This past month has marked experiences oh so valuable to my favorite pastime . . . making family memories!! You just can’t beat it.
Mom reached the 80-year milestone this year and all 18 (+2) of our Johnson clan celebrated on a beach trip to Turks and Caicos. It’s a fantastic island in the Caribbean with clear blue water setting a prefect scene. The +2 involves our twin grandbabies in the making which we anticipate meeting in three months.
Four generations from age 5 to 80 with varied personalities and interests had the trip of a lifetime that will go down in the record book as remarkable! From Sesame Street characters to entertain the younguns’ to opportunities to scuba dive, snorkel, surf sail, ride large sand toys, play chess with giant chess pieces, witness gorgeous sunsets, splash in water parks, relax or swim at various pools with swim-up refreshment bars, float around the man made powered river, watch people, hit the casino, take a nap, shop, enjoy an assortment of delightful food and libation choices with ocean sounds and views nearby was really beyond fully describing.
The night all of us were entertained by chefs as they chopped, cooked, sang and laughed while preparing our multiple courses of Japanese cuisine stands out for me. Although the food was tasty, it was more about the connecting as we all relaxed and enjoyed the time together.
We then made our way to a sought-out gazebo right by the ocean just as the sun set, creating an ecstatic scene of nature only God could conjure up. Card games and acting out word challenges brought competitors to their toes, followed then by reminiscing.
Ah yes. Reviewing funny and heartwarming memories from special family times in the past while we made new memories was a joy. And we remembered the one person who helped Mom create this bunch . . . .my amazing Dad, also a spunky loved Granddad!
Even the unexpected airport slumber party for 11 of us didn’t mar the mood. Chalk it up to another experience. What more could we ask for than to even have the youngest generation laughing and coping on a trek to baggage claim at 2 a.m.
I found it heartwarming that despite leaving what seemed like paradise, it truly was refreshing to reach Home Sweet Home.
The excitement didn’t stop there as we had another celebration this month. What fun to rejoice at the gender reveal of the anticipated twins. It’s a boy and a girl. How special to add one of each to our current one-boy and two-girl cherished grandchild treasures. It’s especially great to see the beaming glow of the expectant parents.
The past weekend found me joining my mom and brother for yet another family experience at a reunion. Standing at the altar of a small beautiful character-filled church found me stepping back more than 94 years to envision my grandparents saying “I do” in that setting.
The cemetery nearby marked graves of my great great grandmother who came to Nebraska from Denmark as well as other family members. I recollected a previous visit when we were welcomed into the home on the church grounds that once belonged to family.
My second cousin shared her father’s story when they watched the funeral procession to the cemetery through the large picture window. They had to stay home while in quarantine from the flu epidemic which took the lives of two young mothers who were both pregnant. Those cousins of my mother grew up without their moms and their siblings who never took a breath.
It doesn’t have to be an extravagant ocean trip to make cherished memories. I just made plans to go pick up our granddaughters tonight for a spur-of-the moment overnight stay and I’m pumped. We’ll go pick up their brother from church camp tomorrow. He had alternative ways to get home but if we actually see where he spent his week and meet his new friends, we’ll relate better to his stories. And we’ll all make memories together.
What a precious gift . . . quality time together.
LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: