Thursday, October 8, 2015

Seven Septembers -Our Cousin Reunion Finally!


It had been seven Septembers since I had seen my five cousins at their Mother's and my Aunt Grace's Memorial Service.  Jim was working but I was able to go up with my brother, Steve.  It was a rare opportunity to have extended quality time with my brother.  Jim hadn't been back to Washington since June of 1969 when we attended my Grandmother's funeral just a year after we were married almost to the day.

We were invited to go up for a family reunion on the 24th of September this year.  We were so happy to be included in this gathering.  I was so afraid something would happen like last year, that would prevent our going, so we were so thrilled to pull out of the driveway before sunrise on the 23rd and head up there to Washington.

We decided to drive up the coast of northern California on Hwy 1 and then cut over to eastern Washington via Grants Pass, Oregon where we spent the night.  What an amazingly wonderful day. September 23 was the first day of Autumn and such a breathtaking journey. Not because of the autumn colors just yet, but because we drove through the Big Redwood Tress, saw the ocean often and passed thorough towns like Mendocino below.  A ten hour journey, off the beaten path through this glorious scenery, can change a person into someone better. We loved every minute of it.  We have come to embrace our road trips.  They create some of the best "alone times" we ever seem to manage to have anymore.

There is something so stunning about 
these trees that make you feel peaceful 
and reverent towards our Creator!

The Pacific Ocean
 Simply Beautiful On a Sunny Day

Google Image

This September was to be a very special one for me and of course for Jim too.   Not only would I be able to see my beloved cousins again but we would be meeting  our "new" cousin, William and his wife Rita, also for the first time.

William was adopted at birth.  Through nothing short of a major miracle, he found his siblings in December of 2013 due to a series of very fortunate events.  Those included his great desire to press on for 35 years to find his birth mother after he learned he was adopted.  His friend, Nancy, who does genealogy took an interest in his story.  She also persuaded him to do DNA testing.  That produced a trail to his father.  I had written a blog piece on my sweet Aunt Grace when she died and posted it on this blog in 2008.  It contained pictures of all the kids and her obituary.  It also contained pictures of her both in her youth and when she was older.

 You can read about it here:

Nancy found the blog post via searching the Internet.  As a result of that Google find and the steps that preceded it, William discovered not only his father but his mother and five full siblings! I'll never forget the joy of that Christmas in 2013. When we all found out we rejoiced.  Every one of my cousins welcomed Bill with open arms and unconditional love from the onset!  What a precious gift!  It was overwhelming and wonderful to all of us.  It was a spiritual time, an emotional time and has been an ongoing celebration.  It is the miracle and story that never grows old.

You can read about it here:

Oregon was so pretty.  The forest is so thick it looks
 like the mountains are carpeted with pine trees.
It reminded us of the Sierras
 near Reno when we were kids!

This is my idea of car camping...
Find a great secluded place...
Grab lunch from your cooler...
Recline your leather seats and take a little nap...
Hit the road again.
That is as rustic as I get. 
Poor Jim!

We arrived in eastern Washington and got settled into our hotel Thursday evening.  We were going to meet the cousins at 1:00 for lunch at Chuck and Jane's house on Friday to kick off the reunion.  I was so excited and nervous!  How weird is that? Not being excited but being nervous!   The minute I saw all of them my fears vanished in a heart beat.  I just wanted everything to be perfect and as it turned out it was.  More than 'over the moon' perfect actually.

Before we went over for lunch, we took a ride to the cemetery to visit the graves of my aunt and uncle and our grandmother. I felt we would probably go as a group but didn't want to miss going if our cousins had other plans. It was exactly as I had remembered it. Green, pristine and very quiet. There was no one there to ask so it took me a little while to remember exactly where the headstones were but we did find them.

Our Grandmother 
Alice Grace Godfrey Colberg Yeasley

Mt. Hope Cemetery
College Place, Washington

We lingered awhile and then...
It was time to go meet the 
cousins for lunch.

