Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sixty-Two Cousins

Sixty two cousins and that is just on my mom’s side. No, we weren’t Catholic or Mormon - we started out Mennonite. Many of my cousins still follow the Mennonite traditions but most have moved to other protestant denominations, some attend no church at all and a few claim to be Atheists or Agnostics. Many of the first cousins are now grandparents.
This is the group that made up Grayquill’s family reunion last month. Out of the eleven uncles and aunts the oldest is 93 and the youngest, hmmm…I don’t know, how about 70? Neither attended the reunion but my aunt at 91 years old did, along with five of her siblings. Out of the eleven only one has passed on.
My favorite part was seeing cousins that I had not seen for 40 years, doing so well, with great families and living life with a strong faith and trust in the Creator and our Savior Jesus Christ. I had to laugh at myself when I met JS again I was sure he would have ended up in jail. He now had 8 children, I can’t remember how many grandchildren but watching those little ones crawling all over him, hugging on his neck was a delight I cherish.
Stories were told of great sorrow, great hardship, and not talked about scattered along the way are two cousins that had been killed in car accidents, and, two other cousins that died shortly after their birth.
An aunt talked about the difficulty of when Grandpa left the home when child number eleven was just nine months old. She told of the creativity and diligence Grandma used in keeping that gaggle feed and clothed. No store bought underwear was in that house hold. Grandma sewed them all out of old flour sacks. Old coats were acquired and then ripped apart, re-sewn with the inside turned out and the liner then sewn back in making the garment look nearly new. And she told how late at night grandma would gather up hole worn shoes and put on new soles so they would be ready to be worn the next morning.
An uncle told how the boys at age fourteen were sent out to work and how all their earnings had to be sent home to help the family but at age eighteen they were then allowed to keep half of their pay.
Mennonite folks learn to harmonize early. So, when the singing started we were all there singing the old hymns. Instruments of several kinds came out of their cases a violin, mandolin, and several guitars played background. For several songs I bowed my head and just listened to the musical praise right along with the angels.
Grayquill’s family reunion was a great time to recount where he came from and to be grateful for a heritage passed down that came with no little ease.

22 comments:

Debra said...

Sounds like a really great family reunion. I too have cousins that I have not seen since childhood in New Orleans. We share a lot of memories...some of those memories are kinda painful, some are good though. I've had the good pleasure of hearing singing by some mennoites and the harmony is so very beautiful!

Hope you and your Mrs. have a great Wednesday Grayquill, and take care, enjoyed reading this post very much!

Arkansas Patti said...

First off , Thank you. Every time I meet a Mennonite, I have to say thank for an amazing act of kindness I recieved 40 years ago that I have never forgotten. You can use my blog search if you are interested in details. Please accept my thanks.
It is wonderful that you have such a large family. I only have one first cousin on each side of the family.

Choco said...

I was so moved by your aunts tale..It is the difficult times that help us grow the most...
Thanks for sharing.
Had to google Mennonite, but now I know. :)

The Survivor said...

Sounds like you had fun.

I don't think I have that many cousins, would have to start counting for that :)

Anonymous said...

Were you referring to Jerold, Ralph's son? (J.S with 8 kids?) If so, I'm curious why you thought he'd end up in jail? (I'm his oldest daughter) :)
I enjoyed your blog.

blunt edges said...

my mom is the youngest of 10 siblings...n the large family reunion is something i haven't had in years, what with all the families and cousins living in different corners of the globe...lucky u grayquill :D

Grayquill said...

Arkansas Patti: I will be looking for that post. I will accept thanks whether I deserve it or not. Usually I don’t deserve it but I like it.

Choco: My aunts and uncles are amazing people. I have some pretty amazing cousins also.

The Survivor: Start counting I want to know exactly the number. I would say my time was more interesting, intriguing, inquiring and found myself being continually inquisitive.

Anonymous: I am glad you enjoyed my blog. I cannot confirm or deny anything.
I refer you to my post Creepy Blogs: http://www.grayquillmusings.com/2009/03/creepy-blogs.html
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You could email me if you like.

