…From the desk of Jayne Battey
My dad, Arthur Lincoln Turner, Jr., is one of nine children. As far back as I can remember there were cousins, aunts and uncles sprinkled across every aspect of my life. There were the beautiful older girl cousins who I shyly waved at across the hallway in school (“that’s my cousin”); the younger boy cousins who shyly waved at me; the troop of volunteer firefighters at every summer picnic and parade, and the straight-out-of- Normal-Rockwell older aunts setting up at every church social.
We are family. That’s the long and short of it. And there is something amazing and wonderful about knowing you are part of this web of familial connection. That as you celebrate and mourn, as life hands you challenges and triumphs, that somewhere there is family quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) by your side. Over the years I’ve gotten notes of celebration and mourning from people I barely know—but I know they are my father’s sister’s kids, or they are those cousins we spent a week with one summer. We share a grandfather and a grandmother and that’s more than enough to connect us in an endless and indisputable way.
Earlier this month Mark and I attended the 2015 Turner Family Reunion. It was a wonderful gathering, with about 90 family members. We shared photos, stories, memories and life updates; we met new babies and new cousins; we celebrated my dad’s upcoming 90th birthday. We tossed water balloons and eggs; we spoke of the Mayflower, Native American Princesses and Daughters of the American Revolution. We took picture after picture, and we fondly remembered those family members who had been lost to us both long ago and in recent years. We talked about health and family and the things that bind us together. We didn’t talk about politics or jobs or money.
And when we had to say goodbye, I wasn’t really quite ready to leave. I wanted one more day—one more day to hear the stories and the journeys, to reconnect and feel safely and surely part of this community where I know my place, I know I am loved and I don’t have to do anything at all to earn this. Family. How grateful I am to be part of this big, noisy family.