Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge-Day 12-Family Reunion

Family reunion is a time for members of different branches of the same tree to come together from near and far to rekindle that spirit of connectedness. We had first learned of the George Family Reunions in March of 2005, when Cousin Hattie sent us a long-awaited, handwritten letter from her home in Yonkers, New York.
March 29, 2005
Dear Cedric and Debbie,
At long last I am able to write you a few lines. You have tried so hard to connect with your roots and family members. I'm very happy that you are doing this. I am enclosing a Family Reunion Booklet that covers to the fourth generation. Several of the children of the fifth generation are anxious to extend this to the fifth and sixth generation. In fact they have scheduled a Family Reunion for July 22, 23, and 24th of this year. I am enclosing all the information regarding this event....
....I hope that you and your family will travel to Havelock, N.C. very soon to see the place of your ancestors....
Cousin, Hattie C. Becton 
That year proved to be one of great happiness and many challenges. We were unable to attend the reunion because both our children would be graduating: our daughter from college, and our son from high school; one in the morning and the other in the afternoon on the same day. But one of my husband's brothers was able to attend with his wife.

On a picture post card canceled from Macon, Georgia on July 25, 2005, he told us that he was able to see "the old Carter land" and took some photos. Later on he mailed me a disk of grave stone photos from the Carter Family Cemetery and a copy of the family reunion booklet.

In September, Cousin Letitia wrote to me about the success of the reunion and how glad she was that my brother-in-law and his wife were able to attend. She enclosed a revised version of the family reunion journal as a "thank you gift for all your dedicated research and help with the family history information." She adds, "There is still much family history to be researched and discrepancies in the history that have to be solved. I look forward to working with you on this history real soon."

The 2007 family reunion was the first we were able to attend, and we were no longer living in Western Massachusetts, but had relocated to Western North Carolina in February of that year. We had hoped to move closer to my husband's family, and had really wanted to live further east...closer to Whiteville where cousins from his mother's side of the family lived. But during the ten year period of waiting for a transfer from the VA Medical Center in Leeds, Massachusetts, his cousin Renee died of complications of Type I Diabetes and kidney disease on August 7, 2004. And seven months later, her husband John, forty-years-old, followed her in death on March 17, 2005...just twelve days before Cousin Hattie had written to us about the George Family Reunion. While he had been struggling with some medical issues of his own, we have always believed that when his wife died, he lost the will to live.

My first time meeting Renee was when my mother-in-law died. I had never been further south than New Jersey...and north Jersey at that...but I fell in love with North Carolina upon my first visit, back in August of 1997.

It is said that funerals are always better attended than family reunions...and I consider this a sad truth as well. I had met my husband's aunts when they had come to visit their sister in Erie, Pennsylvania years before; but, the time surrounding the funeral of their baby sister proved to be the time for true acquaintances.

Then, in July 2004, the Livingston Grand Reunion of the descendants of Frank Livingston of Little River, South Carolina, was held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We stayed with Renee and John and spent time with them and my mother-in-law's family members; and, during that time Renee told me the story of how she and John met and became engaged, which was in reality an answer to a very special prayer that her grandmother had helped her formulate, and then told her to put it in God's hands. What a blessed time that was, not just for us, but for our children, too.

While planning the move to Asheville, we offered our daughter and son the choice of moving with us or staying in New England. They chose to remain, and so my husband and I "relocated the nest," as he sometimes says.

Five months later we would be attending our first George Family Reunion in Havelock....little did we know that the 2009 Reunion possibly would be the last.

Word Count: 800

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