Family Ties


Last week was all about some of the things I love, including my writing work, travel and my family.

I took a road trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a travel writer’s conference. I made it a 2-day drive each way so I wasn’t rushing and trying to cram 11-12 hours of driving into each day.

This gave me a chance to stop through Kansas City. On the first day of my trip, I had dinner in Kansas City with  my youngest nephew, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Belle.

Although we keep up with each other on Facebook, I hadn’t seen them since my mother’s/his grandmother’s funeral 5 ½ years ago. As children, I felt close to my nephews, the older ones were only 5 years younger, and Shawn was only 10 years younger. Shawn and Keith had also come with their mother to live with my mom and me after my dad died, so I felt a special kinship with them.

My 30 year class reunion was the weekend prior and although I didn’t attend, I kept up with the planning of the event. There’s nothing to make you realize that we may not have another day to spend with friends and family than to see a list of 15 of your classmates names who have already passed away.

I realized I hadn’t been good at keeping in touch, in knowing my nephews for the men they had become.

My youngest nephew is a very successful assistant district attorney and his girlfriend works in finance. They have a house and a dog and we talked about it all in that brief time we had together. He looks well and I’m glad he seems happy. It was a good visit.

As I drove north the following day, I remembered my first trip to Sioux Falls, with my parents, Dale and my exchange sister Angela, who we hosted for a year during my sophomore year in high school.

We were going to visit my sister, Shawn and his brother, my oldest nephew, Keith, for Easter. I still have a Polaroid photo I took of them holding the Easter baskets my parents brought up for them.

I also thought of the trip through South Dakota my mother and I took with our two exchange daughters, Steffi and Meg-Ann, nearly 20 years ago to the day. It was Meg’s year with us, but Steffi had come back for a visit. Dale decided to work through his vacation that year and so Mom went with me to show the girls Indian country, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore.

We headed for Sioux Falls first, though, going once again to see Keith and meet his new baby daughter, Taryn, my great niece.

I was flooded with nostalgia driving up through Missouri, Iowa and into Sioux Falls, listening to Classic Rock on 92.9 The Eagle out of Lincoln, Nebraska almost the entire trip once I ran out of Kansas City station range.

Songs from the 70s and 80s took me back to that first trip to Sioux Falls, as a young teen ready for a new adventure. Later music, especially Def Leppard, which was a favorite of mine that I turned Meg-Ann onto, reminded me of that Girls Trip with my mom and my daughters.

All good memories.

When I met up with my oldest nephew Keith this time (who I also hadn’t seen since Mom’s funeral), he showed off his home and I met his 4-year-old son and his 1-year-old granddaughter, Taryn’s first baby and my great, great niece. I got to see his wife, Ida, Taryn and his oldest son, Jalen again (quite the serious ball player. I will even become an MLB fan again if he makes it!)

My drive home to Our Little House was filled with new memories made with Keith and Shawn and their families. It’s nice to look back, to remember the good times, but it’s also nice to renew old relationships with those we love and to look forward.

That’s what makes life worth living and helps us live it large.

Have you reconnected with family you haven’t seen in awhile? How did it go?  

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24 Responses

  1. This is great. I actually just had a visit from my favorite cousin. While we’ve stayed in touch, it’s been decades since our summertime weeklong hangouts. We always manage to squeeze in a few hours when I’m home for a visit, but to have her here for a week of giggling and catching up was a real treat!

  2. Over the Labor Day Weekend, I celebrated with my entire family my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was great to reconnect with everyone. Of course, we had a slide show one night that’s was just priceless.

  3. Jane Boursaw says:

    Both my husband’s and my family live within a 10-mile radius, and it’s amazing how much we *don’t see each other through the year. We do at holidays, but I’d love to make time for more things in between.

    • Kerri says:

      It was the same way when my family all lived in the same city, Jane. We all have busy lives, for sure. The important part is your recognition of it.

  4. mat says:

    Posting on mobile, so bear with me. We’re up in Salem, Mass on our 10th anniversary vacation, which we also used to reconnect with my cousins for a few days. I think the last time we saw them was at our wedding. I forgot how much fun family can be…I miss them already again.

    • Kerri says:

      Happy Belated Anniversary, Mat! Ten years is a milestone to celebrate! We did ours in Orlando (I was into the whole going to Disneyworld thing!) 🙂 I hope you two had a great time. It is fun reconnecting with family. I just talked to my nephew on the phone again last night. I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing his voice on occasion.

  5. Alisa Bowman says:

    I try to see certain family members who live far away at least once a year. The closer ones more often. For me what’s most important is that I am present when I am present. In other words that I make the most of every moment I spend with them, even if those moments are rare and precious.

  6. Heather L. says:

    Family is so important. Thank you for the reminder to reconnect with those you don’t see that often.

  7. Irene says:

    Thanks for the reminder! Sounds like a wonderful road trip at summer’s end~

  8. merr says:

    The relationships make everything – period!

  9. Donna Hull says:

    There’s something about a road trip isn’t there? Maybe it’s all that time to think and remember. I’m glad you had the opportunity to visit with family as well.

  10. It is nice to reconnect with family. My aunt and I are in a similar situation – she was the youngest child in her family by 10 years so she was a teenager when my cousins and I were kids, so I have a close bond with her. I recently reconnected with her and it meant so much to me and made me feel closer to my grandmother (her mom), who has been gone about 8 years.

    • Kerri says:

      I was closest to my mother in my family, Brette, so I hope my nephews and great nieces/nephews feel that same connection as you. I learned while I was there that my oldest great niece in Sioux Falls has an interest in family history, so I cannot wait to get started on a personal history project and give it to her. I think she will have a great appreciation of it.

  11. Sheryl says:

    I so agree with you. It feels so good to reconnect. I recently had my 40th high school reunion and I’m giddy over the fact that I saw – and am now keeping in touch with – so many old friends.

    • Kerri says:

      I wish I could have worked in the reunion too, Sheryl. But thank goodness for Facebook, where I’ve already reconnected with so many old pals. The nice surprise is that I’ve also connected with people I didn’t in school. 🙂

  12. Kerri says:

    Carol, I do not have any contact with family except for cousins, an aunt and my nephews and their families. However, I will ask about others well being. Sometimes it is just better that way. I’m glad you were able to reconnect with your sister, though, and establish a comfortable level of communication.

  13. Carol says:

    I had not heard from my sister for 18 years when she contacted me earlier this year. She came down from WA to visit and we had a lovely BBQ with some of the family. It went very well. We now keep in touch by email and occasional phone call. It’s nice to know that she’s okay. It was always a nagging feeling not knowing where she was and how she was doing.