The freeways in Minnesota are open, but the rest areas are still closed. This is day 9 of our historic statewide shut down of government. Unky Herb and I were on the road to a family reunion in Waseca, the town where my grandmother once lived. We were able to get there without the use of the rest areas, but I guess the closings are causing some hardship to truckers who often spend overnights sleeping in these sanctuaries, and now must find somewhere else to park.
The reunion was the first in many years for the cousins on my dad's side of the family. There were nine first cousins in attendance and a total of 60 family members including second cousins, spouses and children. For the first time my generation was the oldest of those in attendance. My dad's generation has passed to history. And, as is often more common, and slightly uncomfortably so, I was the second eldest of the cousins in attendance, eclipsed only by my cousin, Hugh. My brother, Tom, would have been second, except that he was home in Florida on this occasion.
I was welcomed warmly and I was happy to see these familiar unfamiliar faces, the features were family features, and many had aged to look more like their parents. I think I probably did, too. I brought some old pictures from my cache of family photos and some copies of information that I picked up over ten years ago when I was doing my most thorough genealogy research. I brought, for instance, the list of passengers on the good ship Parachute that brought my great- great grandfather George Miller (later known as Grossfather) to New York from Havre, France in 1828. He came with a family group that included a man, Jean Miller, who I presume was his dad. George was the first of a long string of George's that lasts down to the present day. Everyone named their eldest son George. The first George, Grossfather, ended up in the Spooner, Wisconsin, cemetery in an unmarked grave after his death in 1911 at the age of 88. The reason for the lack of a remembrance of his life is a long story and seemingly justified.
Unky Herb was the photographer for the day. He lined up his camera on a step ladder, set the timer and jumped into the photo. Someone suggested that everyone have a name tag so that we could be identified into the future. So we all have our first names on a large white piece of paper. Unky Herb and I are both in the mass of humanity somewhere.
I've been reading Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" in advance of a trip to the City of Lights. There are insights and subtle humor in the words and I appreciate the man now more than before I read his words. These words struck me as apt and quite possibly true, "They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seems to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure."
Go forth and make jokes.