What is your ideal summer day? Where would you go, what would you do or eat, and who would you be with?
I’ve taken a few days off from these questions and for good reason. The day I was supposed to answer the above question, I was, in fact, enjoying an ideal summer day. The annual Miller family reunion was this past weekend and I so enjoyed it. I had skipped a couple of years so it was really good to be back and connect with the people with whom I share a mysterious bond. Because it is mysterious to me…why should a few shared genes or blood cells or something, (I’m unqualified to discuss our biological similarities) knit our souls together? I know that those biological similarities don’t always knit souls together. At least not in love. And so I am most grateful for the love, imperfect as it is, that has knit my mom’s family together.
In the kitchen (for family who cares, in the back its Emmanuel, Roy, Barbara, and Robert;
front is Ivan and Mom)
My mom’s brother’s stories are my favorite part of the reunions. There is an inner “uh-huh”, a kind of confirmation, a recognition of myself and my siblings, that I experience when their tales are being told. When they told the story of Grandpa scaring his sons by pretending to be a mountain lion, I laughed. When Robert simultaneously laughed and cried while talking about Roy’s recent stroke, I wiped away tears. And then laughed because Roy said he’s no longer sleeping on his belly because he’s afraid of heights.
Love this picture (Eddie, Mom, Ivan)
I caught up with dear cousins, laughed at their kids jokes, squeezed my nieces and nephews, and ended each day with my siblings. The food on these ideal days? Oh goodness. Table after table, a buffet of so much deliciousness.
One story that struck me in particular, was about my uncle Andy, pictured above. I think Eddie told it, and as I remember it, the boys were in the barn doing their chores when Andy suddenly went running past Eddie, through the barn door, and outside. A few minutes later he came back in and said, “Ih hop un gaeluh airplane tsenah! Swa gael!” (forgive me, that may not be very sound PA dutch) Translation: “I saw a yellow airplane! It was yellow!” Reportedly, Andy, as a young boy was fixated on airplanes and aviation. I think they teased him about it plenty, at least they do now, but he would not be swayed.
In the afternoon of our second day together, people were suddenly moving out from under the pavilion and looking expectantly at the sky. “What’s going on?” I wondered. Someone said, “Andy’s doing a flyover!”
And suddenly I was transported. Blown away. A young Amish boy who dared to dream, and whose dreams were not squashed. He loved airplanes and there he was flying over our heads, dipping his wings to say hello. Uncle Andy is my hero for more than one reason, but on July 15 2012, he became an inspiration. To me. The humming sound of the airplane overhead, and the warmth of love and hope inside- it was the perfect summer day.