Skip to content

A Family Reunion Back the “Holler”

October 22, 2022

Another Way for week of October 14, 2022

A Family Reunion Back the “Holler”

How does his family become your family? Or hers–yours? How can people you never knew growing up, become as precious as the cousins and aunts and uncles you knew as a little tyke?

My husband’s cousin, Johnny owns a piece of heaven. He and his wife Judy were happy to share it with the broader family recently, for our first family reunion in three years if my calculations are correct. (I’ll only use first names here.)

My husband, right, and cousin Johnny, left.
Judy, hostess, and cousin LaraBeth.

We headed out to the nearby Appalachian/Allegheny hills, and drove back a long long holler (holler: a small valley between some mountains or hills).

There’s a small creek and a still active spring of water near the old homestead. We packed our lawn chairs, our coolers, our old photos and bumped our way there on a beautiful September Sunday afternoon.

A still active spring.

It was an emotional homecoming for me and even though I didn’t grow up playing in the creek back there or sipping from the spring, my husband’s family has become my wider family and I had to squeeze back some tears although I couldn’t have been much happier.

Catching up.

The other sentiment that surfaced for me was how my husband and I are now part of the older generation, because those older than us are all gone. Done with this life on earth, awaiting us in a better place. But I think they would have been emotional and happy too, to know we were gathering in the same space they did for so many years. Johnny’s father was named George and he and his wife Mae farmed there. George’s father, Perry lived there until Grandpa Perry needed to move to a daughter’s home near town for old age care. Stuart’s mother, Estella, grew up on the property there, though in a different house (which burned down) than the one shown in these photos.

I once wrote about the dinnerplate-sized dahlias you could find at Aunt Mae’s house. No dahlias are grown there anymore but Johnny still raises a few awesome huge vegetables in that ground. The kitchen and cookstove were the same that he grew up with, the living room and its potbelly stove were the same, even though the flooring underneath is weakening with the passage of time.

George and Mae’s beloved garden

And so we were glad to watch the new little adorables toddling about, or cuddled napping in lawnchairs,

and racing down hillsides with plastic riding cars, or begging a 13-year-old cousin to wade in the somewhat muddy creek from recent rains.    

My aunts and uncles are all gone now too, along with my mother who was the last surviving “aunt” for many in my “Indiana family.” The anniversary of her death last year, at the ripe age of 97, was October 11. She was seven years younger than my father, and he was the “baby” of his family, so there was considerable spread in the ages of the siblings in his family. (Below: George and May’s kitchen, cookstove, and potbellied stove in the living room.)

This year has brought a reckoning: how many years do my husband I have? Twenty years is a hope. Psalm 90:10 says most of us will live three score years and ten (about 70) or perhaps are lucky enough to live until 80. “But most of those years are filled with hard work and pain. They pass quickly and we fly away,” one Bible version puts it. However long or short the years may be, it is a time of summation. How many grandsons will I see graduate from high school, or marry, or have children of their own? Will we live to see great grandchildren, as many of my friends and relatives already have? (We began our family a bit late—not our fault but I would say by the mercy of God we finally had children.)

We all live because of the compassion of the Gracious One. I am thankful for the seventy years I’ve had and especially thankful for my extended family, both sides, scattered all over the U.S. Today we can connect by computer and Zoom, Facetime and Google. Nothing is better than a real live hug, but we’ll take the connections we can get!


Meeting one cousin (on right) for first time.
Chowing down and visiting.

Did you have family get togethers or reunions this year? What things stood out?

Are there special places you love for the memories?

Comment here or write to me at or Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Melodie, what a beautiful reflection. . . and very nostalgic too! Visiting places associated with those no longer with us is bittersweet as you and I know so very well.

    What I remember about family reunions: The mingling of generations, the good food, conversations with those we don’t see very often. Family reunions of my childhood: Dinner in the meadow with Bossler church people, the Metzler reunion at Lititz Springs Park, and then many indoor dinners.

    Since you’ve read my manuscript, I’ve added quite a bit of new material, including a contrast between Cliff’s and my socializing with family. A big difference!

    • Thanks for your comments and I love that numerous relatives have also commented on this post on FB. You hit it on mingling of generations, good food, conversations. 🙂

      I along with many others look forward to reading your finished book! Thanks for the update.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Trisha Faye

Cherishing the Past while Celebrating the Present


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

Tuesdays with Laurie

"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

Hickory Hill Farm

Blueberries, grapes, vegetables, and more

The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The Website & Blog of David D. Flowers

Cynthia's Communique

Navigating careers, the media and life

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

mama congo

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.


Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

%d bloggers like this: