It is remarkable for the stories in this picture. You don't know them unless you are in the middle of the picture, so let me try to recount, as an outsider, some of these stories. Over on the right, you see that dapper white hat? And underneath that, there's quite a bit of mustache, and underneath that, there's Uncle Chuck. Like the rest of the matriarchs and patriarchs here, Uncle Chuck and his wife, Aunt Ruby, are in the 80-90 year range. He'd been pretty sick awhile back. People were afraid we'd lose him. But we did not. He was pretty spry at the party. I commented to him how good it was to see him so perky. He matter-of-factly told me that he's more worried about Aunt Ruby's wellbeing. And his mustache trembled just a little when he told me how sometimes she makes a little gasp in her sleep, and that he lays there in the dark, afraid, everytime it happens. Uncle Chuck loves Aunt Ruby.
The guy in the middle, hands up, blabbing away? That's Mike. He's married to Joyce who is the daughter of Herman and Anna. Mike and Joyce are part of the crew that live nearby that make sure that Uncle Herman and Aunt Anna lack for nothing. There is a team of willing bodies ready to drop everything if something needs done for those two. And when Mike was in a bad wreck, all that love and concern was reciprocated in a very big way. Everybody loves Mike.
See the older couple standing off to the side, the woman with the baby on her lap? This is Joe and his wife, Caroline. He's a preacher. They live in Chicago. They've taken in hundreds of foster children. I really don't know if people would recognize them without a child in their arms. I love to watch them at family 'doings'. They're chatting animatedly with people that they haven't seen since the last family 'doings' and they've almost always got a small child on their lap, or on their shoulder. And these troubled little people cling for all that they are worth. Joe and Caroline talk on and on, but their bodies never stop rocking these children, their arms never stop patting these children, and their gentle voices, going on and on, never stop soothing these children. I'm sure that these fine people are aware that they are helping children, but they haven't a clue of the magnitude of their gift. But the children know. You can see it in their eyes. By the end of the reunion, they were running around with the other kidlets, just as secure in their parents' love as any of the rest of them. Joe and Caroline loves anybody that God sets in their path.
I've got more pictures of more people with more stories.
Really, this is a family that kind of overflows with joy and love. There are the exceptions to the rule, I'm sure, but it doesn't matter. For this one day, even if you don't belong, you get scooped up in a bear hug and dragged on in anyway. Once I wrote a column this event for our newspaper, focusing on Rita's birthday (see tomorrow's post) which is celebrated at the reunion. What a response! For some time people would greet me with "I wanna go to Rita's birthday!" Everyone, it seemed, wanted to have a family like this one. And you know, in a perfect world, they would.
Talking about gifts, the Lord said, "The greatest of these is love." Jesus knew what He was talking about. And I'm thinking that He would be pleased to sit down and flip through the pictures from Tim's family reunion.