This past weekend, twenty-three of my family members gathered together in Gulfport, Ms. to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. It was a beautiful tribute to my mother, and I know she had fun. I spent a lot of time sitting back watching everyone, and making mental notes on what I loved the most about each. I was aware that no matter what personal issues we brought with us, nothing got in the way of everyone being together as a family.
My mother, the matriarch of our family, and the last of the older generation, seemed to be in a state of grace the entire weekend. She was loved and honored and she had the ability to sit back and take it all in. The love that flowed towards her was boundless, and we all basked in the overflow. She enjoyed the food, the gifts, the “This is Your Life Pearl” DVD my brother made for her, the family stories, champagne, martinis which she got to drink in a specially decorated 90th birthday glass, the casino action, and poker playing at the condo with family. It was a special time and she took away many lasting memories of a beautiful family get together.
THOUGHTS ON MY FAMILY
My cousin Denny cooked the best chicken and pork sausage jambalaya for dinner on Friday. Denny is close to everyone in the family and is more like my brother than my cousin. He’s generous, good-natured, loving and lovable, and would stand on his head for his family, if he felt he needed to. He’s one of a kind and loved by all.
MY BROTHER AND HIS FAMILY:
Wally (my brother)- made the DVD for mother, and is a good, kind, and thoughtful son, husband, father, and brother. My bubbee is a logical, careful planner, and is a great one to have around when it comes to planning an event. He made the trip to Ms. months ago to check out the condos and set up a booking contact for us. He also took care of reserving the room to enjoy our family time in. The love between my brother and I, and our mother, runs deep and we share a special bond.
Lucy (my sis-in-law)- Lucy’s usually in the background watching to see who needs what. She is very nurturing and observing and when she spots a need, she moves in to fill it. Children flock to Lucy because of her wonderful “mother-heart.” I love, and I like, my sister-in-law, and I totally enjoy our moments together.
Anthony, Stephanie, and Harlee Louise(my brother’s older son and family) Anthony and family drove eleven hours to spend twenty-four hours with their with their grandma for her special weekend. My nephew told some funny Cajun jokes and kept us laughing into the evening. Stephanie walked around spreading cheer with her smile that says, “glad to see you”, and she and I had a few special hugs and moments. Harlee Louise, eleven, got to spend time with her girl cousins who she rarely sees, and to be part of those who witnessed the importance of honoring family. I especially appreciate the comfort and respect my nephew and his wife have towards each other. It makes it easy to be in their presence.
Andy(my brother’s younger son). Everyone was glad to see Andy. This young man loves his family and he got to spend time with cousins he hadn’t seen in a while. My thoughts of Andy are always of a big tender heart that reaches out and pulls others in. I so love this precious nephew of mine.
MY DAUGHTERS AND THEIR HUSBANDS:
My daughters, Melissa and Marlon, are not only sisters, they’re close friends. When you saw one over the weekend, you saw the other. They’re great playmates, both have a similar sense of humor, and they laugh a lot together. They delighted in taking care of their grandma and sharing a condo with her. They took my mother to the casino to play the slots, and she was in seventh heaven. My daughters stood next to their grandmother, giving hugs, kisses, and special touches to the machine, in hopes of charming it into paying off. They appreciate their grandma and reveled in her the entire weekend. I love my girls and it was good to be with them.
Phil (Melissa’s husband). My son-in-law spent most of his weekend making sure my great-granddaughter, 6-year-old Ceda, had fun. He took her across the street to the beach so she could play in the sand and swim in the Gulf, he played with her in the pool, and he was probably Ceda’s favorite playmate of the weekend. I’m glad Phil made it to the reunion, because my mother cares for him as much as he cares for her.
David (Marlon’s husband). My other son-in-law helps to remind us how blessed we are as a family, to have such loving relationships with each other. David is a gentle man and he comes up behind people, leans over and bestows a hug as he asks, “Are you doing okay? Do you need anything? I love you.” He’s a good husband, an awesome father, and I’ve told him many times that I wish I’d had a father like him. Everyone loves David.
MY SONS AND THEIR WIVES:
Mike and Mac. Like my daughters, my sons are not only brothers, they’re good friends who hang out together whenever they can. One lives in La. and one in Va., but they see each other often. They spent their time together over the weekend, cooking our dinner for Saturday night, making grocery store runs for everyone, entertaining the older children, and sitting by the pool with the rest of the family. My boys are very different in nature. Mike is older, is studious and serious, is committed to doing his part to help restore virtue and morality to the country, and is a family man. He’s been a hands on dad since his twin girls were born, and he devotes his life to being there for them. Mac is very tender-hearted, full of kindness and generosity and love for family. His nieces and nephews are special to him and he’s usually aware of what he can do to contribute to their lives. Mike and Mac are both good, loving men and are very dear to my heart.
Jen (Mac’s wife), and Candace (Mike’s wife)-YaYa is what Jen and I call each other, because we know we’re part of the sisterhood of women and are connected to each other in our hearts. Jen is happy-go-lucky, generous, high-spirited, and she spreads joy and good-will wherever she goes. She’s good to my son and loves our family. Her energy is boundless and I’ve found over the years that I can’t keep up with her. Candace is a lot like Jen, in that she’s someone you want to have around when there is any family event going on. Candace is very kind and has high moral standards and values. She’s what I call a good soul. She’s a great stepmother to my granddaughters and I see her tirelessly putting forth her all to create a comfortable, loving environment for her family. Sharing a condo with these women was fun and I knew if I needed anything, they were there to help.
Ali and Zoe (Marlon and David’s children), and Maddie and Reagan (Mike and Candace’s children). Ali is nineteen and is studying to be an Early Childhood Teacher. The twins, Maddie and Reagan, are fourteen, and Zoe is eleven. It was amazing to watch these four girls, with the difference in their ages, have so much fun together the entire weekend. They were a foursome and they pretty much were joined at the hip. Every once in a while Ali would peel off so she could have some alone time, and get to be around the adults. But for the most part, she spent her time with the younger girls. On quite a few occasions, they’d include little six-year-old Ceda in their plans. They all showered love on their great-grandmother and were so present to her, and the fact that it was a special birthday celebration.
MY BELOVED HUSBAND:
Last, but certainly not least, my sweet Paul, who is the type of person everyone likes to be around. He is quiet, very gentle and soft-spoken, slow to anger, and usually on an even keel. He loves my family and they love him in return. He spent a large part of his time making grocery store runs with my sons, and just enjoying being with everyone.
We are a group of individuals who came together to celebrate my mother. We don’t always get along, sometimes there’s a tiff going on between us, but in the end, our family ties are strong. Whenever we gather together, there is a lot of love and celebration. I wish everyone could know my family, and could be included in our gatherings. It felt good to finally be in a place where I could sit back, look at everyone, and see the best in them, and then be able to write about it. I’m glad for the chance to tell you about my family and to share my weekend thoughts with you.