What would you call a meeting of relatives who have never met each other? It wouldn’t be a reunion. I guess I would just label it “tremendous fun”. As John’s first cousin Peter put it, “These people were just names to me. My mother kept me abreast of family news, but I hadn’t ever met them.”
Peter had come from Illinois to North Carolina for a meeting of dulcimer enthusiasts. He has written fairly extensively about the instrument and Swedish hymnody. You can read one blog post here. After the event, he came to spend one night with us, seeing our home here for the first time. That one night turned into two, much to the delight of us and the younger set.
Our niece and nephew from upstate New York swung down this way on their vacation. Our son $ wanted to reconnect with Chrissie and Christopher, Chrissie being his first cousin who grew up next door. Those three always enjoyed each other. So there we had three from the older set and three from the next generation. None of the young’uns had ever met Peter. I figured out the one person they all had in common was John’s mother. Mom was Peter’s aunt, and grandmother to Chrissie and $.
What fun it was to see the connections begin to form! Peter and the (almost middle aged) youngsters had an instant bond with music. They were speaking a common language when they talked of singers and groups. The young set went for a hike as Peter packed to leave. He said he hadn’t known what to expect from these unknown relatives, but he found himself relaxing and enjoying them tremendously.
I wish I could remember all the things we shared and the laughter that rang out from our screened porch. It’s certain the neighbors were aware that we were having a marvelous time together. Dennis, across the street, brought us cake he had made himself and had a chance to meet our fun relatives.
I do remember the last story Peter told. His mother’s sisters (I think I have the right group) were visiting a church where the song was “Bringing in the Sheaves.” They sang with gusto, and an older man near them asked “What words are they singing?”
The song says, “Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”
What did those girls sing? “Swinging in the trees, swinging in the trees, we shall come rejoicing swinging in the trees.”
I shared with him the words my dad sang for “Brighten the corner where you are.” As a boy, his version of the gospel song was, “Fight in the corner where you are.”
All too soon Peter was on his way, taking one of the extra barbecue sandwiches from our meal on Sunday. Pulled pork is one of the things both he and I missed from our childhoods in Tennessee. He came from one end of the state, and I came from the other. You’d never know we shared an upbringing in the same state. He sounds mid-Western, and I have a modified mid-South accent.