Monday, July 16, 2012


Most women notice when they find they have their mother's hands.  I have my dad's.  Ain't that a kick in the ass....

Its a random thought but one I noticed from a picture we had taken of our family taken at the Laurenz family reunion.  It was only missing Annie and Pete, two big 'missings', but unavoidable.  I just counted myself fortunate that Korey, Jen and Vittoria were home, rather unexpectedly and could stop by the reunion for a bit. 

I loved the picture, the babies frozen in time for me, as they will be so different the next time I see them, even Luca who I see every week will be growing, getting another tooth, a haircut, or a bump or bruise from a tumble he'll be taking as he stretches the limits of his walking, no rushing into life.  Vittoria is heading back to New York City this morning with her mom while Korey heads back to Milwaukee to finish his project for work.  It was a brief reunion but oh so welcome and so appreciated. 

Summer always seems the time for reunions.  Family reunions, yearly festivals which are reunions of a sort and those events that mark a definite page in history.  I had all of them this summer.   Two weeks ago we marked the 150th celebration of Richland Township.  Hemlock, as a city designation, was never incorporated so the anniversary's of age have always fallen on Richland Twp., even though I am sure in most people's minds, it is still Hemlock's anniversary.  The planning for this started over two years ago.  I must admit, though I attended the first planning meeting, I really became no further involved aside from what the Historical Society was doing.  So many things were coming to a head in my life then that I didn't seem to have the energy to become involved.  Something I now regret, but also a lesson learned.  When opportunities are there, take them.  If we wait for someone else to do it all, it will never be to our satisfaction, but we have no place to complain. 

I was eight years old at the 100th, centennial celebration of our town.  I remember the excitement and the pioneer dress my grandma made for me with a matching bonnet.  I remember the parade that added to the feeling later, that my eighth year of life, was my best year on earth.  But I remember little else from that celebration.  I look back at pictures that my mom so clearly recalls and reminisces about, and its kind of a blank to me.  It looked like great fun and great community participation. 

During the 125th, or quasquicentennial, I had three young children.  My sister and brother and their families were all in Michigan visiting and we were running hither, thither and yonder trying to catch everything going on.  Mom and Dad were very involved and everything just stampeded along.  Annie, who was about four that year, wore my pioneer dress, and I wore my grandma's.  I added a white pinafore apron, I made, (my first and pretty much, only apron sewed by me.  The way I bake, I should never be without one, but anyway....). The boys and Kurt wore bib overalls and matching neck scarves.  It was a couple of days of just going from place to place in a dizzying and now, blurry rush.  Ryan won the kid's pedal tractor pull and made the Saginaw News with the picture of him pedaling. The world was still our young oyster, and we rushed headlong without really knowing where we were going and why the rush. It was the last such celebration I would have with my grandparents or my dad though that didn't seem possible at the time.

Twenty five years went by in the blink of an eye this time.  My kids are grown and gone.  I have two baby grand children and those I dearly love who gave me my sense of community and continuity are gone.  Mom retired from caring much about this 150 celebration, this sesquicentennial.  The force to love her heritage died out with my dad and she prefers now to be an observer.  It seems sad to me, but I am coming to find, it is her way.  I can accept it and take from it the lessons it has to teach.

The finale to a yearlong celebration of Richland Township's sesquicentennial started with a community potluck dinner at the Richland Twp. Park.  A very nice turnout and so much food you couldn't pile it all on a plate.  Something that is enduring and comforting, the rural areas still know how to put on potlucks.  I have never been to one where the "pot was unlucky".  There was a period costume contest.  At the last minute before we left I scrounged up a pair of bib overalls and an old, old scarf and tied my hair up in a babushka.  I dug out an old pair of saddle shoes I still possessed and went as "Rosie the Riveter".  They didn't say what period it had to be.  I had great fun.  The best costume went to a 125 year old authentic maternity dress, saved by Shirley Pankow and modeled by Carol Wardin.  How special that people quietly have done such things.  Viewing those things I look back on the things that someday I will likely have to choose to part with and what I will save. 

I will save the quilt my Grandma Walter made for me from fabric scraps of old clothing my mother gave to her.  I can still identify many of the scraps from dresses I once had.  I will keep the walnut hope chest, Grandpa Laurenz gave to Grandma on her 19th birthday, six weeks before they married.  Along with it I will keep the straw boater hat, Grandpa courted Grandma in.  I have a small wood, hump back box, that came with Grandma Walter's family from Germany.  Inside it is a small cedar box, left in my dad's home when we moved in.  Inside it is the trinkets and things of a young girl's life.  I will keep it.  I will save some pieces of things my dad built for me and the kids.  They are his legacy more than anything else.  Of my mother, I hope to save her writings and her recipes, her artwork, as they are my small, farm wife of a mother.  Her love of drawing and writing and gardening are things she has passed on to me that need no reminder. What my children may want to keep I have no ideas.  The boys will likely want things such as their father's guns and decoys to remind them.  Annie, I am not sure, but passing down some things is worth the hassle and the time. 

The parade for the sesquicentennial seemed smaller this time and the crowd much less.  It is the way of small town celebrations.  Less young people to help carry the loads and those that are here now, often have no connection with the history of the town they now reside in.  The exhibits and the work were appreciated.  The township worship service on Sunday morning was wonderful. 

Bits and pieces of what makes me, me.  Yesterday we had the annual Laurenz reunion.  Not a great turnout, but its a risk you take with it being summer and cousins with young children busy.  Many of the cousins kids no longer live around here.  I was fortunate I know to have had two sons and families there this year.  Still, it seems its for us the cousins who can still come and the aunts and uncles who make the effort.  My frail mom walks beside her younger brothers and they bend low now, to help her.  They are all gray and fortunate to still be among us.  We don't know how much longer the four children will still be here, so we take the time. 

Reunions are a funny thing, but family is still, in all of these times of endless strife and depression, the tie that binds.....

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