First Family Gathering

June 13–My sister had been planning since last year for a family reunion for this summer when her son’s family from Poland was due for a long state-side visit. When COVID hit, we all wondered how and if that could happen. But my nephew managed to get a last-minute flight from Berlin to Atlanta, and state regulations loosened just in time to let the five families meet at a cabin in George Washington National Forest, here in Virginia. The cabin is surrounded by a large grassy yard, bounded by the St. Mary’s River and wooded land.

With the habit of staying home mostly, and avoiding crowded places, I felt uncomfortable at first to be among them. But my longing for family and conversation in that lovely setting won out. In fact, the town I come from probably has more cases than any of the places they came from. Walking along the singing river, hearing about my grand niece’s first year interrupted college experience, a nephew’s struggle to keep his private school open, pushing little ones on the swings, playing harmonica with a farming grand nephew, and eating lots of good home-made food at picnic tables outside were among the joys of this gathering. It was hard to leave without hugs, and I pray we all stay well as we go back to our distancing rituals.

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