My cousin Darleen Vanderberg organized another great family reunion one Sunday evening at the Northside Pub. This year she included some of our second cousins, the Willick family. The banquet room was filled with relatives getting reacquainted and sharing pictures and stories. I hope everyone felt as much love in the room as I felt. That night on the way home my thoughts drifted back to some great childhood memories.
I remember our family reunions playing baseball with our cousins and being so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to catch or hit the ball as well as they all could. I remember Uncle Clarence and Aunt Hazel always bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken as their dish to pass and thinking they must be rich. I remember Grandma Beckman’s brown eggs at Easter and popcorn balls at Christmas. I loved hearing Uncle Bob’s laugh and Auntie Ann’s quick wit and honesty. I remember having adult-like conversations with Aunt Beattie and her never being in a hurry to end our conversation and Aunt Irene always taking a special interest in what we were involved in at school.
One of my favorite memories as a young adult was when Uncle Lee and Auntie Sis surprised Mark and I in Baltimore a few months after we were married. They were traveling by motorhome with their good friends Zeek and Violet and decided to visit us as they made their way back home to Michigan. That same day Mark’s sisters Vicki and Patti arrived for a short visit. They were headed to Florida for Vicki’s spring break and decided to detour to Baltimore to visit us. After everyone got acquainted we decided to go to dinner. Mark was working and wouldn’t be home until the next morning so I was a little nervous thinking how am I going to entertain two completely different groups of guests. Well, I should not have worried because it turned out to be a very fun night. After dinner we all went back to our apartment and Mark’s sisters made an alcoholic drink called Hop, Skip and Go Naked and we colored some beer green because it was St. Patrick’s Day and played a card game called Spoons and laughed like crazy. The next morning Mark came home from work so he could spend a little time with our company before they went on their way. After everyone left I felt a new closeness to my Aunt and Uncle and my sister-in-laws and we gained a couple of new friends in Zeek and Violet.