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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)

TITLE: The Gathering
By Shannah Hogue


Once a year, I go to my family reunion in a little rural town in New York State.

Just after Memorial Day, the gathering is held, a time to be outside with people we love and share stories, reminisce and catch everyone up with where everyone else has been for the last twelve months.

Uncle Pete and Aunt Betty will be there. Betty has heard Peteís stories about the War a hundred times. But she patiently listens again, as we fill in details that Pete no longer remembers. He doesnít mind.

Grandpa Hunter always sits next to Pete. His jokes are bad puns mostly, but we repeat them and laugh because he loved to please us that way.

My mom and dad are just glad we come. For a number of years, I couldnít make it. Now, though, I never miss, and I think they love that. They have always been proud of my brother and me, to the point of embarrassing us. But thatís just them.

Of course, many more are there, waiting for all the stories I have to tell. And this year, I have lots of stories to share with them all. The birth of my first grandchild, a little girl who is the light of our life these days, will make my grandma happy. My dad will want to hear all about my husbandís retirement. And Iím dying to tell my mom about the masterful garden I grew last summer. She always did love a lush, green summer garden.

Yes, Iím definitely looking forward to spending time with the family this year. I miss them very much throughout the year. And as I get older, I realize just how much more I miss them every year.

So I go. Sometimes my husband comes, too. Sometimes not. The children rarely make it, though that may change over the years. It did for me. But whether or not I have anyone else with me, I have to go.

I am drawn with a bond of stories and memories to that back corner of the little country cemetery. These are my people. The stones mark the places where those I have loved the best and the longest are waiting for me. And some day, I suspect Iíll wait there with them, looking forward all year to the arrival of my daughter or my son, as they stop by to spend an afternoon outside with us, reminiscing and catching us up on everything that everyone else has been doing.

It will be heaven on earth.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 06/12/08
I enjoyed "meeting" each person at your "Gathering". You've captured all the little things that endear family to us, "Betty had heard Pete's stories about the War a hundred times." I always visit the cemetery when I'm able to return home (once a year) too. I enjoyed this nostalgic piece.
Ed VanDeMark06/14/08
Early on you mentioned three things that caught my eye. I too had an Uncle Pete and an Aunt Betty (my father's brother and sister) and I to live in a small upstate New York community. Our last reunion however was 1997 just days before my mother died. Thanks for sharing the joys of your family. Keep telling your story I'm sure you'll connect with many other readers. Have a happy reunion this year.