I will never forget that as long as I live. I was a kid, and I had gone to my Mamaw and Papaw's for the weekend. Nothing unusual about that, as I spent a lot of time in that little white house on Morrow-Rossburg Road when I was young. But this time, this was different.The yard was full of tables and chairs, and there were dozens of cars parked down under the hill. The Gilbert Reunion had come to Pleasant Plain, Ohio, and it was a sight to see. Great country cooking and men pitching horseshoes and the singing of hymns highlighted this and many other reunions to follow.
In years to come, the reunion grew into an all out event. Dinners and fellowship at the Breaks State Park, Breakfast at Aunt Betty's, church on Sunday morning, and the often mentioned and world famous auction (see "The Pocket Watch" here: http://buckeyemike3373.blogspot.com/2010/12/pocket-watch.html ) all became hallmarks of the annual gathering. The Gilbert family, comprised of the descendants of Dink and Easter, proudly carry the legacy of a close knit, God Fearing, hard working family. At my grandparents all those many years ago five siblings (Milford, Margaret, Betty, Juanita, and Eula Grace were in attendance that day) told the stories of growing up Gilbert while their children and grandchildren soaked it all in. The generations that followed have been lucky to have been raised in this extended family, and we pass those Gilbert values down to those who follow us.
Today we once again gathered to pay homage to where we came from. The 37th edition of the Gilbert Reunion was held at Sandy's house. My mother's cousin, she and her children made everyone feel very much at home at their property in Southern Ohio. We fellowshipped and I introduced my boys to some of the family with whom I grew up. We sang the hymns, had a little church, played some cornhole, and put our money up for the auction to help fund reunion 38. I shed a tear as I remembered my Mamaw as we sang Scarlet Purple Robe, then a couple more as I saw my mother's photo on the quilt. It was a bittersweet day, and I am blessed to have been a part of it.
I had not been to a reunion since my mother left us in 2009. She has joined a growing list of people whose memories we now honor each year instead of being there to celebrate with us. And while the pictures on the quilt and shared memories bring a great level of comfort, I struggled with certain moments today, both grateful to experience them and missing those who have left us.
With how much life has changed since that terrible day 4 and a half years ago, it was good to be in a place where I can remember where I came from. It was good to be around family who not only remind me of my Mother, but have so much in common with her. And it was good to show my guys the solid foundation on which all of us were built. Because whether we were born in or joined by choice, whether the last name is Slusher, Hodge, Bromberg, Foster, Wills, Grim, Mason, Matney, or Varney, we are Gilberts. It is hard to imagine a better legacy than that.
Day #182. Missing my Mom but feeling like she is right here, it is good to be me.