My family of origin is just not close at all. My sister has never been to our home in Minnesota. My brother, Jeff, came only because the national organization of chiefs of police had their convention in Minnesota one year and in our almost forty years of marriage, my mother has only visited us four times (maybe). In all fairness, the road goes both ways and Jeanne and I have limited our visits to my family as well, which is to say, we are not a close family.
Jeanne and I wanted to make sure we raised a family a lot closer than mine so about seven years ago with Mike's help, we organized our first family get together or as Jeanne calls it, a family re-union. Our first trip was to Utah. Scott and Tami live in Salt Lake City and Mike’s college roommate's family owned a beautiful home at Park City. We borrowed the home for a week and everyone had a great time. There was lots of wine, talk, food and just reconnecting which is important when we are spread out across the country in Minnesota, Chicago and Utah.
The next year, Jeanne and I rented a large home in Florida so my mother could be part of the party. Each day we would pick her up and bring her to the house where she would reconnect to her grandkids and great grandkids. Sometime during this visit, Scott expressed a desire to have a reunion in Minnesota where his daughters could have the same north woods experiences he had as a child. When the boys were younger, we spent just about every weekend up north in our camper. It must have been a memorable time in his young life to have him asks that his daughters experience a similar encounter with north Minnesota. So, after Florida, it was off to Holiday Resort outside of Garrison for another week together, this time in northern Minnesota. Since we were in Minnesota, we invited some aunts, uncles and cousins to join us. They came and we had a excellent week. Since then we have been to Cape Cod, and back to Florida and Utah and now back to Minnesota.
We have rented a large home on Lake Minnwawa outside of Brainerd. The house has three bedrooms, a loft and a den and can sleep 14 to 18 people. Like years past, we will be inviting cousins, uncles and any other family member who would like to join us for the day or the week. Renting the homes is not cheap, nor is the cost of travel for a family of four from Utah, but it is an investment in keeping our family a family.
There is a movie: Mr. Holland Opus. In the show, the main character is a music teacher who spends his life teaching high school kids and never finishes his music masterpiece. As he is getting ready to retire, the community gives him a “retirement party.” At that party one of his students says that although Mr. Holland never completed his music masterpiece, his real Opus are the students he taught. I feel that way. I love to sit in a corner watching our children, they are our Opus. They have grown up to be wonderful husbands, and fathers and are raising amazing children. I wonder where they learned all that they do as adults. I hope some of it came from us.