The celebration of life

Lei-anne's husband Jack took this photo of the five of us, together for the first time in years. Russellville, Alabama, September 2014

Lei-anne’s husband Jack took this photo of the five of us, together for the first time in years.
Russellville, Alabama, September 2014

“Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe…”
Robert Farrar Capon

In at least three generations of my mother’s family, the males outnumber the females by a ratio of two to one, or more.  This means that I had only three female cousins on my mother’s side, but three times that many male cousins.

About a year ago, my sister sent me a picture of herself with these three special ladies, and pointed out that I was the only one missing in the photo. I started to photoshop myself in, but decided instead to go for the live photo session next time I was in North Alabama.  I was blessed to be able to be there recently, and here’s the photo to prove it. To my knowledge, this is the only time the five of us have been together for any photos.

It turned out to be a brilliant excuse to spend an evening together.  We all ate out at an Asian buffet and had a great time visiting with each other, our Aunt Peggy, and Lei-anne’s brave spouse Jack, the only one of our five husbands who came along for the get-together.  He snapped most of the photos.  Later, Carla’s family joined us, bringing along two of the newest blessings in our family, her twin grandchildren.

Though we couldn’t even remember exactly when we had last all been together at the same time (probably it was at Granny’s funeral in 1980) we had a great time chatting with each other, connected by family ties and distant memories.

In today’s world, increasing numbers of us live far from our extended families.  We may go for years and years without seeing each other.  Facebook and other social media have helped bridge this gap for many of us, but nothing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations and warm hugs.

One of the greatest blessings of my life is the distant but never forgotten presence of a very large extended family, some of whom are related by blood, and some who became family through years of close association.  Though life has carried us far from each other geographically, and we seldom are able to visit, the memories and bonds are a continual source of strength.

I’m guessing you too have such special people in your life, dear ones who are your born or chosen family.  If there are some who are far away from you today, why not take a minute to get in touch via a mailed note, a call or a quick Facebook hello?  Today, let’s celebrate life by joining in the “floating cosmic bash” of shared love and connection.  If you are a non-celebrant, consider yourself hounded!

One year ago today:

Exciting today



  1. Bah, Humbug! (This morning’s snow is causing me to channel ole Ebeneezer.)
    Heath hounds me more effectively 🙂

    • Well, Heath is a HOUND, of course he can hound well! I think dogs are a big visible sign that grace is indeed a celebration. Even when it snows. 😀

  2. Julia,
    What a wonderful photo.
    No comment can do justice to the warmth and joy as seen in the eyes of you and your family.

    • Thanks so much Alan! It was great for us to be all together again, even if only for an evening that passed all too quickly. The memories (and photos) stay.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, I’ve had blessings from afar today in the form of “Defeat Despair,” a photo sent of Bristol’s first snowfall covering the golden leaves, a phone call from my Winston Salem best friend to let me know she’s decorating for the holidays, and a Florida cousin texting a fun Halloween photo. Love can certainly cross the miles in many ways! Just as we changed the page on our calendar so did our weather change. I hope you’re having a good weekend. 😍

    • Sheila, I TOTALLY LOVE Club Verandah this month! BTW the gray kitty is still with us, he just popped over to an undisclosed location. He prefers to keep a low profile. I have decided he is the virtual version of Benjie, a gray kitten we loved and lost during our childhood years. Love can and does cross the miles — and the years — in many ways! WOW, did the weather ever change today! Did you get any snow? Jeff asked me if you did while ago, and I said I thought not. He said Columbia SC did, though. We are having a very nice weekend; I slept super late today because I had gotten so far behind on rest.

      • Sheila

        Julia, our temps had been so mild until this morning. We didn’t get snow, although Columbia got the wintery mix. I like that Club Verandah,too. It seems so fitting for November. I remember a photo you posted that had a kitty with y’all, before you went to church, maybe? Well, my friend, I’m so glad you’re having a good weekend.

        • That kitty in the photo, Kitt Katt, was the calico cat that was the mama of Benjie. He was one of the kitties that we couldn’t find a home for (or else liked so much we decided to keep him; I can’t remember which) and we had him until he was almost a year old, as far as I can remember, but then I think he was hit by a car. I’m not sure. I just remember crying and crying and crying when he died. We were heartbroken. So it’s nice to have him back in a cyber version! It’s sunny today so I might head out for a walk. Glad you are not shoveling snow on top of the sand! 😀

  4. bobmielke

    I am anti-facebook.

    • Bob, a lot of people are, and I was in the beginning. I have always referred to it as “the Hotel California” and though I grudgingly admit that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, I do believe in keeping a tight rein on it, and there are still things about it that I hate. I prefer Twitter and Pinterest, but these too have their drawbacks. Technology can be such a time trap.

