Off to South Dakota

We’re headed to South Dakota this weekend. Some of you who have looked at the schedule know that I’ll be doing an event in Rapid City on Sunday afternoon, but the first part of the weekend will be devoted to an Anderson Family Reunion in the Black Hills. The last family reunion I attended was in 1984. This was long before I met Bill. My sister and I drove there with my two kids in the back seat of my 1978 Cutlass Supreme Brougham which, unfortunately, came to grief in Yellowstone Park when the automatic transmission died. I suspect it was a somewhat delayed after effect of my move from Arizona to Seattle, dragging that loaded U-Haul behind the car.

We stalled out somewhere inside the park. Our last view of bison was from the front of a tow truck. We spent the next three days stuck in West Yellowstone where, if you’ll pardon my saying so, there wasn’t much happening, but that’s how long it took to get parts. Once the car was repaired, we went on to the reunion which, as it happens, was also held in the Black Hills.

At that event all of my mother’s sisters and her brother were still alive. The uncles sat on the porch in a row of rocking chairs, communing with one another. My favorite photo from that event is one I took of all the photographers lined up to take a picture of our part of the family.
A lot of the people who attended that reunion aren’t around anymore. My parents, of course, are both gone as are my mother’s brother, Glenn, and her other sisters–Alice, Edith, and Toots. Their spouses have all passed away as well.

This spring, the last of my mother’s sisters, my Aunt Kelly, turned 100. She’s the official guest of honor, but this year I expect to be one of the generation laying claim to those front porch rocking chairs. At the 1984 reunion, I was still considered one of “the kids.” This time I’m not.

The last time my mother attended a family reunion, she went all-out-Evie when someone had the unmitigated nerve to suggest that when it came time to serve the “hot dishes” the children should go first. Evie simply put her size eight foot down. “No way José! When I was little,” she told them, “I had to wait in line until all the grownups were served. Now that I’m 80, I’m going first, and the kids can come after me.” Which is exactly what happened.

This time around when it comes time for the potluck, we’ll let Aunt Kelly go first with my sister’s and my generation right behind her, but I’m guessing we’ll both be missing our mother right about then.

Yes, Evelyn Allegra Anderson Busk, we still miss you.

Every single day.

10 thoughts on “Off to South Dakota

  1. You will never not miss your Mom. I hope my daughter misses me as much as I miss my Mom and Mother-in-Law. We’re they perfect? No but then we were not either. What they were was FULL of Love for me and my siblings. Sunday dinners, Christmas and just everyday visits We’re made so special. I wish I was wiser in my younger years to appreciate them both more than I did. But I have found that kind of knowledge cames with age.
    Have a wonderful trip, travel safe enjoy being first at the table…Jan

  2. I too am from the Black Hills. Custer to be exact. The last I saw my Aunts and Uncles on my Mom’s side was in the 1990’s. They are all gone now, but I sure did enjoy my visit! I left there in 1941 with my family, headed for Bremerton, WA where I finished growing up.
    My oldest sister homesteaded near Fairbanks, AK in the 50’s. Interesting similarities in our lives. I do love your books and blog.

  3. I do not miss my mother; I’m glad that your relationship with yours was good and that you do miss her. Family reunions are sometimes fraught — we’ve never done much in that area for either my mother’s or father’s lineage, and they were such interesting people! from what little I’ve gleaned. Safe journeys, pleasant encounters, and mechanical reliability to you…

  4. Nice that you can go to the reunion this year. My mother has also been on my mind this week. It would have been her 97th birthday last Wednesday. She passed in 2006. My friend, Ruth and I have a tradition about my mother. On her birthday, and sometimes on Mother’s Day, we go and have a tea party at her grave. We take our little stools and small table and set up a pot of orange pekoe tea (her favorite) with scones or cookies. We sit and talk about our memories of my mother and how she made many things possible for me. I always thank her for being a strong role model, and teaching me that creative thinking is a good thing, even though we didn’t always get along very well. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Joanna Brady books was her relationship with her mother. I think that mothers with strong personalities tend to bring out both the good and the bad emotions in us.
    Thank you for your wonderful blogs.

  5. Nice that you can go to the reunion this year. My mother has also been on my mind this week. It would have been her 97th birthday last Wednesday. She passed in 2006. My friend, Ruth and I have a tradition about my mother. On her birthday, and sometimes on Mother’s Day, we go and have a tea party at her grave. We take our little stools and small table and set up a pot of orange pekoe tea (her favorite) with scones or cookies. We sit and talk about our memories of my mother and how she made many things possible for me. I always thank her for being a strong role model, and teaching me that creative thinking is a good thing, even though we didn’t always get along very well. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Joanna Brady books was her relationship with her mother. I think that mothers with strong personalities tend to bring out both the good and the bad emotions in us.
    Thank you for your wonderful blogs.

  6. Have a wonderful time. My mother was 40 when I was born, but I was lucky to keep her for 50 years! So many little things bring back memories. She has been gone for 26 years and my daughter and I often have Grandma moments! She sold the family home at 80 and for the previous 10 years and the rest of her life, she was on the go. We often remark on her strength, her cooking, and her revival in her retirement years. I do remember Mama and wonder how she did it all. 6 kids before vaccinations, Great Depression, WWII. Now we feed the kids first to get them “settled” so we can enjoy our meal. I hope the Black Hills are as lovely as I remember them.

  7. Good for Evie! When the kids started going first is when they started feeling entitled! Have a great reunion being one of the senior generation. It’s a weird feeling but it’s fun too!

  8. Have a great time. Our “family reunions” was mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas at my Grandma’s house. She left us 15 years ago, as did the annual gathering of her siblings. Sad to think of sometimes.

  9. My Iowa family had an Anderson reunion, too. I don’t think we are related to any Andersons in South Dakoa. It continues on Labor Day weekend with the grandchildren.

    We always got a kick out of our Aunt Mabel. She put the food she brought in a special spot and didn’t want to share it with the others. She wouldn’t eat anything anyone fixed either. She didn’t know we all laughed at her for being so picky.

    Reunions are nice, but in my case since my Mom died in 1995, I haven’t gone back to Iowa. It just isn’t the same without her.

    • Carolyn Ann, our Anderson family, of which JAJance is a part, is not related to any other Andersons, other than one of our parents’ cousins who married an Anderson. Judy’s grandpa and mine, who was known in our small town as AG Anderson, was the only member of his family to emigrate to the United States from Sweden, and my dad was his only son. There were several other Anderson families in our neighborhood, but we were not related to any of them.
      It sounds like you have some wonderful memories of those family reunions! I wonder if every family has an Aunt Mabel somewhere in the mix….

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