A little music, a big memory and a whole lot of Mama…
This past weekend a bunch of my kinfolks got together for a reunion in Gatlinburg, TN, an event I had looked forward to for quite a while. It was a branch of the family tree on Mama’s side, the Williamses, namely Mama’s big brother, my Uncle Otto and his wife, my Aunt Katherine’s, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. These are some of my favorite people on the planet, folks I don’t see nearly often enough. I also saw some younger cousins, all grown up now, whom I had not seen since they were little, and some I’d never met yet.
Before I had even made it into the pavilion I found myself wrapped in a warm, loving hug from my cousin Stacy.
She and I have been in touch on social media (one of the blessings of technology!) but have not seen each other face-to-face since the late 1980’s. What a joy to see that sweet face again and enjoy a brief moment to catch up a little. Second hug of the day was from her daughter, my cousin Danielle. I’ve also been in touch with her online, but we had never actually met until that moment. The musical genes in the Williams side of the family have passed on to Dani in a big way, and I was able to share a little bit of family musical history and heritage with her as we talked.
Soft breezes blew through the shaded pavilion as my cousin Hazen asked the blessing over our meal and time together, adding special prayers for Aunt Helen as she deals with ongoing health issues. I breathed a prayer as well for Dean, her husband, that he will remember to take care of himself as he tries to take care of her. Seeing and hugging her was a special joy, as it always is. She and Mama were so close, and when I hug her, I can almost feel Mama hugging me back as Aunt Helen does.
I felt Mama with us all through the day, as we shared food and pictures and stories. Aunt Helen’s kids, Lisa and Mike, were the kids out of the bunch I spent the most time with growing up. And they were there, with Lisa’s husband Tim, who is a recent addition to the family and fits right in. Mike’s wife Jane never changes, still glowing wth a headful of red hair and a huge smile. All Mike and Jane’s kids were there, Aunt Helen’s grandchildren, and a huge light in her life.
As we shared food and stories and pictures, I felt Mama all around me, and I saw glimpses of her…in my cousin Robin “volunteering” to get up and sing, something Mama used to do…in the adult recreations of childhood photographs and the howls of laughter that resulted…
…in talking with Hazen about how active “my dead people” are in my dreams…
…in the photo of me and my closest-in-age cousins performing a “family breast exam” (Mama and Uncle Otto are in Heaven laughing their heads off at that, while Aunt Katherine is telling us to “Be refined!”)…
Family is not always dignified. But that’s usually when it’s the most fun.
Unbeknownst to most of the family, Dani and I had cooked up a surprise to share, and after the meal was done, we offered them a little song, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”. Making music with a cousin I’d just met for the first time was both a joy and an honor, and I hope it’s only the first of many more times we can do it. My beloved Sweet Pea captured the moment with his phone, and I am so grateful that he did!
All through the day I felt Mama there with us, along with all the others on the Williams side who have gone to Heaven and wait for us there. The last verse of the song we shared says:
“Sweet dream till sunbeams find you,
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you,
But in your dreams whatever they be,
Dream a little dream of me.”
I dream little dreams of them all the time, waiting for the day we are all together once more, with God and one another, all the generations of our family making music together. All worries behind us. What wonderful dreams!