I made another trip to Iuka last week and spent time with family - two nights at cousin Edwina's and two at Bren's. Along the way I visited Mama Nick, Aunt Ginny, Aunt Reba, David and Sandra, Mike, Marsha and Morgan, and got to see Harold Boothe (Edwina's son-in-law), and David Thorne, an old classmate. (Don't know that Thorne connection yet.) I have more relatives than I ever dreamed!
These visits have "gathered me in," while at the same time, made me feel much expanded. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." (Isaiah 54:2)
I know that God "defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10:18) Being in the midst of old home places I never knew about, seeing the first house my mother and father lived in after they married, learning names of great aunts and uncles in the Thorne/Daniel families - is bittersweet. I missed a lot; but Edwina has given me a lot. Salinda has given me a lot. Brenda W has a wealth of knowledge about family ties. I had kinfolks that probably would have given me a lot more of themselves had we lived there all our lives, but we didn't. All the times we visited there during the years of working and raising families - I regretfully did not take the initiative to see them more often. There is only so much time in a visit and we were always the ones going here and there... It is difficult to fill in the gaps at a later time and I have the sense of urgency that I won't know all I want to. But everything happens in God's timing and for some reason He has opened the doors of this house of relatives; and opened my heart to receive more of them with a better sense of who I am in the midst of all of it!
It isn't all serious! Edwina goes to her mother's - my Aunt Reba's - every day. Reba is 95, soon to be 96 years old and still lives alone. I love her mannerisms and how she says things, such as, "I can't figure it." She will nod her head emphatically, a short little bob, as if to say, "So there," or "That's just the way it is." Or shrug her little bird-wing thin shoulder and turn the corner of her mouth up... She can't hear or see very well and E has to yell to make her hear. You would think they're in the midst of an argument if you just walked in on them. Edwina is devoted to her - every day she takes her a plate lunch from a local restaurant and calls her at least twice a day. Someone is with her at least two days a week, and Edwina in and out the other three.
Then there's Olen, Edwina's husband. He's nearly 76 also and still works in his shop as a deisel mechanic. He got a cell phone recently and just purchased minutes for it - maybe ten minutes. He just wanted his own cell phone! But the minutes ran out soon and he kept hitting the side buttons accidentally which caused him anguish. Edwina and I took it back to the store Saturday - it was within the 30-day purchase return time.
The last night (Saturday) I spent at Bren's and her s-i-l Mitzi was there. She drives from Jackson, MS, often to see about her mother who is in the same independent living center that Bren's dad and stepmom are. She's also my second cousin, which I recently learned, and we had a good time visiting. I remember in school she had long dark hair - beautiful - I thought one of the cutest girls in school. Still a beautiful woman, hair still dark, but not as long. She just learned that she and John will be grandparents in March!
I spent a lot of Saturday at Mike and Marsha's and Morgan came from Selmer (TN); her Steven had to work. Mike is working on a huge garage beside their house. I held up a sheet of metal siding while he secured it with a screw. I told him now I could say I helped him build it! I didn't see "my" Steve - brother Steve. I think he had to work.
David and Sandra's on Sunday morning for cinnamon rolls and fruit. Sandra had redecorated Jessica's bedroom and it's beautiful. Jessi had taken a picture of an old rusted ship in the Bimini Islands (or maybe Bimini is one island) with her cell phone, sent it to Sandra and she in turn had it enlarged to about 18X24 and framed. The clarity was not lost at all and it's a beautiful picture, giving the room a nautical theme.
I will be going back, but it has to be cooler this time. The heat is dreadfully too much, even just getting in and out of vehicles and b/f into houses. I think my next big trip - Big Trip - will be to Sher's in October...