Guest post by Kookie Stanley Hemperley
I wrote this back in ’96 about family reunions. These days people wouldn’t be pulling out their wallets to show family photos; they’d just pop out their cell phones!
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR
We all gather around, kissing and hugging
While the aroma of fried chicken and apple pie fills the optic and smelling senses
As new babies are introduced to the clan
And older relatives are greeted and offered a helping hand.
Pictures pop from wallets like jacks in boxes
As mid-size kids make their way outside; bored with it all
Dodging Aunt Gracie and her ruby lipstick that leaves behind tell-tale smooch marks, impossible to remove.
Memories of when we were children
Of embarrassing situations,
Some we’d rather forget
Are related by a narrator who has them firmly embedded in his mind and on uncanny ability to embellish upon them.
Quite often they’re followed by laughter.
Frequently they are concluded by “not Me!”
Long tables are filled with family recipes, full of calories and cholesterol
Serving dishes vary from Grandma’s black crusted cast iron skillet to a Colonel Sanders’ bucket.
Hands joined, heads bent, someone invokes the blessing of nourishment of bodies and souls, with special thanks for our safe voyages.
Those who have departed on a voyage of another kind are somberly remembered.
A resound “Amen” breaks the silence and the binge begins.
Gray haired women and new brides clear away the dishes.
The older males, refreshed by a breeze under a spreading oak tree, whittle on fallen twigs while balancing on the back legs of straight chairs.
Their creations serve no purpose other than to wile away time or show off a new Buck knife
As younger dads teach the art of flying a kite or how to slide in safely at home plate.
A freckled face boy on a bag swing nearly rams one of the elderly gents as two little girls play Barbies
And two little boys scuffle in the dirt.
The shade grows longer and one by one they load their empty casserole dishes and Igloo coolers for the homeward pilgrimage
With invitations one to another to “come when you can”
Or the echoed refrain of “Same time next year.”
The little girls, shy only hours ago, separate their Barbies.
The little boys, neither of which has a shiner to display as a badge, glare at each other as if to say, “Same time next year.”
The reunion ends as it began with hugs and kisses
And a few teary eyes.
As the family car pulls away, the little girl, squirming in the back seat asks,
“Who was that girl I played with?”
“Your kissin’ cousin,” comes the reply.
Her brother brushes dust from his jeans and rolls his eyes.
“Will I see her again?” asks the little girl.
“Same time next year.”
The little boys a large toothless grin.
“MA! He’s laughing at me.”
“Am not,” he says peering out the rear window while making a grotesque face at the little boy he had tussled with earlier in the day.
Same time next year he thinks; and the grin grows broader.
~Kookie Stanley Hemperley~
Here are a few more photos from this reunion, a great time was had by all.