My mother was born in Oklahoma in Roger Mills County to George and Velma Nelson. She was the fourth of thirteen children. They moved to Texas when she was about twelve and they only had eleven children at that time. Before leaving they stopped at my great-grandmother’s house for lunch. After departing there and driving for a few miles they realized they had left Anne behind. When they turned around to go back to get her, they met Grandmother Nelson running down the road with Anne by the hand, Can you imagine keeping up with thirteen children? Feeding, clothing, education, and preparing them for life. Looking over my extensive family some were better prepared than others. But that’s another story.
My grandparents loved loved loved their family. I don’t know what kind of parents they were in their day to day life. I imagine if I asked I would get different answers from all of their children. But I do know they were wonderful, loving, giving, happy grandparents. They had 32 grandchildren, 40 plus great-grandchildren, and I’ve lost count of great-great-grandchildren.
There was nothing they enjoyed more than a great big family get together. My grandfather passed away in 1976 and family gatherings were really never quite the same. All of us cousins grew up and had families of our own. My grandmother passed away in 1999. A few years before her death we started having family get togethers in October to celebrate her birthday. She loved those times. Her blue eyes would twinkle and she always had a great big smile on her face. She was happiest with her family around her.
Since her passing we have kept up our family reunions in the month of October. Not everyone comes every year. But we always have a good turn out. Everyone brings their old pictures and we tell the same stories we told for years. Somehow we never tire of listening to each other. One person memory stirs up the memory in someone else. The day always seems too short and before we know it we are scattered to the four winds again.
This Easter I spent with a couple of my cousins that I had lost touch with over the years and have reconnected with in the last couple of years. My cousins talked about their parents (my aunt and uncle) and their children shared some of their memories of them. Watching and listening to their children and grandchildren, I couldn’t help but think how proud Ma and Pa would be of this new generation.
Time doesn’t stand still. We all grow old and watch our children grow and then their children grow. I love my family and see the ones who are gone living on in the faces and stories of those of left behind. We need our family reunions and our repeated stories passed on to the new generation. I think its important to know who you are and where you come from.