Chuck and Jane hosted three of the meals we shared together as a family.  They live in town and have such a pretty home.  They just recently remodeled and got all new furnishings and it is stunning.  In my interior design days I have worked in hundreds of beautiful homes and this one was perfectly done.  It's so pleasing to the eye and so welcoming.  It is elegant and comfortable.  Chuck credited his artistic wife, Jane, with all the talent. 

 Ray and Judy also hosted all of us.  They live a few miles away on a farm.  What an ideal place to be.  Beautiful, comfortable, secluded and tranquil!  These four cousins cannot be topped as gracious hosts.  Everything was well-planned and every meal a treat.  The activities and the relaxing times were just outstanding and perfect.  It was truly one of the best trips we have ever taken! 

We spent part of each day at both houses. It was just the right mix of everything.   Fun activities, lots of time to just talk and catch us, the best company and delectable food and treats.  We went to the cemetery as a family and on Sunday night we watched the blood moon rising from various vantage points with spectacular views.  We shared pictures and family stories and family videos.  It was simply the best.  One day some went to see the artwork of David's son Brandon.  He does some super artwork and was selling it at the festival.  He stopped by to see everyone one evening with his two kids, Zander and Avery. He's our other family genealogist in the family up there.  It was nice to talk with him.  The men did a few guys things, some played golf, some stayed at the house and relaxed and Jim went to a museum about the history of the area.  Meanwhile the ladies made autumn wreathes to  remember this reunion by.

Early morning sunrise golf for Chuck, 
Jake, And David's son, Brandon, 
who joined them for the game.

 I've never really been able to experience farm life for a few days as an adult and it was transforming.  When was the last time you got to just sit and gaze off the front porch into a beautiful valley dotted with farms and facing the mountain range in the distance?  The porch spans the front of the house and  is lined with chairs for that very purpose.  Or when did you just sit for a few hours and chat with your cousins while watching sheep play follow the leader, in a pen somewhat far away but within sight of the porch?  Or tasted an apple still alive having just been plucked from a tree?   Or walked through a harvested corn field?   It was heavenly to spend time out there both day and night.

A View From The Porch

Ray built a really neat gazebo with an open top for sitting out by the fire pit and viewing the starry starry nights. Out there in the country where they have few lights to dim the starlight it is spectacular to gaze at that night sky.   The gazebo frame is large and has full size wooden bench swings all around hanging from it.  Ray is a teacher and has a lot of the same interests as Jim.  And they are both always on the go!  This family meshes so well, we are so blessed.  They all made us both feel so welcome.

Here are several photos that will be self-explanatory for the most part.

This is my new cousin William.
The joy of giving him that first big hug
 cannot be expressed.

And this one was pretty great too
in the cemetery near his parents' gravesite.

Jane in their lovely dining room area. 
 The windows are so phenomenal.
They bring the lovely garden right into the room. 
We just love Jane! 
She is classy and so much fun!

My cousin David and his wife Pennie
 at the beautiful buffet table.
She is a budding genealogist!
Pennie is so precious to me.  
We are working on her genealogy together 
on the phone! She is a fast learner!

Bill's wife, Rita, my cousin Judy and
 Shaun, my cousin Jake's wife.
I can't tell you how much I love this group
of beautiful cousins!

Beautiful Jane with my dear cousin Chuck!
Chuck and I were born 11 months apart
and I'm sure we hung out as babies 
since we lived in the same town.

They seem so together, happy and content. 
 They are just so relaxed and easy to be with...we miss them.  
We love them both to pieces!

Our grandparents only had 3 granddaughters!
Judy on the left and Jan on the right.
I love these two amazing women
 with all my heart and soul.
I'd choose them as my sisters any day!

Memories run deep with them.
All of these cousins are a big part of 
my Aunt Grace and our Grandma to me.
I did not know their Dad very well and our 
Grandfather died before any of us were born.

