The weekend before last, I helped host a family reunion for my dad’s side of the family – his brothers and sister, a couple of my cousins, lots of my nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters. For three days we talked and ate, and played.
I enjoy having a house large enough to fit a lot of people, and we put that ability to the test. Everyone squeezed into my house on Friday night, sitting on chairs, the floor, barstools, every available seat taken to eat dinner and watch family movies. Then five adults and fifteen kids slept under its roof, surprisingly well (after the five adults finally made themselves shut up and go to bed.)
Saturday was spent at Copperhead Island – kayaking, playing volleyball, eating, walking around and enjoying the scenery. Now that the meal I was in charge of was over, I had a goal to spend some quality time with those who had traveled across the country. My over-tired children keep my fully engaged with them instead. One fell apart over a soggy bun and had to be carried down a trail to calm down. One wanted to either be in my arms or getting into something. Between the typical mom duties of keeping-safe and keeping-fed, I would try to converse, only to excuse myself when Carina let out one of her eardrum-piercing shrieks. Instead reconnecting with far-flung family, my exhaustion with those I know and love best was seeping out, clouding the atmosphere until I could feel it in the crease between my brows.
After another night of not enough sleep, and then a few hours of chasing my baby toddler at church, I felt like the family reunion was a wash. My kids had had a great time, I had done my duties, I hoped that my aunts and uncles got to talk with each other, but me? Every time I tried to will myself to focus on the people around me, my mind went a little numb and my attempts didn’t go very far. When we sat down for a fireside after dinner, I knew that Carina would require me to be in and out of the room continuously because of her inability to sit still and her wild shrieks.
Out in the hall with Carina, I heard the children gathering to sing and I came back in time to see their smiling faces. They sang,
I came to earth with power to choose,
Good choices bless me and my family too
Loudly and clearly, with sweet faces, invigorated by Aunt Audra’s ukulele accompaniment. Then my Uncle David announced that my Nana, the matriarch of the group, was going to say a few words. My Nana is quiet – she doesn’t often speak out. I was immediately filled with a prompting that her words should be recorded. I flipped my camera to video, and asked Audra, who was sitting in the front row, to do it for me.
My Nana spoke softly to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with a cracking voice and teary eyes, of her love for the gospel. She spoke about each generation in our family trying to to live the gospel a little better more than the previous, and how proud she was of us. The room was full of love – love for the family and our Heavenly Father. When she finished, most of us were wiping our eyes.
The crease in my brow was gone. My patience returned. This is what it was all about.