The fifth and final piece of the family puzzle

Scott does exist.

The middle child walked into the Mexican restaurant in the tiny town standing guard to the gorgeous and mammoth Rocky mountains of Colorado as darkness fell Sunday night and the Miner Family Reunion became complete at last for my dear wife Karen.

Table for 15, please.

Table for 15, please.

She sat at one end of the table of 15 chattering people on this Sunday night in Estes Park and her brother sat at the other, with eldest brother Steve and No. 2 Jana and youngest sister Lynne and their kids mixed about with my Elisabeth and her guy George Three.

Scott was the last of the five to arrive from all different states for this meet-in-the-middle affair, pulling in late Saturday afternoon from California. Because he’d chosen to skip our tour excursion of 10 up a mountain that night and we’d absconded with two cousins in the biggest SUV all day to Denver for visits to the zoo and Rockies (reports to come at a later date) this our first chance to meet. In fact, as Thursday turned to Friday andd then Saturday, I’d hung the brother-in-law I’ve never met with the name The Myterious Scott. Does he exist, I’d ask the cousins?

Steve, Jana, Scott, Karen and Lynne.

Steve, Jana, Scott, Karen and Lynne.

I shook the man’s hand and looked into his eyes, the final piece of my wife’s tribe, the guy my age, in fact. Yeah, Scott existed.

Beth and John.

Beth and Joe watch the photo-taking.

Delicious food and big drinks in wide glasses filled bellies and the two generations were requested to line up in front of the bar for photo opportunities before we departed.

Dacia, Drew, Ross, Stormy, George, Elisabeth and Kimi.

Dacia, Drew, Ross, Stormy, George, Elisabeth and Kimi.

The night certainly was not finished, so we invited all back to our cottage.

There the cousins took to the couch and chairs to play synched games they downloaded to their phones.

Click either photo for a description. Click the right photo for an enlarged slide show.

The Miner siblings and I sat around the table for lively talk about life, then and now. I tried to mostly listen to hear about what it was like for them then, filling in pieces from stories I’ve heard from the approaching dozen years I’ve been with their sister Karen.

The similiarities with my family have always struck me. Their parents Bob and Caroline divorced like my Frank and Dolores. They had to eat all their food or were not allowed to leave the table. Sounds familiar. Karen says she can’t drink milk now because of it. For me, it’s mushrooms. Jana says it’s peas, but she loves lima beans. Oh, not me.

Steve, the oldest, says his version of the family always had to eat Roman Meal bread. They laughed. Lynne, the youngest, said that by the time dad and his likes were gone, mom made what she liked and Wonder Bread was on the table.

Two families. There’s 10 years difference between them, just like me and my youngest sister Dory. Two families, indeed, as I thought about how things were different for her and Frannie after I went away to college.

Steve talked about his job as a county tax assessor in Oregon and Scott about working with the Army Corps of Engineers, and then I asked them all about their favorite place they had ever lived. They joked about how I was interviewing them, and I promised that their answers were not for this blog.

Kitchen gathering.

Kitchen gathering.

So be it. Oh, this was quite a day.

At one point, Stormy called over from the couch, “1986! You guys have not all been together since 1986! That’s too long! The adults agreed, but talked of how life can always get in the way.

Jana quickly started discussion about where the next reunion should take place. In two years. Hawaii, perhaps? We all shall see.

Today, Lynne and her two, Stormy and Kimi, depart for Texas and Arkansas, and Jana and her pair, Dacia and Drew, begin the trek back to Alaska. Steve and Ross, and Scott and we four stay to Tuesday.

Which family member of yours have you not seen for the longest, and why? How did you feel when you saw a family member you’ve not seen for a long time? Did your parents make you eat all your food before you left the table, and what do you not like now because of it?

43 thoughts on “The fifth and final piece of the family puzzle

  1. Is there a parent in this world from that era who did NOT make the kids stay until all the food was eaten? I still abhor yellow summer squash. UNLESS it is made into a relish. My Mom found a recipe for squash relish many years ago and had me taste it. Instant love bro. Mark, instant love. We canned it together for a couple of years, then when she wasn’t able to stand and stir any more, I canned it alone. I still have a few jars from that last time, hoarding them like they were made of gold, because I’m not sure I can make it again.
    I insisted my kids at least taste the food before they said they didn’t like it, but never forced them to sit in front of a plate of congealed stuff when they were obviously getting sick just looking at it. If they tasted it and didn’t like it, okay. Most of the time they tasted it and decided it tasted better than they thought it would, and went for seconds, so it all worked out.


      • I’ve tried it in every way it can be used bro Mark, and the one and only way is my jarred gold. I might have to make another batch this summer just to commemorate my Mom, since she found the only recipe in the world that got me to eat yellow squash. Love zucchini, but the yellow stuff just sits there and stares at you with no redeeming value, until you put it in the relish. Then you have something to brag about.


  2. I love this post, Mark. Thanks for allowing us to complete the reunion. My mother used to insist that we eat two pieces of tomato cut up in a green salad. I didn’t like tomato, so I let my father absent-mindedly eat mine. To this day, I am ambivalent about tomato in salads.


  3. That’s so cool about the similarities! I love how you get right in there and get the scoop on people and make them love you even more while you do it. I wish I had that talent. You’re my hero, Mark! ❀


  4. You have started a very important tradition, family’s must maintain ties, there is history in all the members at your reunion Mark, and it’s imperative the family ties are strengthened.
    Great pics of a very loving family get together.


