Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Cherishing the moments of a family reunion August 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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The Tom Helbling family gathers at Sportsman's Park, rural Clearwater, Minnesota.

The Tom Helbling family gathers at Sportsman’s Park, rural Clearwater, Minnesota. This is just a small portion of the group.

IN THE BUSYNESS of a family reunion—between the food and the kids running here and there and the reconnecting—it is the moments which define a gathering.

As Meghan helps her Great Uncle Marty open his birthday gift, the two exchange an endearing look.

As Meghan helps her Great Uncle Marty open his birthday gift, the two exchange an endearing look.

Rare one-on-one conversations, a look exchanged,

Cousins Beth, left, and Keira paused for a photo as they scampered through the woods looking for a tree to climb. They never found one they could both ascend.

Cousins Beth, left, and Keira pause for a photo while looking for a tree to climb. They never found one they could both ascend.

friendships reforged… all matter.

The sweet hand of my 18-month-old great nephew, Aston, as he naps in his stroller.

The sweet hand of my 18-month-old great nephew, Aston, as he naps in his stroller.

These are moments that imprint upon the memory, that seal the bonds of family.

The family patriarch, Tom, and his wife, Jan, admired Corey's bike, but could not be persuaded to take a spin.

The family patriarch, Tom, and his wife, Jan, admire Corey’s bike, but could not be persuaded to take a spin.

This past Saturday the Tom and Betty Helbling family, those who could make it, reunited at a park near Clearwater. Many came from nearby while others drove from Michigan, North Dakota and other points south and west in Minnesota.

Celebrating the birthdays of three family members.

Celebrating the birthdays of three family members.

Some were missing, including members of my family from Boston, eastern Wisconsin and St. Paul. Noticeably absent was the brother currently serving in Afghanistan and his wife and son back home in Missouri.

My brother-in-law, Marty, opens his "old fart" birthday gift.

My brother-in-law, Marty, opens his “old fart” birthday gift.

The older I grow, the more I appreciate these reunions with my husband’s family.

I was attempting to photograph my great niece, Katherine, trying on her mom's sunglasses. I finally got that shot. But I also got this one, my favorite for the loving look exchanged between the two.

I was attempting to photograph my great niece, Katherine, trying on her mom’s sunglasses. I finally got that shot. But I also got this one, my favorite for the loving look exchanged between the two.

And the more I find the children so absolutely endearing.

Bennett plops down and plays with his truck among the coolers.

Bennett plops down and plays with his truck and matchbox vehicles among the coolers.

The ball diamond proved a popular spot for the little ones like my great niece, Meghan.

The ball diamond proved a popular spot for the little ones like my great niece, Meghan.

Girl cousins snug up to a kid-sized picnic table to create art.

Girl cousins snug up to a kid-sized picnic table to create art.

They bring joy and smiles and a thankfulness for the blessing of this next generation.

Cousins Meghan, left, Beth and Keira bond over artwork.

Cousins Meghan, left, Beth and Keira bond over artwork.

It is my hope the kids will remember the importance of family and of these reunions.

My great nephew, Cameron, covers third base.

My great nephew, Cameron, covers third base.

Perhaps they will recall scooping balls from a dusty field, tossing pebbles on the slide, creating art on a child-size picnic table, scaling trees and more.

Quiet time drawing with cousins.

Quiet time drawing with cousins.

I will remember their preciousness, the little legs that raced, the hands that drew, the cuteness factor.

Marty, with his birthday gift bottle of whiskey, sports his out-law t-shirt.

Marty, with his birthday gift bottle of whiskey, sports his out-law t-shirt.

I consider how the years fly by and suddenly I am the one with (dyed) grey hair sitting elbow-to-elbow with my brother-in-law who sports a red “out-law” shirt.

A teaching moment for my niece, Kristina, and her son, Aston.

A teaching moment for my niece, Kristina, and her son, Aston.

Where has time gone?

Abandoning the ball field...

Abandoning the ball field…

And why don’t the women who married Helbling brothers have “out-law” shirts or sashes or something?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling