It’s hard to remember now that Nicole used to be shorter than I am! This was taken at the “Bailey Reunion” near Terre Haute, Indiana in 1998. Derek’s grandmother was a Bailey — in fact, Nicole was very nearly named Bailey.
FAMILY REUNIONS are a treasure trove to any writer. I’ve lost count of the number I’ve attended, but many of them have special sections in my generally disorganized mind. Picture a massive walnut table (I love walnuts) scattered with an assortment of manila file folders, each one marked with a year of my life. Inside, you’ll find a list of favorite songs, addresses (I moved frequently — often every year — doesn’t everyone?), and hosts of names, some with corresponding photos, others whose photos have either disappeared or been misfiled. The table is dusty, but the folders are well-thumbed. Among these treasured memories are those pages marked ‘Family’.
When I was a kid back in Indiana, we got together with my aunts and uncles on an almost weekly basis. Family Reunions, on the other hand, took place on a singular day each summer, when Kentucky and Indiana relatives merged into one massive throng in our favorite grove inside Clifty Falls State Park. The annual event provided grown-ups with opportunity to swap triumphs and tragedies alike, births and deaths — marriages and divorces — jobs gained and jobs lost. The kids — most of us cousins — scattered to the rocky trails, rekindling friendships and sharing a simplicity lost to children today.
Back then, a reunion meant scads of food, running with my cousin Bud, and drinking my Uncle Lynn’s Royal Crown Cola (a cherished commodity not sold in southern Indiana at the time). There’s a lot to be said for the phrase “blood is thicker than water”. No matter how much time passed between visits, a cousin’s laugh meant more to me than almost any other. And it still does. Family is family.
Sadly, I don’t have many actual photographs of those cherished gatherings. I’ve learned to take lots of them in passing years. But even without the physical proof, those file folders are ever available to me — stacked askew upon an aging walnut desk. The older I get, the more often I visit that desk and turn through the pages. God gave us families — blood-forged friendships that shape us and shield us and anchor us to God’s great ground. He also gave us memories — His precious photography — and while these too may fade or become misfiled, I believe the originals are all waiting for me on a massive walnut desk inside a marvelous mansion prepared for me by Christ Himself.
Inside that place, I’ll laugh again with family who’ve passed on before me — and I’ll finally meet my Savior face to face; then I can spend eternity thanking Him for His sacrifice on my behalf.What a reunion that will be!