|Aunt Carol Ann and Uncle H.D. on one of their missions.|
The Summer when I was 13 years old my family moved from our home in Kentucky to my Uncle's house in Missouri while my Dad looked for a new job. My Uncle has 10 children, and my parents have 5. Big cousin party -- all summer! It wasn't a huge house, but not too small either and we all squished in somewhere. I got to sleep on the floor by Julie's bed. She was my best friend cousin.
Being a clueless child, I never thought about how hard this "party" was for the parents of both families. I just enjoyed it. My Uncle was a Doctor, and he sometimes worked all night. He would come home in the morning, hug us all good morning, and head up to bed. I do not know how he slept. We weren't particularly quiet. My youngest cousin in that family was still very little, and I remember my Aunt rocking her to sleep. I also remember my Aunt singing in the mornings, as if she had had enough sleep, and was thrilled to spend another day with lots of kids running around the house!
They had a piano and an organ and often both were played at once. This wasn't necessarily beautiful playing, just "fun" playing where we made up our own songs. There were large family scripture studies, and I think some Family Home Evenings, though my memory is a little vague on that. I do remember us all gathered together to hear my Uncle telling us a tall tale where he was hunting, and the deer ended up pedaling the bicycle down the mountain. He liked telling stories. We did a lot of things including playing games, and doing activities created from our imaginations. I do not remember being bored -- ever.
There were delicious Saturday morning pancakes, and evening ice cream parties. There were meals of bottled fruit and crackers and milk. I actually don't remember the other food, but I'm sure we ate plenty! I had so much fun that summer!
By the end of the summer my Dad had a job and we had our own house, but we lived close to my Uncle H.D. and his family for three years, and they were very good years for me. What a difference good friends can make. My cousins were my friends. I always knew that my Uncle and Aunt loved me too, and they liked me being around, and that meant a lot to me. They even took me on vacation with them once!
We moved again when I was 16, and I really didn't see my Uncle and Aunt a lot after that. Still, we occasionally had a reunion, and they took the time to come to the airport once when Derek and I had a layover in Saint Louis. I felt very loved.
I was very sad when my Uncle got sick, but I loved to see how well my Aunt and cousins took care of him and loved him. So many plane trips, and time off work, and doing hard things. So much love shown every day. I was far away, and I was so thankful that they managed to take care of him as if they lived next door, and not in different states, or different towns. My Uncle loved his family, including me. I love his family too, including him!