MY HUSBAND AND I recently traveled to Santiago. Not Chile. Minnesota.
There we gathered on a 2 ½-acre parcel of land in Sherburne County northeast of Becker to reconnect with family for what will become an annual summer reunion of the Tom and Betty Helbling family.
The rural Buckman home where my husband grew up after his family moved from St. Anthony, N. D. The farm place was sold after Randy’s mother died and his father remarried. We drove past the home place en route to the reunion last Saturday. It’s changed with the house resided, the barn roof sagging.
Betty, my husband’s mother, died nearly 19 years ago at the age of 59. And, as anyone who has lost a mother too early in life knows, maintaining family ties after that takes extra effort.
Thanks mostly to Randy’s sisters, his family (seven remaining siblings and their families and his dad and stepmother) has continued to gather each Christmas as able.
My eldest daughter, Amber, and great niece, Meghan. Some family members slept in tents, others inside the house and yet others were close enough to drive home and return the next morning. Three extended family members also traveled from Center City, North Dakota, for the reunion.
But, as years passed and nieces and nephews married and had children, the family has reached a size where we can no longer all fit under one roof on a snowy Minnesota holiday. Thus the shift was made, just this year, to a summer reunion.
It’s a good change—no more worrying about snowstorms or icy roads—which should allow others, besides those with big enough houses, to host the reunion. Randy and I will take our turn eventually, but perhaps not for awhile as the reunion likely will fall on the same date as the son’s college move-in, like it did this year. And activities and noise will be more limited by our location on a small lot in a small city with neighbors right next door.
My brother-in-law, Jerry (in his out-law t-shirt), and my nephew’s wife, Heidi, tossed bean bags after supper.
Niece Kristina and Corey hosted this year’s gathering on a picture perfect Saturday, except for evening rainfall which forced us into the garage. But there were no complaints about the much-needed moisture.
My brother-in-law, Roger, is a the target for balls aimed by his granddaughter, Kiera.
My brother-in-law, Marty, took a spin on the bike and wiped out before I ran in the house and grabbed my camera.
Instead, there was laughter and reminiscing; plenty of smart talk; memories shared and made; quick zips around the yard on a mini motorcycle; bean bag tossing; ball throwing to the dogs and at grandpa; LEGO building; and cuddling the newest family member, three-week-old Kate.
And then the announcement: We’ll gain more family members in 2013 with the expected birth of two babies, plus the baby due in November of this year.
My niece, Jocelyn, with her three-week-old daughter Kate, the newest member of the Helbling family.
My mother-in-law Betty would be happy, oh, so happy to know her family is still growing and still gathering.
So sad to see the barn caving in on the former Helbling farm south of Buckman.
I have many wonderful memories of family gatherings at the Helbling home place.
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling