But if I could, I would still choose these.
This is how we were as we gathered from "the four corners" this past weekend to celebrate the life of Aunt Doris. We are the Butcher Clan. We came, four generations of us, from as far away as New York, Colorado, and several states in between.
We spent a lot of time just being together. Catching up. Sharing dreams. Laughing. And yes, crying.
We were a blend of born-ins and married-ins.
Someone from the hotel told us: "We see a lot of families here for funerals. There is something different about yours - - - you all seem to love each other and no one is angry." What wonderful words to hear - - - and even more so since they were true.
Let me share some of my wonderful family with you:
Cousin Dar and Sister Pam. Dar "lurks" on this blog, leaving a few comments from time to time in my cbox. She is my "twin" cousin having been born on my birthday exactly one year later. Aunt Doris was her momma, so if she has the "cares of the world" on her face, there was good reason. I can't say enough about how much I love her - - - the stories of our exploits together could go on and on - - - -
Kevin, one of only two boys who carry the family name, and Mary Alice. Kevin is one of the younger of the 25 first cousins in my generation, and Mary Al is, well let's just say she is at the other end of the generational spectrum!!!!
Renee, one of the married-ins. She and I grew up together, but she was in high school and cool while I was still a bothersome junior higher. Then she married my cousin John and became family. Somehow I missed getting a picture of John.
Uncle Clinton. One of only two (out of nine) of my mom's living siblings. He now lives entirely in the moment.
Aunt Janet, the other remaining Butcher sibling, and her son, our BABY cousin Brent. They came all the way from Colorado.
Kevin gives Gail a bit of a squeeze. You'll hear more about Gail in just a minute.
Kent, one of our "babies," and Rusty. Sister Pam and I spent a lot of time with Rusty's family while we were growing up. I have a funny story or two about those days - - - maybe the spirit will move me to share some of them one of these times.
Dad, Richard, and Pam.
OK - - - the spirit just moved.
Richard is Rusty's older brother. Richard is four or five years older than me, Pam is a year younger than me, and Rusty is a year younger than Pam.
Once upon a time on a small Wisconsin Dairy farm, we four decided to have a "sword" fight. Our swords consisted of sticks. Richard and I, being the two oldest, took on Pam and Rusty. As if that wasn't already unfair enough - - - the two oldest against the two "babies" - - - Richard was an athlete who once beat ALL THREE OF US single-footedly at kickball, and he was on CRUTCHES at the time.
But I digress - - -
I confess, all I had to do was WATCH and back Richard up - - - he certainly did not NEED my help to harvest a FRESH, green branch about an inch in diameter. He shaved off the smaller branches and leaves, and our "arsenal" was complete.
Pam and Rusty on the other hand, being much younger and less wise, combed the woods for fallen, dead branches. They appeared with an arsenal of quite a pile of brittle sticks.
The fight was on.
Richard made quick work of ALL their "swords" - - - slashing through them and chopping them to bits with his fresh green branch.
Undaunted, they returned to the woods in search of a better weapon. When they emerged, they were dragging an old, dead, tree trunk of about 5 inches in diameter. Between the two of them they could barely hold it up.
Richard took one fell swoop at it with his trusty sword and knocked it right out of their hands. He proclaimed that if they couldn't HOLD their sword, they were disqualified.
END of battle.
BEGINNING of YEARS of laughter over the event - which laughter I hope continues for many more years to come.
Cousin Kim and his lovely wife Gail. They too came all the way from Colorado.
Back in the day - - - the High School day - - -Kim taught me to play Euchre. Let's just say I HAD to learn FAST!!!
Oh, these are fun memories. Thanks for letting me share them with you.