Monday, June 18, 2012

The Missing Generation

First let’s talk about Nametags.  I’m not sure how many families need nametags at reunions, but we are a disparate group, scattered from California to Colorado to Texas to Illinois. And we are large. My Dad was the oldest of eight. And each of those eight had between seven (us) and three children… making a total of…
....  a bunch!

So, at the Hennesy family reunions, we need nametags. But not just nametags, numbertags! Some genius in our family (and we are ALL in that category) came up with a system for identification that designates each relative with a number.  My Dad, being the eldest child of Esther and Willard Hennesy’s eight offspring was…“1”  His eldest child, my brother Steve, is 1.1.  And so on… I am 1.7. – seventh and most handsome son of the Dean the “first.” Carson, my grandson, is, being my second born’s second born – each more handsome than the previous.

 Terry Hennesy 1.7                                                           Carson Hennesy

Last weekend the Hennesy family reunion was held, as always, at my sisters ‘chicken farm’ near Ames, Iowa. We usually gather only once every three years, but after my Dad Dean’s death in 2010, some OTHER genius decided it needs to be more often. I’m not sure why.  All remaning six of the “orginal eight” were there (see pic: gathered at the table).

Twenty of the next digits were there. (see pic: lined up in color coded family shirts, yet another brilliant idea)-- those are me, my brothers and sister and our cousins. I think there were originally 35 of us.  

 It’s the next digits that went missing.  My children. My siblings’ children  and their generation. (other than my sister’s seven children who helped host the event). I need to emphasize that this is not a chastisement. I just noticed that there few of them were there.  I don’t blame them at all. They are at the busiest time of their lives, working stressful jobs and raising young families. And there isn’t really much to actually DO at these Hennesy gatherings! We eat, we sit, we talk.  But I don’t think those are the real reasons they go missing from these events.  I think it’s because we did not gather them together enough when they were young. My brothers and sister and I did.  We have loads of pictures of smiling, sweaty, goofy little kids lined up on the couch to prove it. But not with their second cousins. Not with the extended family.  We lost track of each other for the usual reasons. Time and distance.... plus there were just so many of us.  Where could we all fit? Certainly not on one couch!

The fourth-digit generation (those born in the 21st century) was there because we BROUGHT THEM.  We took them off their parents hands for a weekend and enticed them with swimming pools and with farm chickens (that’s another story).

And perhaps if we keep dragging them along with us, even long after the years when chickens and pools are tempting forms of entertainment, they will then have the desire and motivation to be together. To keep telling their cousins stories. To stay connected.  We may not have much in common, other than a name (with ONE " S" and that is a whole OTHER story), but that might be just enough.

 Or maybe Facebook has replaced family reunions all together.

We shall see.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts.

    As people began showing up on Saturday, I was really glad that you did bring the "fourth digits," not only because they are pretty cute running around in their not-so-little T-shirts, or because they bring a sense of future to a gathering which (rightly) focuses so strongly on the past, but also because it was a good opportunity. They got to play with their second cousins. As you said, it's a good chance for them to form connections. It also allowed me to enjoy something I don't get to do very often—"snake hunting" with four-year-olds. And I imagine their parents got to enjoy something they probably don't get very often—a little time away from the kids. So it worked out all around.