Ode to Family Reunions

Feature Story August 2003
“Ode to Family Reunions”
(from Mrs. Lois Dappen Hinkly)
Family reunions…the summertime gathering that fill a child’s heart with joy?? My Heim Family Reunions were a challenge like no other I was faced with as a child. I was the last of six, by the nearly last of seven, by the last of who knows! (A large and prolific group). I leaned very quickly that there were good things and bad things about reunions – especially for the littlest and most obviously carefree cute “Heimette: within arms reach.

I don’t remember anyone over the age of my oldest brother…everyone was taller than him and all looked alike and they all treated me the same. They would wobble by, grab me, squeeze me, pinch my cheek, (I swear to this day that’s why I have flabby, rotund cheeks) and say, “You must be Ted and Dorothy’s baby, you look just like them. Ohhhh! What a cute face….(pinch, tug, pull again!) Why, I remember when your Mom…..” Then they’d skitter on and I’d get lost to find my most favorite of all cousins, Herky! (Obviously a nickname). Herky was a prize; I worshiped him because he could get into more trouble than me. (An interesting form of hero worship, huh?) I’d wander among the legs until I’d find him and off I’d go….trailing him to find some entertainment. Neither of us lacked imagination and we both enjoyed mischief my mother’s word.
One year we found a great climbing tree with a neat hanging ball that made a buzzing noise, Herky called it a beehive. He said if we knock it down with a stick and quick run to a car they’d go away and we could climb the tree. I was pretty impressed. We never did get to climb that tree…the car window was open, so was the next car’s window, and the next…..!

Speaking of next…another year we found a little creek…it had a cool, squishy, muddy bottom. Herky said if I sat down and sunked my head and opened my eyes in the water I could see fish and little bugs. I didn’t see any, all I saw was mud. It got in my eye.

Yet another year, we found a barn with lots of hay and a rope for a swing. Herky said we could grab the rope and swing over the hay and jump in it. That sounded awfully nifty. He went first….I never did get my turn. Herky had to go to the doctor to get his arm fixed….it broke. After that Mom and Dad got smart – I had a much harder time getting lost and finding Herky!
What bitter sweet memories I have about those days! Maybe I don’t quite remember them the way they were. Still, I was very anxious when my teenage daughter was about to go to the same Heim Family Reunion…..with out me. I gave her instructions to be good as she left with her grandpa, while I waited 300 miles away wondering when she’d call, what she’d think and more importantly what she’d say.

“Mom?, That family reunion was a bore….everyone looked alike. I didn’t know who anyone was, and they’d come up and grab me and pinch my cheek. Then, they’d tell me how much I looked like you. They’d start with these stories….you know…the I remember when your mother….!” Then she laughed! “By the way, Mom…..who is Herky?”