I met Bill’s relatives through their Christmas cards with scribbled messages of an idyllic childhood farm life. They all lived hundreds of miles away and plans to get together never seemed to work out. Finally, I lobbied for a visit with them. It did not take much to convince him to take a summer road trip back to the farm.
My guy had mentioned it casually for years – He’d like to revisit the farms where he spent the summers of his youth: catch up with his cousins and their parents; meet children and grandchildren, show me the ole swimming hole and where they ran the combine.
And here we were on Route I-81, heading for upstate New York. He had contacted family members up north who made it happen and we were on our way to a fish fry; their family version of a reunion.
As we drove northward, I tried to picture how each would appear to the others. What would have changed; what stayed the same for all this time. Some of them had not seen each other for 40 or 50 years. For others, the visiting gap spanned at least a decade.
As they showed photos and swapped stories, it was evident that these were people who respected and admired what each had become. I could see how their shared experiences early in life had influenced decisions made in later years. They sang, laughed, and shed a few tears with their memories.
When it was time to leave, amidst goodbye hugs and promises of visits to come, I was really thankful for the folks who had not just talked about reuniting but made it happen. They closed the gap of people related by blood and separated only by geography.
P.S. That reunion has remained a fond memory for many years now. The in-person get-together sparked Internet communications and phone calls that have kept us all in touch. Someday we may even get around to Zooming.