On Sunday we were blessed with a gathering of my my mother's cousins. We started this as an annual tradition a few years ago. When my aunt and uncle in Colorado shipped me several boxes of family photos, letters, genealogy files and miscelaneous papers that had belonged to my maternal grandmother, I spent several months scanning as many of the photos as I could. Once I got all the pictures digitized I took two suitcases of the original photographs with me to Arizona to pass them back to the various family groups that the pictures were of. That first visit at Gloria's house was very special as we all shared family stories from over the years. Our love for each other began to blossom that day, and has grown stronger with every gathering since.
Last year we held our gathering in November at Don Goddard's place, right before Larry and I were to head out on our mission. We assumed this year we would be skipping our annual get together due to our mission. That had worried me since several of the people who come each year are getting up in years and some have had some serious health challenges recently. We never know how many more visits like this there may be. When we learned we would be getting to come to the USA for this special trip, one of the joys of that was knowing I could be with these dear ones again. I love them more than I can say.
I especially appreciated my aunt, Nina Lovett (pictured here with her youngest son, John), for hosting the gathering this year. For many years Nina and I did not have a warm relationship. The truth is, for a long time I chose not to communicate with her at all. The reasons why no longer matter. It is significant to me though, that right before our mission, Nina and I reclaimed the opportunity to share each other's lives. Both of us softened our hearts and let go of the harsh judgments that had caused bumps in the past. I'm so grateful for that. Life is too short for holding grudges over old hurt feelings or offences. I feel richly blessed to have Nina back in my life.
Families can be complicated. The Pendley clan certainly has been. Yet the blessings of family connection offer a richness to life like no other. I'm glad that I've learned that lesson before it was too late.