Thursday, July 28, 2011

Family Reunion – Summer Trip Part 3

"With a holy host of others standing 'round me… I'm going to Carolina in my mind." (James Taylor, "Carolina in My Mind")

After we left my hometown in Georgia, we drove on to my sister’s house in North Carolina to attend the reunion of my father’s side of my family. (The same people who skydived at our reunion two years ago.) We are all descendents of my paternal grandmother, who would have turned 97 this weekend. Besides the reunion and Grandmother’s birthday, we gathered to have a surprise party for my Uncle John’s 70th birthday. He’s the oldest surviving child of my grandmother, so he is now the patriarch of our clan.

We lined the road in front of my sister’s house to welcome his arrival._MDS3509

He pulled up, accepted hugs and a beer, then flashed his Sheriff’s badge. He elected himself sheriff of our family two years ago, and he loves to walk around and remind everyone that he’s “da Sheriff!”_MDS3529

My sister and my aunt planned quite the party. My sister had a tent installed and rented tables and chairs._MDS4088

She put together cute centerpieces highlighting the birthday boy’s life._MDS3591

She ordered the cutest Sheriff cake…_MDS4107

…and had the baker make adorable jeweled cupcakes to represent Grandmother’s jewelry that we all “cherished” after her funeral. (*Ahem.* Loooong story there…)_MDS3671

She brought in a bounce house and all kinds of yard games._MDS3627

She lives on a small lake, so there were canoes to paddle…IMGP3252

…and fish to tease, snakes to shoot, and docks to sit on and ponder life._MDS3999 (2)

As if that weren’t enough, my sister Mary had 20 people spend the night in her four-bedroom home, three people in a tour bus in the front yard, and set sixteen other people up at nearby condos. We had people coming out of the woodwork!_MDS3877-

We had amazing food, including hand-picked peaches that tasted like what I *hope* heaven smells like._MDS3575

I found a new favorite drink. It’s sweet-tea-flavored vodka mixed with lemonade. Yum! (Yes, this photo is out of focus. Which is what happens when you drink sweet-tea flavored-vodka!)_MDS3542

We watched while some family members performed amazing party tricks._MDS3611

We toasted each other and “the perfect woman…” (“How could I ask for more?”)_MDS3682

I took over 700 photos. My uncle also schooled me on the multiple exposure feature on my camera. (Cool!)IMGP3299

We laughed. A lot!_MDS3687

Someone (I’m not mentioning names!) hit someone else’s car. Oops!_MDS4145

I met a few relatives for the first time._MDS3800

And I got to watch one of the newest relatives start to explore the world._MDS3739

I walked away with a sense of belonging and gratitude for the family who came before me and who created this nest of people I love. (Yes, EVEN the crazy ones. Ha!) We had a fantastic summer trip, great visit home, and family reunion!_MDS3936-

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