Revisiting My Roots

Last weekend I attended a family reunion on my father’s side. I hemmed and hawed about going, but the Holy Spirit urged me – I needed to reconnect with my father’s family.

God seemed to have orchestrated the whole weekend because it couldn’t have been better. The plan was for me to drive from my home in southwest Missouri, stop at the airport to pick up my mom, sister, and niece, and drive on to our destination. We arrived at the airport pretty much at the same time; neither of us had to wait. The trip was smooth and without problems. Even the weather was ideal, being cooler than usual.

Hiawatha and Falls City were prettier than I remember ever seeing them. The crops all looked picture-perfect, with no bare spots or yellowing. The corn stood straight and tall, and perfectly in line, as if for inspection by a dignitary. The farmsteads looked immaculate, their lawns mowed and flowers blooming, exhibiting obvious pride in them. Even the shoulders of the highway were mown. It seemed as if it had all been done just for our visit.

This was the first time I’d been to the reunion in many years. Why, I can’t totally say. Life has a way of getting in the way, but the trip always seemed so long, and my memories of past reunions were of 100 degree days and brown crunchy crops.

As we traveled, flanked on both sides by verdant hills, I recalled trips from my childhood when my dad would comment on the crops, pointing out different types, and remembering which families farmed them. My dad was proud of his family and his childhood on the farm. He was with us in spirit this trip and I imagined how happy he would have been to see everything looking so lush. To my untrained eye, it looked like a good year for crops.

Visiting the family grain elevator with my father years ago during a previous visit.

When I was young I thought my uncles were handsome and had crushes on them. This time I especially enjoyed seeing familiar eyes, noses, and other familial features that they had in common with my dad.

My dad with four of his siblings.

From the backseat, my mother shared memories of her first visits to the farm and meeting all of my dad’s eight siblings. The whirlwind courtship and marriage between a farm boy and a city girl must have seemed unlikely to endure, but it lasted just ten months shy of 60 years. Still in our grieving period, this trip back to my dad’s boyhood home soothed us, and temporarily filled the void he left when he suddenly passed away about a year and a half ago.

My parents around the time they got married.

The reunion had a great turnout with over 70 people from five generations, with the oldest in her 90s, and the youngest just a few months old. Everyone visited leisurely under a tent and canopy of trees with lush grass underfoot. Nearby, kids played in a pond. It was an enjoyable and memorable day.

For many years, genealogy was one of my dad’s most time consuming hobbies. I share that interest with him, and took as many of his files and records as I could find, to continue his stewardship. I was happy to reconnect with other family members who share that interest so that we can collaborate to preserve the family heritage.

My dad with a rusty old water pump on the homeplace where he was born.

Although short, our trip was packed full of catching up with family members, and jaunts to the cemetery and other familiar places. My father’s family had farmed the area for many generations, so his roots ran deep there. As we left, I took some last admiring glances at the rolling hills covered in crops, and the fertile soil that also grew the wonderful man who became my father. Green has long been my favorite color – it feels fresh and alive. And in that moment, I felt very green.

One last glance

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