Monday, June 17, 2013

Missing my people.

I was the only girl cousin on the Mason side that lived in Mississippi. Aunt Mary and Uncle George (My Dad's younger siblings) both had boys. And I loved those boys -- still do -- and had fun running, jumping, climbing and trying to keep up, but man, did I love when Uncle Mel and Aunt Nina (my Dad's older siblings) brought their girls to visit!

Aunt Nina and her husband, my Uncle Wayne, are missionaries in Mexico -- where they have served for 40 years. Growing up, I only got to see them annually when they made their summer visit driving an RV so that they could tour the southeast speaking to their supporting churches. I thought they had the most amazing life. I loved their stories of how God met their needs -- physically, spiritually, emotionally. I loved hearing them speak Spanish. I loved the way my Dad loved his oldest sister and was so glad to see her.

But mainly. Mainly, I loved Susie and Rose Anna.

Me, Susie and Rose Anna.

I would watch for them to turn the corner every single summer. When they arrived I plastered myself right next to them and didn't leave their side. (I am sure I should apologize to Aunt Mary and Aunt Kathy for adding one more person to the table while Aunt Nina was visiting because I invited myself every where they went. I didn't want to miss ONE MINUTE!)

When I was old enough, I just jumped in the RV when they left my house and stayed with them while they toured the Southeast. They would drop me off on their way back to Mexico -- or one summer, I just went all the way home with them! (One of the best summers of my life!)

Then we grew up, got married and moved to different corners of the country. I have not been where all my Mason cousins, aunts and uncles were gathered since the Christmas I was expecting the triplets. That was almost 17 years ago.

I have had small greetings here and there -- Aunt Mary and Uncle George find a way to see me and mine when we are in Tupelo. My Claire is super close with Aunt Mary's grands -- yep, one of my boy cousins (Kevin) had some girls for my girl! (So thankful for that) And they Facetime and talk and stay connected as if they have grown up next door to each other!

Claire with Hannah and Laura Kate -- my cousin Kevin's kids years ago! They are the best of friends.

Last year, my family traveled to Texas and were able to visit with Rose Anna and her beautiful family. 

Cousins -- Rose Anna and her crew with me and mine!

And this spring, Susie and her husband, Doug, chaperoned a trip of teens to Arizona and my kids and I were able to steal a few hours with them. It took every thing I had not to jump in that van and stay where she was for a few days.

Susie and I with my crew.

But this week in Mississippi, all the Masons are gathered to celebrate Aunt Nina and Uncle Wayne's 50th Anniversary. I wanted to be there. I had plans to go. But alas, when we realized Benjamin needed spinal surgery this summer, we knew the recovery would not be far enough along for us to travel. I cried -- more than once.

Today, I am trying to pack the tears away. They are just out of control. So instead, I am thanking God for the marriage of Aunt Nina and Uncle Wayne. I am thanking Him for the faith they exhibited to me my entire childhood and for the example they set for their children and  me.

I am thanking God for the laughter that I know is shaking the cabin walls in North Mississippi this week as Uncle Mel and his family, Aunt Nina and her's, Aunt Mary and her's and Uncle George and his gather and tell stories and laugh and laugh. (Cause we Masons know how to laugh and laugh.)

I am thanking God for my Daddy, the son smack dab in the middle of that delightful family.  For the stories he told me growing up of the love of his siblings and of my Grandmother Susie. I am smiling as I remember the story of Aunt Nina having her Susie on my Dad's birthday and his insistence that the baby be named after him -- oh how he loved his little namesake (Teresa Susie!).

I am thanking God for those precious boy cousins too -- remembering Paul taking me fishing and telling me I talked too much (imagine!).  And how the day Len and I were moving dirt to clean up my Dad's grave (it's a country cemetery, what can I say?), Paul drove by, saw us and went home to get a shovel to help.

I am smiling remembering how Kevin had to "rescue" Paul and I when we got stuck in a culvert and were too short to climb back out...he ran to get the dads who came bearing ropes and wisdom to retrieve us. I am thanking God for the enduring love Kevin shows my family by dropping life to come and love on us when we are visiting Tupelo.

I could tell stories of Bartley and Bridget, of Bonita and Belinda and go on and on and on. I love my Mason cousins. I am so grateful to be part of that family. And I wish I were gathered with them today, hugging, loving and laughing.

Family is a blessing. And I am praying for another gathering in the not-too-distant future where I can come and my children can feel the love of the Mason clan up close and personal.

Now that makes me smile just thinking about it!