My Father and His Two Sisters, Laughing

From left to right: Ella Mae, Lee, Dorothy.

This was the day of our family reunion, which is held each July at the hunting camp on Shade Mountain where my father and brother are members. The camp is along Lost Creek, and the deep woods and moss-lined stream behind the cabin are cooler than the surrounding area, even on the hottest of summer days.

The event started years ago as a birthday party for my father's mother, Grandma, who is no longer with us. Nowadays it is a reunion of Grandma's children, and their children and grandchildren and great-grands and great-great-grands, and all of their assorted families. Of the original five siblings - Jim, Ella Mae, Lewis, Lee, and Dorothy - the three in this photo remain.

Ella Mae, age 90, is my dad's big sister, and from the day he was born, she has always thought my dad is just about the best thing invented since sliced bread. That's my dad, age 83, in the middle. My Aunt Dorothy, age 80 (and the maker of the best broccoli-cauliflower salad I know of!), is the baby of the family.

The get-together is an excuse for families who haven't seen each other in a while to get together and enjoy a good meal and some time together, and maybe even (weather permitting) a stroll up the mountain to a waterfall that is a well-known local attraction.

My own contribution to the feast on this day was baked beans in a crockpot. And the weather - though hot and sticky - did permit a quick hike up to the waterfall for the dozen or so souls intrepid enough to brave the heat to get there. (Yes, the group included myself and my cousin and our cameras at the forefront - she uses a slightly older model of the same camera I carry, so we had much to discuss and compare.)

It's been a challenging year for some members of the family. My father had open-heart surgery last year, and it seemed like it was touch and go for a while there (read about that here). But our hopes and prayers were answered, and he has enjoyed what seems to be a complete recovery. And my Aunt Ella Mae lost her husband in October (read about that here).

So we have had some challenges and some losses in the past year. Maybe, in some ways, that makes the reunion - and the family time together - all the more precious. And for those we love who are no longer with us: we remember you with love, we carry you with us in our hearts, and we hope to be reunited someday.

But for now, on this day, let there be life. And love. And family. And good food. And fellowship. And laughter! For we are together, we are family, and THESE are the good times!

A song to go with this photo . . . You know, I love the people in this picture so much that it was hard to select a song to go with this. I looked for songs about family. Songs about love. Songs about brothers and sisters. Songs about good times. Many of the songs I thought of are ones that I might like, but that my dad might not, and I wanted to pick a song for this photo that I know he will enjoy listening to, when I send him and my mom an e-mail with a link to this posting.

I happen to be a big Johnny Cash fan, and so is my dad. And I happen to believe there is a Johnny Cash song to provide an appropriate soundtrack for almost any situation in life. So here we go. Today's song is a classic little tune about family from the Man in Black. Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and the Statler Brothers, Daddy Sang Bass.

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