William, Me, Chuck, Janny, Judy, David and Jake
All the cousins on my Dad's side. 
 I wish my brothers and their wives 
could have been with us. I'll include a photo of them
since many of our cousins have not seen them for 
a long time.

Steve and Emily 
With 2 of their grandkids
 Sebastian and Samantha

Marilyn and Gary

David, Pennie, Jim, Bonnie, Jan, 
Chuck, Jane, Ray, Judy, 
Rita, William and Jake.  
Jake's wife Shaun took this picture. 

Jake and Shaun
Our newlyweds of 6 years
Cinderella and Her Prince!

One of the things we did as we gathered around the grave was we sang "You Are My Sunshine" because Aunt Grace used to sing it to the kids.  It made me wondered if her Mom sang it to her ever?  Also it made me think about my Dad and that he use to always sing to us as well.  His two songs were, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "The Yellow Rose of Texas!"  That must have been for his cute little niece, Shaun, who later married Jake.  She is the sweetest Southern Belle!  Full of charm~I could listen to her talk forever.  Uncle Ross would have loved her. 

Judy and her husband Ray
We like their life style on the farm very much!
These two are an amazing couple.
They are happy and good together!
They are very new empty nesters!
Judy is so much like Grace!
When I am with her I am with her mother.
My heart is just full I could talk about these cousins non-stop!

Oh Wait...I am!  sigh...

This is Pennie and David with Kirby 
their little Chihuahua on one of the hanging swings.

At last count my siblings and their wives had six of these little critters between them.  Wait! Is there a gene for Chihuahua lovers?  These two are so much fun.  I can still hear David's hearty laugh when we shared a funny video with them from our reunion with our kids, made a few years ago.

 Aunt Grace always loved to swim and had a pool at her houses in Sacramento and Redding.  She and I would hang out in the pool and talk for hours on end.  That is why I feel I know these cousins so well in spite of not seeing them very often growing up.  I don't think she ever mentioned David without calling him, "My David."  He is such a sweet man.  We love him dearly.  He and Pennie had a serious accident a few years ago.  We are so blessed to have them with us still!  Thank heavens!

Jake holding up his pink ice cream cone 
to a painting done by my Aunt Grace!
The painting is my favorite of her pieces. 
 It hangs in Judy's and Ray's beautiful new 
Farm Style Kitchen.

Jake is the youngest of my boy cousins and I remember him as the cutest little blond boy when we were growing up.  He always had a twinkle in his eye and he still does.  Such a good man and a very fun guy.  He married the perfect woman for him.  They radiate their love for each other.   It's heartwarming. They live in a castle by the sea...just too far away from all of us!

The Colbergs are traditionally ice cream lovers 
from way back as I understand it!  

      Here's another shot of Judy's kitchen and
 some of the cabinetry and island.   
      Rita is helping with the sandwich bar we 
had one evening at the farm. 

Just like me, Rita has two brothers!
We talked about that and how she got 
    5 new sisters too when William found them. 
What a Blessing Bill and Rita are! 
It truly feels like they have always been with us.
I couldn't be happier with all the spouses 
of my cousins and they loved Jim too!

Judy is an amazing baker 
and made this bread that morning, 
farm fresh eggs for the egg salad, etc.
It was the perfect dinner after the 
scrumptious Mexican dish and all the
 trimming that Jane had prepared for lunch.

Rita's birthday was during the visit and 
Jane made a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner for lunch. 

Jane's Beautiful Table!
 Rita's Pumpkin Pie with the candle in it.
Who wouldn't want to do this for 
their birthday?
Two Thanksgiving this year!
And we're twice as thankful so it works!

Guess what Judy made for us around dinner time
 that night?  She let Rita Choose!

Happy Birthday Rita!

The Best Carmel Apples E. V. E. R!

