Many families have one or more horror stories to tell about attending a family reunion. Sometimes one of the crazy relatives acts even crazier than usual and that provides conversation for the next twelve months until it is time for the current family reunion.
I’m guessing that your awful family reunion story cannot hold a candle to my mother’s last reunion. Let me begin at the beginning and say that my mother had always been fascinated by family reunions. She would sometimes organize her family vacations around them.
Looking back, it seems likely that Mother’s fascination with family reunions was driven by the missing pieces of the puzzle that was her life. She was, I think, attempting to find a way to make it all fit together.
One year, when my sister Lindy and I were still in grade school and Lindy had her hair in a pony tail, we attended one of the family reunions with our mother. At the reunion, there were some relatives we knew and an even larger group we didn’t know. My mother insisted on introducing us to Aunt Rutheeny (if you’re wondering how that name is pronounced, it is Ruth-Theen-EEE). Aunt Rutheeny was about a million years old and her eyesight was none too good.
Mother asked us to crouch down in front of her wheelchair which we did. Aunt Rutheeny observed us for several minutes while I fought off getting a cramp in my leg . She then pronounced:
How nice! You have a girl and a boy.
No one bothered to correct her. After all she was about a million years old. But my sister and I were both troubled by her mistaking one of us for a boy. We finally decided that she had not seen Lindy’s ponytail and that she believed she was the boy.
You can now imagine how assiduously we avoided family reunions. If my mother mentioned that one was being held, we created all sorts of excuses not to go.
Every year, my mother forced her third husband Tom to take her to the family reunion held in July. Mercifully for him, he died prior to the year of this last family reunion and so he was not forced to follow my mother around being introduced to third cousins twice removed. He also was not forced to choke down the deviled eggs my mother insisted on taking every year to the reunion despite the fact that most people didn’t want to get sick from eating the over-warm creations.
So, the year Tom died, my mother set off for the family reunion with her plate of…you guessed it, deviled eggs. She had barely found a seat when one of the relatives challenged her. He said:
You don’t belong here. You’re not a Poe.
Warming up for the fight, Mother retorted:
Oh yes, I am.
The man insisted:
No, you’re not related to us.
the man insisted. Mother continued:
I most certainly am.
and she began to go through her lineage.
I am sure the man was just hoping to get her to leave the family reunion so that for one year they could have a peaceful, fun time. But he was out of luck. Mother kept him cornered while she recited the genealogy of everyone back to the Civil War. At the end, he gave up and allowed her to stay and (most importantly) admitted that she was part of the family.
Mother was so proud of her actions that day that she told the story far and wide. She loved winning an argument more than she loved saving face.