Thursday, May 8, 2008
After a few years off, it was good to see the return of a first Sunday in May tradition.
Uncle Mack did the grilling, others brought some of their favorite dishes, everyone did their share of the eating and the smiles and hugs were plentiful. The family reunion was back.
We combine it with the annual Decoration Day at Cedar Tree Cemetery in Hackleburg, Ala. I realize Decoration Days aren’t common in all areas. But it’s been a part of my family since I can remember.
And the cemetery where my father, all of my grandparents and other relatives are buried was as beautiful as ever.
I walked – starting at Daddy’s grave, across to Pawpaw and Mawmaw Frederick’s and then to Pop and Mom Burleson’s.
Even though the cemetery stop is brief, each visit rekindles special memories of my loved ones. I grew up in a family environment where family was extremely important – second only to God. And that’s something I continue to instill in my own children.
We took a few years off from the “dinner on the grounds” at Uncle Mack and Aunt Kay’s. They live in the home once occupied by Mawmaw and Pawpaw. So going there stirs those fond memories even more.
And it’s a tradition I hated to see fall by the wayside.
That’s because it’s the only time of the year I get to see the folks on the Frederick (my mother’s maiden name) side of the family. And family reunions seem to becoming a thing of the past.
Young people today don’t seem to enjoy them the way I did when I was growing up.
Maybe we’ve lost our sense of family somewhat. If so, that’s sad.
Plus, we seem more spread out today (various towns and states) and busier than ever before.
Our attendance this year was small, but that’s OK. We renewed the tradition. I was the only member of my family able to attend – due to sickness and a ball game.
Others had the same hectic schedule – a few had to work, some had other commitments with their children, plus I have an uncle recovering from a transplant.
Someone told me the other day that the bulk of the family reunions these days come when a loved one dies and we attend a funeral.
I know I need to make a commitment of visiting folks more often. I need to take a day off every once in a while and simply drive to Alabama and see some folks – family and friends.
Maybe by writing it, I will more likely do it.
I did see a good friend Sunday, too. James Cantrell, a college buddy who was in my wedding, and his family live in Hackleburg. He had stopped by Uncle Mack’s before I arrived, looking for me. So after food and fellowship, I drove a few miles to his house.
I thought I might need directions, but once I got in the vicinity, it all came back to me.
James and I were somewhat rivals in high school. He played baseball and basketball for Hackleburg. I played baseball and basketball for Hamilton.
But once in junior college, we became best of friends. We started playing softball on the same team and we just hung out together a lot.
His wife Amy helped my wife Pam pick out her wedding dress.
Unfortunately, we have not stayed in touch very well over the years. A few months back, he either called me or sent me an e-mail, so hopefully we’re back in touch for a long time.
We talked about meeting halfway, in Tupelo, sometime for dinner. We’re also talking about possibly meeting in Birmingham in a few weeks for the SEC Baseball Tournament.
Problem is – so often these days it seems we talk about getting together with family and friends – then something gets in the way. Usually that something is less important.
Personally, that needs to change.
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