      • bobmielke

        After watching the movie about the founder I couldn’t remain a member in good conscious. My nieces were on there and used it for nonsensical dribble that wasted my time. Ironic that since I withdrew from Facebook I haven’t heard one work from them. So be it!

        • That movie was interesting, wasn’t it? The book I’m now reading (The End of Big) says that it’s a mistake to think of technology as neutral. So far I’m finding the argument convincing.

      • Anon E. Moose

        “You can check out anytime you like; but you can never leave.”

        • That is exactly the verse I had in mind when I started using that term. I had not intended to get on Facebook at all; I signed on only because a writing friend wanted me to look at her page and tell her what I thought. But I couldn’t do that without signing on, and then they wouldn’t let me sign off. I started getting friend invitations before I even finished registration. I went round and round trying to figure some way out, but by then it was too late.

  5. I love the picture because I treasure all of my nieces. Love, Peggy

    • Thank you Peggy! We all treasure you too! ❤

  6. raynard

    Julia just got back fro. Uncles funeral in NJ.Also had lunch with one of my brother in law and his wife and the nurse who took care of our uncle. Then it was a short visit to my brother in law’s in laws house close to my daughters house.last two days long and tiresoming mentally. Aunt too funeral well she’s relaxed and more calmer. Now all we have tondo is tie up some loose ends with the x in laws of her acting like outlaws..

    • Raynard, thanks for the update. I had been thinking of you and your wife, and wondering how things were going. I hope the next few weeks will be more restful for you. I will keep you in my prayers.

  7. raynard

    Julia , thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.Be blessed

    • Raynard, you are welcome. I appreciate your presence here and at UR, as well as your faithful help to your family and others.

  8. It makes me smile to see that apparently wearing bright colors is strong trait in your family! How very fun!

    • Susan, I never thought about it till you mentioned it, but we are definitely a colorful bunch. 😀

  9. Michael

    So Facebook is not a neutral? Are they trying to sell me something? O h thanks for the tip on the Adblocker site which finally dealt with my annoying pop-ups.
    I don’t Twitter yet, but I can do some slow texting on my dumb phone. I still have to peck out the individual letters slowly on my defunct key pad. I Have an industrial strength phone that I have dropped mine a couple of times on the sidewalk and it is still running.
    Did you know you are dated now if you wear a watch to a job interview. So I don’t wear a watch anymore which is ironic in that I only wore one to interviews in the past.
    I think I know what Pinterest is- however, not really sure.

    • Oh, I am just SO SURE that Facebook is not out to make money…NOT!!! Twitter is good for skimming and keeping up with the grapevine, but truthfully I seldom follow it. My dumb phone is now nearly 10 years old and it too has taken a lot of abuse, but I know lots of people with phones that costs hundreds of dollars who got cracked screens the first time they were dropped. I am going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of smart phones eventually, but I’m holding out as long as I can…

  10. Julia, great picture of you and your cousins!

    • Thank you, Merry! It was so fun to be together.

  11. LB

    A gathering and a photo to be treasured

    • Thank you, LB. I hope some of us will have another gathering to be treasured in April!

  12. Sheila

    Julia, I’m so glad Carla planted that little seed and another reunion happened that you could enjoy and complete the group. I agree with Susan that the brightness, the happiness, and “family together” makes a wonderful celebration.

    • Thank you Sheila. It was the sort of party you would have loved, I’m sure! 😀

  13. I envy you that large, caring family, Julia. I’m delighted that you were able to travel and pose for this photo. I know you’ll treasure it always.

    • Thank you Alys. Reading your comment, I am reminded of when my mother had her brain surgery (for a bleeding aneurysm, just a few months before our wedding in 1980). When I arrived at the hospital in Atlanta, I saw my uncles (the fathers of the cousins pictured)…all big, strong men, waiting at the hospital with us, and their presence was such a comfort. In their quiet demeanor and their very appearance, they just projected strength. It was so great to be with their daughters again.

      • You are such a good story teller, Julia. What a great set of memories.

        • Thank you, Alys. Having a good memory can be a curse as well as a blessing, but I try to “train” myself to emphasize the good ones, and there is always plenty of good. Sometimes I wish my memory and/or my imagination was not so vivid. They say imagination influences our memory, and I believe it, but I am certain about the huge boost to my spirits I got when I saw my uncles standing there in the hospital lobby. I didn’t realize they were planning to make the trip.

          • That is true, Julia. We wouldn’t be living if we didn’t have a set of the good and the bad, but it can feel like a burden at times, can’t it?

            Seeing loving faces at a time of need, especially when unexpected, is a gift. You have a wonderful family.

            • Thank you Alys! ❤ There has always been plenty of love to go around several times. I feel thankful for that.

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