Friday, June 27, 2014

Family Reunion/Saying Farewll

Last week I took a trip up to Illinois and Missouri with my Mom and Marti, my sister to see family that we haven't seen in a very long time (in my case it has probably been a decade). We first went to my Mom's childhood home town and met up with my Uncle Jack, his wife Sandi, and their cousin Francis Ann.

Sandi, Marti, and Mom at the restaurant 
The six of us went to a wonderful restaurant on the Illinois river for dinner and then drove around in the country in the rain trying to find our way back home.

The next morning Mom, Marti, and I got up and wandered around the town while Mom pointed out all of the places where she had fond (and not so fond) memories from childhood and her high school years. Marti and I reminisced about our visits to Grandma and Grandpa when we were younger. It is funny seeing all of these places for the first time in over a decade and I am amazed at how much smaller they all are now....of course everything is bigger through the eyes of a child.

Pike County Courthouse

Water Tower

Mill in Town 
Later than afternoon, the three of us drove up to my cousin, Debbie's house and we got to see and visit with all of our cousins on my Mom's side of the family for the first time in many, many moons. Again, all these little kids have grown up into adults with kids of their own and it is amazing to watch the progress of the generations. Debbie lives on 8 acres out in the country and they have beaten back nature to create a beautiful home with a park like setting.
Pagoda and pond at Debbie's
Most of my cousins and their kids and grandkids
 After visiting with all the family for the evening and again the next morning, the three of us loaded the car back up and drove over to my Grandma's (my Dad's home town) where we met up with my brother-in-law and niece and nephew....along with all of my Dad's kin. We first all went out to dinner at a local restaurant and sat around and visited. Then, the majority of us drove out to my grandparents' farm where my Dad was born (yes, he was born at home) and where he grew up. My Grandma really wanted to come with us, but she is 94 and has lost the majority of her sight and we were able to convince her (or rather my Mom and Aunt) to go on back to her place and rest as there was a lot happening the following day. While out at the farm, we all loaded up into the trucks and drove then walked to the top of what is referred to as Walnut Hill as it is covered in Walnut trees.

Sunset over the Farm

Most of the younger generation rode in the backend

Enjoying nature

Aren't these a bunch of great looking kids?!?
Sun setting through the walnut grove
It was one of my Dad's favorite spots on the farm and has an amazing view out across the countryside. There, my Mom said a few words and then scattered some of Dad's ashes:

Mom spreading the ashes
This was the first stop on the Dick D. Farewell Tour and we have many more places to spread Dad around.

I recently was reminded of the following poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

I think this poem is very fitting as we spread Dad around and 'throw' him to the winds.

The following day we had a large family lunch with some of my Dad's cousins and then headed to a small country church where we had a Memorial Service for Dad so that my Grandma and cousins who couldn't make it to Texas for Dad's internment would have a chance to say goodbye. Again, it is so amazing to see all the kids growing up and I know it was a joy to Grandma to be able to have all of us together again (yes, I was reprimanded for staying away so long).

Podium at the Memorial
Grandma with all her grandkids and all but one great grandkid
Afterwards, there were snacks and lots of visiting with Dad's old high school friends (he had a graduating class of something like 6 people). The day was topped off with heading to the Burger Bar, which is a mainstay burger joint in this very small Missouri town and got burgers and shakes or soft server ice cream and just remembered better times.