Friday, 28 April 2017
A family reunion
Easter weekend saw 76 members of our extended family gather in Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Home for the older generation of cousins and somewhere most of our kids had never been!
On Friday afternoon we set up the hall. What could have been a big job was made easy when people just kept arriving and we ended up with an old fashioned working bee going. The men got to work putting the tables up and the women got to work in the kitchen. Some things never change :) When all was set up it was a quick dash back to our motels for a shower and change of clothes, then back to the hall for our 'meet and greet' evening.
We had hired a church hall and were very impressed with all the facilities provided. Because it was Good Friday we had fish and chips, hot cross buns and whitebait on the menu. This was supplemented with fruit platters and small cakes, with wine, beer and soft drink as well as tea and coffee. One sister, who shall remain nameless, ordered a slab of cake, thinking she would get something big enough for everyone to have a small piece each - it came in a wooden box and took up the entire back seat of her car! She'll take a while to live that one down.
We had a lot of fun that evening, meeting family we hadn't see for decades in some cases and also meeting their kids and grandkids. People had brought their photo's along as well as other articles of interest, the family bible, some iron ore from a mine our ancestors worked in England - the owner had smuggled it out of the mine when she went to see it. The family tree was there for anyone to take copies of and the family historian had interesting letters and other papers to look at. We decorated with daffodils and flags, Granma's favourite flowers were daffodils and Grandad's nickname was Flags, so we thought it was appropriate.
When people first arrived they took a balloon off the stage and had to find the person whose name was on the name tag. I was a bit iffy as to whether the men would take part but I think most of them found a kid and did it with them, that way it wasn't really them playing with balloons :) I loved seeing the big age range. I think the youngest was about 7 years old and my Aunty was the eldest at 86. At the dinner on Saturday night she told us all there was one week and one month between her and Mum, what she meant was one year and one month. We all had a good laugh over that. That's her below with balloons all over her wheelchair. We were all very proud of her as she had a stroke earlier in the year but managed (was determined) to attend most events for at least part of the time.
At 9:30pm when it was time to go everyone pitched in again and it only took about an hour or so to clear everything away and make our way to our beds. Well, those with kids headed to their beds, my branch of the family met up again in my youngest brothers motel and we spent a couple of hours reminiscing and catching up with each other. Two of us live in NZ and the other two who were there are living in Australia, and two didn't make it. My daughters and their families didn't join us either as they had to drive quite a way to where they were staying. We socialised with them later in the weekend. And that completed our Friday night.
Did I say it poured with rain all day and night on Friday? Well Saturday morning when we were due to go to the cemetery to put flowers on our grandparents grave we were still being blasted with torrential rain, the tail end of Cyclone Cook. Those of us who grew up on the coast weren't at all fazed as this sort of rain is quite normal for the area but I think one or two of the younger ones wondered what had hit them. We had a good turnout of people at the cemetery, mostly the older cousins as we were the ones who spent time with our grandparents, but it was nice to see some of the younger ones there as well. And as you can see, although it was grey and cloudy the rain stopped and the weather continued to get better and better as the day wore on.
My eldest cousin (the family patriarch) said a few words
and we had a minute silence before we all went our
different ways for the rest of the morning.
My GKB and my son and daughter in law and I all went down to the beach which was just below the cemetery. It was cold and blustery but it was nice to relax and take a walk before we all gathered again at Shantytown after lunch. My son takes some quite arty photos and I followed him trying to get the same shots - but mine are not arty at all :(
And Shantytown is going to have a post of it's own,
so I think I will stop here and continue another day.
That's more than five photo's and probably not quite
five minutes of reading but I'd still like to take part in:
I would also appreciate prayers for my little mother as she has been staying with me since Easter and is on complete rest. We travel to Hamilton on Monday for a CT scan (don't ask) and the plan at the moment is that they will send us home again on Wednesday then send us another appointment to go back for her heart operation. We are praying the operation will be done while we are in Hamilton without the need for another trip. We live in Dunedin in the south of the South Island, Hamilton is in the middle of the North Island and we will be travelling for about 4 hours. Many thanks.