And yet, every 3-4 years most of us have been able to gather together at the beach, thanks to the generosity of Mom and Dad.
This year was the first time we were missing the key person who made it all possible: DAD
My mother had mixed feelings about having another reunion after his death in November of 2012. But she and Dad had always said these reunions were one of the best investments they’d ever made. They took great joy in watching their children and other family members have fun together and form strong bonds.
And so, Mom decided she wanted to continue the tradition. We all came together last week at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
What she and the rest of us didn't know was that my sister’s husband Gary had figured out a way for us to “see” Dad all week. Gary designed a banner that included our favorite picture of Dad from a previous reunion, along with purple letters and gold lines (LSU colors).
During dinner the first night, Gary slipped out with two of the guys and hung the banner so it would be visible anytime you looked out from the house.
When he came back inside, he guided Mom over to the gigantic sliding doors. The rest of us followed behind. The tears flowed freely at the moment we all looked out and saw that beautiful tribute to the man who’d made these reunions possible.
Every day we could feel Dad’s spirit with us as we ate meals, laughed together or played in the pool below the banner. We knew he’d take great pride in the fun we were having.
The banner had to be taken down Thursday evening as the threat of Hurricane Arthur loomed near. But that wasn't the end of it.
Friday evening Gary spread the banner on one of the dining room tables and encouraged everyone to write a note on it, expressing what the week had meant to them. Reading those beautiful, heart-felt messages stimulated more tears and hugs as we reminisced about Dad and what he’d meant to our family.
As I now reflect on that special week, I’m filled with gratitude for the legacy Dad left to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yes, we’ve been enriched by his thriftiness and generosity, which made these special times with family possible. But more importantly, we continue to aspire to be better human beings because of his own humble, kind and sensitive nature. His spirit will inspire us for the rest of our lives.