  5. Looks like a fun time – although I would probably been on social overload and have to go sit by myself by the creek for a little while. My parents grew up in England during World War II so we wasted nothing at our house. Most dreaded meals were liver and onions (no amount of ketchup could improve that dish), beef tongue (especially after I had seen the tongue in a Styrofoam platter covered in plastic sitting in the fridge (so disgusting), scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast (we can thank their time in Australia for that lovely addition to our menus), lentil soup (so thick, a spoon could stand up in it). We weren’t allowed to drink water at the table (some weird English thing), so trying to force the lentil soup down was like eating sand in a desert. I vowed when I grew up and had kids of my own, I would never, ever force them to eat anything they didn’t want to eat and that is what I have done.


  6. i love the idea of families reuniting and learning things and filling in the blanks. finding the similarities and differences and embracing them all, finding out more about ourselves in the process. this looks like a wonderful trip that did all that and more.


  7. Life does indeed get in the way … It’s great that Karen and Co. pulled this off, and that you were able to take part. Safe trip home!


    • Yes, Jim. I know you and the boys are far-flung, and work hard at keeping it strong. Great example, my friend. We leave for the big trek back via Atlanta, I must pack, but I want to get through my friends’ comments because they’ve been on the trip with me here. πŸ™‚


  8. In that last picture with Karen and the man right across from her – that’s her brother right? They ever look alike! So glad you are all enjoying each others company and I really want to know all their favourite places they’ve ever lived on your blog, Mark!

    I haven’t seen most of my German relatives since 1980 – egads! ❀
    Diana xo


    • Yes, these five are the brothers and sisters, Diana. ❀

      And I promised them I wouldn't put their answers to that question on my blog, and as a family member and journalist I can't break that one, you know? πŸ˜‰

      Egads is right on the 1980 gap in your German relatives visit. But that trip is really, really far from Calgary, my dear friend.


  9. ha ha πŸ™‚ all that and I still don’t know where Steve and Scott’s favourite place to live was!
    My cousin πŸ™‚ hadn’t seen him in years… we met up again at my sister’s wedding πŸ™‚
    he stored all my stuff in his garage when I needed πŸ™‚
    mushrooms… but i got over it!
    Nx xxx


  10. My husband has been to more of my family functions than a couple of my siblings! (Put together!)

    Cooked carrots. Cubed cooked carrots. The bane of my childhood. And liver. Yes. We had to eat it all….


  11. Yes, we had to eat all our food. I did not like peas, but now I do. Once when I was ten we visited friends at the sea and was given cray fish and I simply refused to eat it. Luckily for me my father passed on the crayfish too so I was handed a get out of jail free card. And I still don’t touch seafood today.
    Glad you met your Bil. My husband’s family had a reunion in 2003 that we travelled to, it was wonderful. Half his family is Jewish from his great grandfather who was Jewish, but his wife ran off with the lodger after having children, and he then married a South African Christian lady who became my husband’s great grandmother and so there are two Christian / Jewish lines. We went past his grave in the Jewish half of the cemetery.


  12. The picture around the kitchen table is precious..they look so natural there. It makes sense, large families gather in the kitchen, it’s always been the focal point. It is so very special to get together for a happy occasion,one that does not involve a funeral. Sadly, that is the time we most often gather now.

    Green peas…my childhood nemesis. I pushed those puppies around the plate for hours, and was dismissed only to do homework and go to bed. I eat peas today, but never canned ! ☺


  13. 1986? That is crazy talk. Also so is not liking mushrooms! Not even on pizza? I don’t think I was ever forced to eat anything I didn’t want, but I also wasn’t picky. I don’t like parents who make separate meals for their kids. My son wanted a turkey sandwich today. I said we’re having chicken and dumplings, and everyone is eating it. Life is hard when you go to other people’s homes and can’t stomach their food, so it’s best to learn to choke it down. But ah, the freedom of adulthood and choice!

    Karen and Lynne look very similar to me. I hope when Scott walked in, you gasped and said, “Great Scott!” They would have rolled their eyes, but still.


    • I’m growing more tolerant of mushrooms on pizza, Kerbey, but still would rather not.

      Great Scott! I wish I had thought of that, my friend. Wonderful line. And fitting, too. πŸ™‚

      Good job making the boy eat what you do, but allowing him to acquire his own tastes, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. When it comes to extended family, I have one female cousin on each side that I really love. That’s it. That’s all I got. My family is pretty much a wreck from squabbles and dramas, and now it seems like there are cliques. Don’t be sad, we’re not sad. lol
    Anyway, food was every bit as important as music growing up, and variety was found in both. No one made me eat whole servings of food I didn’t like, but I was told to re-try, re-try, re-try. I’m a foodie. I eat pretty much anything. I don’t care much for meat, and I really do not like cooked beets, but I don’t hate anything.
    I think it’s mean to make someone eat food they don’t like. I’ve only got one seriously picky eater, and she lives on her own now, so I don’t lose sleep about whether or not she’s eating her salad πŸ˜‰


  15. Yeah, I hate it when there’s this one person and everyone insists they exist but then it’s like you come into the room and everyone says they just left and you’re all like ‘they don’t exist’ and they’re all like ‘they do’ and then half the time they don’t and they were just doing it to drive you crazy!! Ha, ha…

    Mark, I have to tell you, if I were you, I would be going a little batty at this point with all those people around. Don’t tell anyone. You’re social barometer is much higher than mine. I’m glad you’re having a good time.


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