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August 31, 2013

RONN MOTT: Family gatherings

TERRE HAUTE — When you get back to work after being gone for a few days, you may have missed one or two meetings and you feel a little awkward. What did I miss? What was said? What could I have said? No matter how important you are to a situation, you really do feel a little awkward.

A family gathering is great because no matter how much time has passed between the last meeting and this one, it picks right up. You feel comfortable with everybody and everything, even with family you do not especially like, if there is a case like that. Everything falls into place and you feel right at home.  

It happened to me over the past weekend … a family gathering honoring a lady’s 91st birthday. Ninety-one is a special occasion by itself, but this was a more important event. My grandparents had 10 children. That in itself would be pretty important, but in reality they had two families. In the first 12 years of their marriage, my grandparents had six children … one every other year.  

Then, for reasons unknown or ever questioned or explained, they had no more children. To confuse the future family historians in the next eight years after the 10-year drought, they would have four more children. The last of those four was my mother.

As I was growing up, family gatherings were an exciting place to be. There were tons of food and, for a little kid, especially delicious desserts. There was music, singers and musicians, and there were games. The two principal games were euchre and poker. The cards would rattle, be dealt and fly through the air. Poker was penny-ante so the pots were never huge but were fought for as if they were. I got into my first Poker game at the age of 10 and bluffed my Uncle Ray out of the pot when he had Kings and I had Jacks. (After that bluff I was never treated like a child again and often lost my piggy bank money to prove the situation.)

The lady whose birthday we were celebrating is one of two children left from the original 10 siblings from my grandparents’ family. Altogether, there are but five remaining cousins, including my brother and me.

The birthday lady’s two daughters and son were in attendance as well as a granddaughter and her husband, and two of her cousins. Everybody lives miles apart and getting together has not been an easy thing, but it was a delicious lunch with much conversation and good humor. My thoughts run to expanding this while we can and while there are some of us left to enjoy these reunions.

The original family always got together at Thanksgiving for dinner and then a Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve at someone’s house. Like any small child, I thought about Christmas presents, but I really thought about being with aunts, uncles, and cousins again and the good times we had when all of us were together.

As a person who is advancing in his years, those remembrances of family gatherings and the richness it added to my life was warmly brought back to me this past weekend.  

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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