We received a card from one of Hub's cousins yesterday. Her Mom was his Aunt. One of 12 kids. Hub's Mom was the second youngest. With the card was the annual newsletter. I'm not big on newsletters; I've never, ever written one nor expect I ever will. But when received I do read them.
This particular one struck me as particularly poignant. How many of us hail from families consisting of 12 kids ~ unless competing for a reality show! There are so many relatives I've never been able to keep track. We often test ourselves just trying to remember the original twelve!
This cousin and her husband have just left the ranch where they lived for 50 years. To move into town. Into the house that had been her grandmother's and her parent's among others. Wow. The house itself must be a treasure trove of history.
I've been reflecting on all the stories I've heard over the years about the ranch in Ekalaka. I've never been there but have been promised the trip. An outpost in south eastern Montana where paved roads are rare.
I've heard the stories about the family from Ottumwa, Iowa making the trek west. Growing up in the sod hut on the prairie. The stuff of western legend. Lonesome Dove country. In truth. The nearest town of any size being Miles City where in the movie Gus died.
The letter told news of family I didn't even know existed. It told of the reunion held this past summer and gave dates for the 2011 event. It told of those who have left us. Ah, yes, those who have left us. Hub is one of the three youngest children of those original dozen and just left his 60s behind.
As I read about more and more people foregoing marriage, the number of children born out of wedlock and the distances now common among family members, I wonder what will become of family as a unit. As a support mechanism. It doesn't bode well for the future.
One day someone will find a letter such as the one I now have and wonder what it must have been like. Having all those people about, helping one another with chores, the tough times, the sorrow, the triumphs, the good cheer - especially around the holidays when families used to gather.
What will be the reality of their times? It might be like my own reality when I set a Christmas table glistening with antique cut glass and sterling silver and wondering what it was like when such was used for more occasions than merely Christmas! What must it have been like in the days of sleigh rides and snow men. Harder to be sure but maybe, in it's way, far more rewarding. It was the era of families.