By Jennifer Sanchez
I found myself yearning to spend a few days in Nebraska this summer. Last summer at a family reunion I got to know some cousins that I barely knew growing up because of our age difference. I was missing them! I asked Beckie in May if she would have a desire to travel there with me over the Labor Day weekend and she was game. Coincidentally, that was also the weekend of her 50th year high school class reunion.
Our road trip that Friday was fun and we enjoyed driving past field upon field of corn. We both found those rolling fields beautiful and wondered why we didn’t see that beauty when we were growing up.
Friday evening the first reunion event was held at the Columbus horse race track. Memories flooded. Dad took us there most every year to watch a few races and always let us pick a horse to win.
Beckie had never attended a class reunion and it was fun watching the reactions of her classmates when they would spot her and begin to catch up. I’m younger than Beckie but was familiar with many of their names and enjoyed visiting with them too.
Saturday morning we took off with two cousins for Cedar Rapids, a small town approximately 40 miles from Columbus, where our mom spent her formative years. Our goal was to get some family history and childhood stories from our oldest living cousin. Mary is one of the people our Mom loved most in this world. We asked questions and Mary told stories in a very Micek fashion. Which means we laughed the entire time we were visiting with her.
Saturday afternoon we were back at reunion activities. We met at Scotus Catholic High school for a tour of the building and then attended mass in the school chapel. This was my favorite activity of the weekend . I hadn’t been in that building since I completed my freshman year of high school. I left a piece of my heart there when we moved to Leadville the summer of 1973.
Saturday evening we met several cousins for dinner and talked non-stop trying to piece together family history. Several of us discovered at the reunion that we share an interest in researching Micek family history and background. We had fun sharing individual experiences with our aunts and uncles. Moms family was large. We had 11 aunts and uncles who lived to adulthood from her side. At dinner we ranged in age from 59 to 72, so we brought different perspectives and memories. Again we laughed a lot and several conversations clarified some questions and mysteries. However, more mysteries were revealed.
Sunday morning we met one of our cousins visiting from Minnesota at the cemetery. We talked as we walked and pieced together more info, as looking at dates of births and passings can reveal answers just by the timeline. This cousin had moved to Minnesota when she and Beckie had completed first grade. That one-on-one time with Rhonda gave us such an understanding of her family whom we didn’t know well. Her father was the next one in birth order to our mom, who was the youngest. We shared many stories with her in regard to growing up amidst her very large family.
Sunday early afternoon Beckie and I attended the final event of the reunion weekend, a picnic at a park. Final reminiscing stories from high school and growing up in Columbus. Old friends made plans and commitments to stay in touch.
As I quickly approach turning 60 years old, I enjoy more than ever recalling and experiencing memories from childhood. I am interested to understand the generations of my family that came before me. That weekend spending time with family, watching Beckie catch up with old friends, and gathering more knowledge about the family from which my mom came was good for my soul.