Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reunion time of year

I was thinking about reunions today. Last year we had our week-long, once-every-5-years reunion with my mother’s family. It was a very interesting event. It was held at Camp Perry, a military base on the shores of Lake Erie between Sandusky and Toledo at the beginning of June. It is always enlightening to meet with family members you haven’t seen in years. Everyone looks older to you, even though you live with the delusion that you can’t possibly look nearly as old to them. It is never really the same as it was when you were kids and your cousins were like best friends to you. They change, you change, the world changes. Lives move on.

But it was a fine adventure. The place was swarming, quite literally, with Mayflies. They covered every outdoor surface. It was so bad that they crunched under your feet as you walked, and the base staff came by every morning and swept the beasties off the sidewalks, entrance ways, and the doors and windows of the rooms and cabins so you could enter and exit without letting a thousand of them inside.

We ate at interesting places and had two huge family dinners, one at Camp Perry and one at Put-in-Bay. There were family outings to Put-in-Bay of course and to Cedar Point. I have to admit that my immediate family skipped the Cedar Point trip. Having a daughter that worked there for four straight years, we had pretty much had our fill of amusement park fun. So we packed up in our cars and headed to Kelly’s Island.
We drove all over the place there, investigating the glacial grooves and a winery near the center of the island. We stopped at a famous eatery for lunch and had their famous Brandy Alexander by the pitcher. It was a really nice day with my own immediate family.

After four fun-filled days at Camp Perry, the majority of the attendees hopped on a bus and headed to Washington DC. Not wanting to subject Mom to the long bus ride and extend the trip home by having to return to Camp Perry to retrieve the car, I decided to brave the DC traffic and drive. We managed to get there in one piece. It was a relief to stay in a REAL hotel after four days in military housing. Our reason for being in DC was a little more somber than the family gathering. Two of my uncles were being interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Both served at officers during WWII. They were slightly older than Mom, and she needed to be there for the ceremony.

I have to say that I have never been more moved in my life than I was when I entered that cemetery. My heart cried. If you have never visited there, you really should go. If you see nothing else in DC, you need to see Arlington. The enormity of the sacrifice it represents is indescribable. Row, upon row, upon row of white crosses; flag-covered, horse-drawn caissons; and mournful resonant music bring tears to your eyes even if you’re not there to bury one of your own.

More on reunions later.