God bless you, Judy, for your talent, skills, and your love of nurturing from your special kitchen.  The Carmel Apples, popcorn, cheese and ice cream was Perfect.  Delicious and Fun and we all did appreciate this so much.  Good choice, Rita!

One morning we had ice cream on our oatmeal casserole that Jane made.  This family knows know how to throw a spectacular party.  I think Auntie Grace and My Dad would have would have loved this!  

Speaking of love...Shaun Hugging Judy!

There was a lot of love and hugs going on this entire time.  Especially in this beautiful country kitchen that night.  Their mother Grace was a master of showing affection and love!  No one ever had to wonder if they were loved when she was around. Her kids are all just like her.  The way she loved you was contagious.  And she was never afraid to say, "I love you!"  I for one, loved that about her.

Gathering under the Gazebo frame and the fire pit.  
That was especially fun!  We enjoyed the stories
 of the cousins' youth and things that William 
is catching up on about their childhood.

Ma Kettle and Her Beau!
Yikes I am actually posting this?
Scroll down quickly!

The Surprise Craft Project Judy organized

I wish I even knew who made each of these!
At our table Jan and Pennie and I had our eyes glued 
to our projects so we would not tar and feather 
ourselves with the glue glue and wreath embellishments!

The wrath I made will remind me of this amazing time. 
I'm still re-gluing some of the stuff!
 Judy supplied everything and it was a 
lot of fun doing it together.  
Judy is a natural!
We worked hard let me tell ya! 
Right, Janny Girl?  

Jake and Jim
The guys up in the mountain
 across the valley from the house 
waiting for the Blood Moon.

It did my heart good to see Jim among 
these wonderful men.
We have a close family no in-laws.  
Just cousins one and all.

I adore this photo and these guys...
it is one my favorites!

The sun setting on our family time together!  
We will miss all of you and hope we can make this a tradition!
Thanks Jake for the golfing photo, the front yard and valley
 and this amazing sunset.

The next morning we headed home...
We were sad to leave but so thankful for
 the time we had to celebrate 
Our Miracle!  
To honor our ancestors by remembering 
all they have blessed us with all of our lives.

The above is a photo of Jan's.  We removed it from its frame on her bedroom wall and I took this photo with my iPhone. Our Grandma is the 5th from the left in the top row.  Jan is like me she, she treasures the family memories and memorabilia as we all do.   She knew stories about our Grandmother that she shared that were so precious to me.  That is what led to her letting me copy this photo.

So I wanted to share the photo here.  It is another treasured reminder of this beautiful time.  Thank you everyone for the outstanding and poignant memories!  We love each and every one of you with all our hearts!  Let's do this again soon!

The best part of it all!  
Their family is together again...this time forever!

What was left of the Blood Moon 
in the early morning heading south to our home!

Lots of beautiful scenery all the way home.

Mt Hood in the distance!

Our first big show of colors this Autumn!

Nice to see a big body of water in Oregon!

Just a few miles from home and this was simply stunning. 
 A perfect ending to a beautiful time!


Nancy said...

I loved reading this post about the reunion, Bonnie! That's one happy family!

Sister Susie Says said...

Hi, Bonnie!
I am so happy to hear from you on my blog! I will always be your friend!!! I know you are a busy lady! Your blog's beginning picture is gorgeous! We don't see that kind of change in the trees leaves in Florida.

Isn't the beauty of the LORD fantastic! I can't begin to comprehend what His perfect beauty in Heaven is like!!

I haven't seen my cousins in years! I do have contact on the phone and e-mail with mom's nephew and his wife. I'm sure your time with your cousins was a time of joyful celebration!

Car camping would be my way too, ha!

In such places of serene beauty, isn't it wonderful to know that "To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD!"

Any animal lover is a lover of Chihuahuas too!

What a feast of food! I can only imagine how yummy to the tummy it was! Even craft making! You had a real October fest!

My, the pictures of the landscape is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your visit with your cousins!
Friend forever, Susan