Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home for a while - looking back - looking forward

How it all began . . . Grandma and Grandpa Bingaman with their eldest: Aunt Gladys.

I returned home from my Winter Adventure one month ago today. It's good to be home - especially for Holy Week and the Easter season. But I am missing my sister-friends in Minneapolis and in Monroe, Michigan.

I needed this time, though, for reflection and for thinking ahead as to what is next.

I'm going next month for a few days to California for the 74th Annual Mothers Day Picnic for my extended family. The extended family descended from Gurney and Mabel Bingaman has met every year at William Land Park in Sacramento for our Mothers' Day Picnic. In the old days it was Grandma and Grandpa, the "Sibs" - their four children and their spouses - and we grandchildren, all 14 of us.

What times we had: the great picnic dinner! Everyone brought fried chicken, potato salad, and all the fixin's. One year Grandma left her famous Sunshine Salad (grated carrots, pineapple, and who knows what else, in orange jello) on the kitchen counter in Citrus Heights. Someone made a trip all the way back to get it - because it was an essential ingredient of the Mothers Day Picnic feast. Deviled eggs - and snickerdoodles are other holy foods sacred to the feast.

Then we played baseball. Croquet. One year we crashed a Sunday School picnic next door and participated in their activities, winning the three-legged race and one in which we used small wheelbarrows! The days were much longer then. There was time to go to the Zoo, the Duck Pond, FairyTale Town, the pony rides, the Rose Gardens -- we did it all! One year we saw an American Bison being born at the zoo. That made for some interesting story-telling back with our parents. Another time, we watched a naked man across the street run out and pick up his paper and run back into the house with it.

And my cousins. My amazing cousins. Because we've always stayed close through the years - - especially those closest to us in age. My group were the oldest: Dorita, myself, and Jeri were the leaders of the tribe. Anita, Linda, Joanne, and my sister Pat were our lieutenants. I don't know all their children and grandchildren as well as I'd like to, but I love that we still gather. I love that we want to be together at that time.

Not all of us - but most of us - in 2004.

The family grew. Boyfriends and girlfriends were brought to meet the family. People got married. And divorced. And remarried. Children were born. And grandchildren. The days got shorter. Now it seems that there is barely time to get to the park (we always use the same space and reserve it months ahead), unpack the food, eat it, and sit in little clusters together to visit - and  then it's time to leave already. But it still goes on.

The "Sibs" when they were all still with us.
Aunt Louise is still here - and looking great!

2009 - Me with great-granddaughter Jazzy on the left
and granddaughter CeiliJeanne on the right.
This year I'm looking forward to a visit with my grandson David Jeremy and his two children, and several of my other grandchildren - including Katherine and my great-granddaughter Jasmine. 
And then when that is over, I'll return to Forks, and await the arrival of some of my children and grandchildren for a visit in June.

And then I'm off to Minneapolis for my "Monastic Immersion Experience." I never knew I was going to have such a great time when I got old.
If I had known, I'd have tried to get here sooner!