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.