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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   A committee of cousins

© Another Day in the Country

The other night at supper, Jess asked, “Do you know what a group of vultures is called?” I didn’t!

How does the subject of vultures come up in an ordinary conversation? “Could it be a flock?” I wondered — since a group of chickens is a flock and sometimes a group of birds could be called a flock; but that wasn’t the answer.

“No, it’s a different word,” Jess said, “something unusual!” so she “Googled it” and discovered “It’s a committee! I knew it was something you wouldn’t expect.”

Speaking of the unexpected, we suddenly had a committee of cousin’s and their kids converging in the greater Ramona area, this past weekend. I think it would be fair to call them a committee because they had big plans for their time together.

The younger set, coming from far-flung corners of Colorado and Missouri, were all meeting the cousins from Ramona at an entertainment spot where you can jump on all kinds of trampolines. The teenagers were all excited to be going and the grandmothers were excitable wondering if they’d all make it to the same address, at the same time, in the big metropolis of Salina.

Meanwhile, the “original” cousins migrated from one house to another, playing card games and catching up on the latest family news.

Jess always likes something “meaningful” to happen at our family gatherings. “I’ve never been one to like folk to just bop in, eat a chicken leg, and leave,” she said. So, as we sat around the table she popped the question to our cousins, “What one word would you say describes you?”

It was quiet for a bit and then Cousin Vicki said, “Well, I think it would be a people-pleaser.”

We all looked at her and nodded because we’ve known Vick for a long time and we knew to what great lengths she went to keep folks happy.

Next came Cousin Keith. All eyes were on him. “Dependable,” he said. Once again, heads nodded in affirmation.

Cousin Becky came from Wichita, on the spur of the moment, to join the fun. Her answer was that she was always “Prepared.” We all smiled remembering her coming to family reunion when her boys were little. She always had an ice chest full of drinks and snacks! Just like her father before her, she never set out for Ramona without tools in the trunk, a “pee-can,” as well as Windex and a rag for washing the windshield.

We all agreed with Cousin Gary that his one word description would be “Get-r-done!” and that the word for Cousin Carol was “Advocate.” If you’ve ever waited in line too long, been ignored by a waitress, or sat for hours at a doctor’s office, Carol is the one you want with you. Cousin Jessica said that her word was, “Responsible,” and Cousin Pat said, “It’s Creative.”

Later that evening, the generations gathered at Kristina and LeeRoy’s place. Three generations of Schubert kin, with memories of four and five generations of loved ones long gone but somehow still present in the mix.

Suddenly I realized that my “one word” description was shifting. My word would now be “oldest” of all the cousins, kids, and kid’s kids. “How could this be?” I remember so well when I was running with cousins through the Ramona Park, in and out Grandma’s back door, and up and down the attic stairs. And then, suddenly, it was my little girls running through the house with their cousins. And now all these cousins’ kids have children of their own tearing through the yard and yelling with delight.

There were 20-some of us gathered, ranging in age from 2 to 82. While all of us were talking at once, the youngest stood on a chair in a corner looking at her reflection in the window as she sang the “ABC Song” and stomped her foot to keep time. She was right on key but unaware that everyone had stopped to listen, “Q, R, S, T, U, Vvvv, W, X, Y and Zeeee,” and everyone started clapping. Madilyn was so surprised! She turned in shock at the noise, covered her face with her hands and then dove head first into her Mama’s lap, embarrassed but still a little pleased at her own performance.

Looking around the room, as the chatter resumed, I thought, “This is my family! And I’m so lucky to be part of the mix!” I don’t even mind if I’m the oldest so long as the 16-year-old still hugs me “hello,” the 29-year-old needs help with a project, and the 6-year-old wants me to play in his band. What more could you want on another day in the country?

Last modified Oct. 17, 2019

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