Blunt edges: Has anyone told you in the last 24 hours that they appreciate you using whole words with all the letters in your writing? If not, here it is. I appreciate the compete words in your writing with all the letters. Thank You.
Just so you know not even half of the cousins showed up. We wouldn’t have had room for them if had. shown up. Sounds like you would be in the same position. With 10 aunts and uncles, I think you would be surprised how many would show up. Start planning.

Grayquill said...

Debra: First to comment and the last to be acknowledged...how you feeling about now? Kind of insignificant? I am sorry!! You got lost up there in the stratosphere in windowless space.
Thank you for your very kind words. I hope your Wednesday was good. Maybe it is time to plan a trip to New Orleans – please don’t choose hurricane season though. I am interested in your story when you heard that great harmonized singing.

Anita :) said...

Many of us havent experienced a family reunion like the one you just explained...Touching write up. And...40 years..! thats clearly long time, it would have been so emotional!

Grayquill said...

Arkansas Patti: I found your post of the story of your experience with a Mennonite commuity. An amazing story. I am pretty sure that kind of selflessness did not get passed on to me. If any are interested in a great read below is the link - you won't be sorry http://thenewsixty.blogspot.com/2009/04/mennonites.html

Grayquill said...

Anita: I am glad you like the posting. Do you come from a large family or a small one? There were for sure some emotional moments.

Rose said...

How wonderful to have such a large family. The stories you hear at reunions are often so amusing. Of course, there are the sad ones, when you find that family members have passed away. I have so many wonderful memories of our family reunions. Ours were large gatherings as well. There were 17 kids in my mom's family and 9 in my dad's and when you throw in all the outlaws you get quite a gathering! I really enjoyed reading your blog. It brought back plenty of memories for me. God bless you and have a great day!

Anita :) said...

I come from a family where situations are not so great to hold family get togethers in the maternal side... big and fun enough to have great gatherings from paternal side, but people scattered across continents..:-( So get togethers with people of the same blood is something I never experienced !

blunt edges said...

nope...noone's said that 4 more than a week...thanks accepted :D:D:D

ps: u can keep saying it every now n then (yup...u guessed it right...shamelessness is one of my traits) :D

Lynda G. said...

There is nothing like family. Thank you for sharing. I loved the image of you listening to the music. Lovely...

Grayquill said...

Rose: Throw in those outlaws most are worth keeping. Let’s see 17 + 9 = 26 , now that’s a gaggle times 2x. And, its also a bunch – wowzer. How long did your grandma live after giving birth to 17? That’s gotta be a record of some kind.
Thank you for you kind words!

Anita: There is an expression in the Mennonites it is called, Mennoniting across America. This practice is when someone plans a trip with stops each night at some Mennonite family and stays the night. It keeps the costs of hotels to a minimum, you might want to try it across continents. Think of the possibilities.
I would like hearing about those family ‘situations’; we might have more in common then you think.

Blunt Edges: You are so welcome :)

Lynda G: Hi, I thought maybe you hated me or something – Been a little busy starting school? Good luck with those parents. Music is really an amazing medium – God did good when he created music.

Anita :) said...

The family 'situations' are a bigger tale than what I can even imagine. It all happened in childhood days, I've seen more than most people my age might have ever seen. It brings blood rushing into my veins. GRRR. ..But what a solemn and peaceful reunion u had, Grayquill...Im jealous of u!

Grayquill said...

Anita: I am very sorry!! :(

Lynda G. said...

Grayquill,
HATE YOU? Never! :D I have been absolutely S W A M P E D this week! What a culture shock after two months off as well as working only part time last year (due to an injury)! It is GREAT to be back, however...just re-learning how to to do the balancing act between home and school.

How are you?

Grayquill said...

Lynda: Whew... Swamped can be a lot of fun at least you are not getting board. Good Luck with your new mob.

martireeder said...

Wow. Well. As a relatively "innocent bystander" at the same reunion (as well as 3 previous), I have to say I will never cease to be amazed at the heritage found in your family. As a Queen Anne, Seattle city girl, with only local 3-generation family members and NO Christian heritage, I am blessed to be able to say I am a small part of your family.

Grayquill said...

Martireeder: I guess you are the beginning of a new heritage, and that is no small thing.
Exodus 20:6