, I insist.  It may be the giver will be at the dinner.  You’ll want to be sure to thank them.  I really think it best to open it now.”

Mama usually had the last word, and this time was no exception.  I have learned it’s best to do what she says.  Picking up the gift I slowly rip the paper away revealing a stained wooden box that smelled much like the old church we had just left.  Lifting the lid I discovered the source of the scent – a worn out leather journal.

“What’s this?”  I asked casually hoping my excitement didn’t show.

“I’ve seen this before; why, it belonged to Mama.  See the engraving – Grace Stella Oswalt?”

As I opened the cover a note fell on the floor.  I picked it up only to discover it was in Big Mama’s handwriting.  The brief excitement drained from my fingertips as if the dead were calling my name.

“M-Mama, you read it.”

Dear Gracelyn,

I am an old woman now, and time is running out for me to share with you my story.  I’ve waited for you to ask, but now the waiting ends.  You are my youngest granddaughter, and one who reminds me so much of myself.  It is my prayer as you read this journal you will grow in your understanding of who you are and to whom you belong.  Your life is not your own to live as you want.  I learned this the hard way, and I pray this journal will help you after I am long gone.  Read it well and remember, although life is brief – love is forever.

Affectionately,

Big Mama

I sat there in disbelief as the limo came to a stop.  I wasn’t sure if I was happy to have this gift or angry she singled me out as needing special help.  Maybe it was a little of both, but as hard as it was to admit, I was comforted.

Older family members tend to talk more at reunions and weddings as well. So it’s not just during the saddest of times, it’s more at the pivotal times when family is elevated and given the prominence it deserves. Many young people roll their eyes when they think of going to a family gathering, especially if there’s going to be old people there who only remember them when they were knee high.
We had our first family reunion of distant cousins a few years ago here in Orlando. People traveled from all over the country, but the majority flew in from Oklahoma. My Mom had the time of her life. At 87 she was the oldest living family member there, and everyone had questions to ask her. We made a huge family tree on the wall of our meeting room and asked those attending to bring pictures in order to tape it next to their name. This helped us realize how far reaching our roots have spread in the past century. I also happened upon a conversation starter called Table Topics for Family Gatherings. This ended up being my favorite part of the entire weekend, because people told stories we had never heard before–and we laughed. We laughed until we thought our sides would split.
May I encourage you, if you have the privilege of being invited to a family reunion this year, instead of being the one to roll the eyes, why not look at it as a great adventure where you’re setting out to discover things you don’t know about your family. And then, come back  here and let us know what you’ve learned. A story become more permanently fixed in your mind when you’ve repeated it to someone else.
We all have a story, we just might not know it yet!

Questions #11 – Have you ever been to a family reunion? What was it like, who was there, and what stories did you learn?

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This is post #11 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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