On the topic of family….a Re-visit

This one goes way back to September of 2014, but Monday’s post about my mom got me thinking about my grandparents, so please indulge me as I reminisce.

I must mention my grandparents. I was blessed to know my great-grandmother, Elsa Laetz, until she died when I was twenty-four.  I knew my grandparents, the Meyers, until they went to join her when I was forty-one.  I could write for days about the lessons I learned from these three, but I think I’ll focus today on the importance of family.

I remember climbing into the car with my parents and siblings and driving literally through the woods and over the river to see my grandparents. As we we exited the highway, passed mansions in the historic district and then the Kroger and the Big Boy, my excitement would build. As soon as my dad slid the car into P for park, I would leap out and run to the front door to ring the bell.

I can still see my petite “Little Grandma,” as we called her, open the door and smile out at me. “Gramps” would be right behind her peeking over her shoulder. They would hug me, gush about how I’d grown, and welcome me in…

…right in to grandma’s kitchen. She could cook, and she always did — Cornish hens, leg of lam, ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, stuffing, salads, fruit, you name it. She made it seem effortless to put a feast on the table for eight, or eighteen, or twenty-eight. Everyone would fit around tables in the kitchen, the dining room, and sometimes even the living room, filling and re-filling their plates until they couldn’t possibly eat one more bite.

Several times a year, my grandparents opened their home and had all of us over. What a crowd — my grandparents, my great grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins. In the winter we were up and down the stairs, playing, laughing, and I’m sure yelling. In the summer we were in and out of doors doing the same. Invariably, an argument or fight would break out among the children, and I usually ended up in tears, but there was always an extra-squishy hug and grandpa’s signature multi-move handshake before we climbed back into the car, after dark, to head home.

Now, I know that I view history with rose-colored glasses. I realize that it wasn’t as perfect as I remember, but even when I acknowledge that there were tense moments, misunderstandings, and insecurities, I can still say that everyone in the family was always welcome at the Meyers.

And you didn’t even have to be family. My grandpa was known for bringing home what I call ‘strays’ — the single guy who is new to town, the church workers who are far from home, the man whose wife passed away last year. And, if you came once, you were family from that moment on.

My definition of family stems back to the example of Grandpa and Grandma Meyer, their open door policy, their generous hospitality, and their willingness to welcome strangers into the fold.

Why? Because there is nothing at all like the feeling that someone has been peering out the window, waiting for you to arrive, preparing the best foods, and arranging the house in anticipation of your arrival. Nothing makes you feel more loved and more treasured than being embraced by someone who has been looking forward to being reunited with you.

And these gatherings I remember from my childhood — amazing as they were — are just an appetizer for what’s to come.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:2-3.

Now that’s what I call a family reunion.

I imagine Grandma and Grandpa greeting me at the door with smiles and hugs.

I can’t wait to see them!

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