by Kari Diane Pike
About thirty years ago, my husband's parents came up with a plan for a family reunion every three years. Each of the seven siblings has taken turns as the "event planner" with everyone else pitching in to help make things happen. The location has varied: Mom and Pop's house in Calabasas, CA, Bear Lake in northern Utah, an empty school in Cottonwood, AZ, a beach side campground near Santa Barbara, CA, and even the Redwood forest. Activities have ranged from surfing and swimming to hiking and card playing and the giving and receiving of lots of hugs.
This year marked our tenth such reunion. We returned to Mom's house (Dad has been gone for nine years now) to celebrate "Grandma the Great turns 88". For the first time in many years, all seven of the Ken and Delores Pike children were able to attend. Even most of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren made the journey from as close as living in the same house to as far away as Anuktuvuk Pass, Alaska in order to celebrate our much beloved matriarch.
Dad Pike's family has a long history of family get-togethers - usually geared around Thanksgiving and Easter. With nine children in that family our numbers regularly fell between 80 and 100 people. This year was no exception. We laughed, talked, body surfed, browsed museums, discovered hermit crabs, sea anemones, and the occasional scorpion, and played games with about 117 links from our family chain. I'm happy to report that only one child wandered off and went missing for a few minutes at the beach and no one got run over.
We can't forget about the food. One night alone, we consumed 18 large Costco pizzas, three watermelons, 7 pineapples, 10 pounds of strawberries, 6 pounds of grapes, a #10 can of mandarin oranges, 4 large bags of Caesar Salad mix- plus croutons, and two entire sheet cakes. On other days, parents and grandparents alike pitched in to feed the masses with countless pb&j sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, granola bars, bagels, cold cereal, french toast and the requisite s'mores.
Our daughter Kati played a video she had created from snatches of old home movies taken over the years. Seeing the smiles and hearing the voices of children now grown and older relatives who have passed on brought tears to my eyes. My sister-in-law Penni provided stories from the lives of Ken and Del and from each of their parents. We played a family trivia bingo game based on the stories and sang "Love is Spoken Here" and "A Child's Prayer." Old wounds received healing and love and the hearts of the children truly turned to their fathers as we remembered who we are and why we are here.
Getting together is getting more difficult as our family grows and spreads around the world. Del is the last of her generation still living from her side of the family and only one of Dad Pike's siblings remains. The Pike reunions of days past fell by the way side as the older generation passed away. Some how the baton got dropped. I hope that we never drop this one. Families truly are forever.