Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 Hall Family Reunion

We had the 2008 Hall Family reunion last Saturday. It was held at the home of my Uncle Vic so that he could attend - he is in the final days of his battle with lung/brain cancer. He overcame well-meaning objections by the hospice nurse and his wife to have the reunion at his home, and he enjoyed telling us that "I finally got my way!" It was a bittersweet time, but we could laugh and enjoy our memories because we share the certain hope of the Resurrection.

Having 47 years of reunion history was a comforting framework to gather within. We know how to do this! We all gathered in one room and recounted the events of the previous year. We remembered my cousin Tonna, who died last spring, and heard updates from several families members battling cancer. We rejoiced over weddings and new babies, children and grandchildren going off to college and laughed together at how the "cousin's generation" is coping with advancing age. (We were teenagers just a minute ago! Who are all these people with gray hair and bifocals?????)

There is a side story that will be recorded in book for this reunion, and it involves my father's 'branch' of the family tree.

When the plan for this reunion was first announced by Vic's sons, it was to be located at Rick's house near Plymouth, Indiana, which is about 70 miles west of where we live. A few weeks later, Vic's doctor told him that he probably had less than 3 months left, and so Vic asked that the reunion be moved to his house. Aunt Thais was NOT in favor, but they managed to strike a bargain. (Vic agreed to have their picture taken for their church directory.) The location was moved, and announcements went out. Just a week later, at his final doctors appointment, it was clarified that "less than three months" probably meant something more like "two to three weeks." They had their first meeting with the hospice nurse later that day, and she was adamant that having a reunion at their house 3 weeks later was out of the question. (To be fair, she was not yet acquainted with 'Hall Determination.') The location was moved back to Plymouth.

The day before the reunion, my dad called and talked to Randy, who told him that they didn't really think Vic was up to the trip to Plymouth, but that he was determined to be at the reunion, and his sons were determined to do whatever it took to make that happen. They were waiting to talk to the hospice nurse to make a final decision. I guess when faced with the choice of having her patient travel 180 miles round trip to attend the reunion, or having 45 people gather around him at his home, she changed her mind, and so once again the location was moved. An email was sent out on the group list that had been active for the last few weeks, making sure that each branch of the family was notified.

For our branch, the only email they had was for my brother Tim. Which, it turns out, he only checks every 3 or 4 weeks, so he had no idea he was even getting these emails.

Saturday dawned, and we loaded up 5 cars with people and food (including 8 babies & toddlers!) and headed for Plymouth. It turned out that for the first time in many years, my parents, my three brothers and I were all attending AND we were all going to arrive on time and within about 10 minutes of each other. Tim got there first and discovered an empty house. Thanks to cell-phones, three of the cars turned back before going the last few miles.

It's true that we were initially not amused that no one had called to tell us the reunion had been moved again, and we'd made that long drive for naught. However, we also understood that given the situation, they had much bigger things to deal with and so we 'shook it off,' turned around, and drove to Vic's house. Of course, our older cousins hassled us for being late and not keeping up with email, and we hassled them for still trying to hide from us. (We were among the younger cousins, and the big kids didn't always want us little kids tagging along!) I'm sure we'll be going back and forth with this for some years to come.

In the end, we were all glad that we had a chance to gather together to say goodbye to Uncle Vic, to express our love and support to his family, to laugh together and remember our childhoods together. And to share those "2 cookers-full of beans."

*Note: While I was working on this post yesterday, my brother called to tell me that Vic had been called from this vale of tears to the glory of life eternal.

+ Amen, Lord Jesus, quickly come.+

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