Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Circle Unbroken

June 23rd, 1966

Dear Children,
This is my last desire that you children stay together on this last little earthly business of mine, loving one another better than you ever have and prepare to each meet this day with complete trust in Jesus Christ, my Savior and yours. If Daddy is left, take care of him because you know I loved him. May this bring each one of you closer to the “Cross” is my prayer for you. I’ll be waiting to see you in Heaven when the circle will never be broken.
I love every one of you.

These words were read before grace last Saturday at the Annual Speir Family Reunion. “You children” refers to Jeff’s mother, Betty and her three siblings: Lavonne, James and Sandra. As the sun hit its lunchtime place, the long awaited food was spread and all 37 of us were gathered from the four corners of the never ending Georgia yard. Uncle James got everyone’s attention and pulled a paper from his pocket. He told us about the letter written by his mother and also about the generations recorded back to the mid 1800’s so the family wouldn’t forget. As the words were read, children tried to stand still, a baby squirmed and I watched those four faces, brothers and sisters, remembering, loving, missing and honoring. They are doing it—the “stay together” part of their Mother’s letter written some four decades ago--- year by year, June by June.

Uncle Lavonne, Betty (Jeff's Mom), Aunt Sandra, Uncle James

A family reunion. Even with the bad wrap reunions get, this one has managed to survive. Personally, I like them. Where else can you see that many family members at once? On neutral territory. With lots of yummy food. A mess of cousins for playmates. All sorts of news to discover. A chance to play Smash the Egg. And lots of delicious food. (Did I mention that?) I like this get together in particular because there in the land where the tea flows sweet from the pitcher, no one asks me to “say that word again. It’s SO cute,”, the desserts are ALWAYS homemade, little girls always don something smocked or trimmed in grossgrain, the barbeque is pork and “chipped” (the right way), the cakes come in multiple layers, and other grown women, besides myself, refer to their fathers as “Daddy”. Refreshing as the scent of a magnolia bloom. However, the main reason I enjoy the Annual Speir Family Reunion is I married into a pretty neat family.

The beautifully written letter from Mrs. Florence Ethel Reese Speir, in its kind and gentle tone, tells a loud tale that has been retold in each of her children’s lives. Her prayer for salvation has been answered, they have remained close, and I know they took good care of “Daddy”. This is a sweet bunch of folks who even this weekend, went out of their way to love on me and encourage me. Even though one told me that he would “only say it once”, I won’t ever forget what he took the time to say to me. From where I stood, I heard many life giving words spoken to needy and eager ears of the younger generation. I think it is part of who this family is, therefore, we all are benefitting and learning from it.

To see these brothers and sisters together enjoying one another makes me wonder about their “Momma”-- her parenting, her prayers and her purpose of writing those priceless words. For someone who has trouble keeping things short, I appreciate the length of her “last letter” of sorts. At that point in her life, she knew what mattered. They listened, took it to heart and followed through. Because of Mrs. Speir’s desire, Julia and Brighton know most of their aunts, uncles, first, second and third cousins by name. MOST. There are a lot of them. They get the experience of being loved by a large family, seeing a family that is committed to each other but much bigger than that, witnessing brothers and sisters honoring a generation before who is waiting ever so patiently to have her “circle” unbroken again.

(The picture at the top is Mrs. Speir holding Betty (Jeff's Mom) and her brother, Lavonne at Jacksonville Beach in Florida.)

Do you really want me to explain this?

Maybe I should-- egg on head, held by a pantyhose cap. Object: to smash the egg of your opponents with rolled up newspaper.

Caroline and Julia celebrating their victory in the egg toss. A miracle.... truly. Technique? Think bowling with an egg

Spouses are in this picture-- minus one who couldn't come!
(Aunt Rachel, Barrett (Jeff's Dad), Aunt Phyllis)

Enthusiasm for the sponge relay--Lisa, were you a cheerleader in high school?

Surprised, anyone?

Jeff "schoolin' " his 11 year old cousin, Nick.

The proud winners of the egg/spoon relay - Maria and Millie (It took a soon to be Auburn graduate and a 16 year old pilot to do it, though!)

Last and truly "least", the newest member of the Speir/Webb clan. "Tucker" Congratulations, Tyler and Kimberly!

(Just want all of you Speirs to make a mental note that I did NOT misspell your name once! Proud?)


Alyssa said...

I wouldn't miss that reunion either!! What a great example of family togetherness. Thanks for sharing the pictures!

Sarah said...

Sweet Memories. Some of that sweet tea sounds really good right now. They just don't make it right here in Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Krista! I have tears and I was there! Haha. This is a beautiful entry & remembrance and we truly are blessed aren't we. Even with all the preparations and driving and choas we always have a blast and genuinely enjoy and treasure each other's company. I wonder how many families get to do that in this generation? I LOVE the pictures, trust me winning the egg race is one of my greatest accomplishments- it takes strong teeth! Haha. War Eagle.
LOve Maria :)
(we're especially glad that our Texian family got to come play for a couple days!)

Anonymous said...

Krista, this is tremndous. So well written and will be a part of the "History" of this family. It brings tears to my eyes. Thanks. Doodle

nikki said...

i want to come to the next one.