September 18, 2009

Linda's Family Vacation at Westgate in Gatlinburg, TN

We happened on two of these in the Smokey Mountain National Forest.
(stock photo)

For those who are checking, all family members have arrived safely to their respective homes after our 'first' family reunion at Westgate Resorts in Gatlinburg, TN. (Westgate was a fabulous place to get together. More about Westgate in my next article.)

To tell the truth, my sister, Sandy, and I have never felt like we were really an intimate part of any family reunion we attended. We attended Brantley family get-togethers, but got left off the kinship list when our dad died. We enjoyed Mascunana family traditions as small children, but after our grandparents (Grandpa Mascunana) died, we weren't included anymore. I'm not an active part of the Cash family reunions since the divorce (although politely invited), and I don't know any of the Meikle's at the Meikle family picnics. We received invitations to our mom's family get-together back in August, but schedules prevented us attending - and we heard nothing more.

So, for the first time ever, Sandy and I made up our own little family list and formed a small reunion that included our three children and their wives or significant others. (No grandkids yet.) There were 10 of us who showed up from all points of the US. From Tampa, FL to Portland, OR, to Columbia, SC to near Orlando, FL, and from Columbus, OH, we arrived by car and by plane bringing big smiles and warm hugs and kisses.

We are as diverse and contrasted as any family - if not more! But we communicated, connected and discovered each other as we collaborated, coordinated, and had fun in the shadows of the great Smokey Mountains Sept. 12-17, 2009.

I'm writing a comprehensive diary of our few magnificent days that I hold very dear to my heart! I'll post the memories we want to remember along with unforgettable pictures soon.

This morning as I started jotting down things we did together every day, I suddenly couldn't remember what we did on Monday! How soon we will forget the tender moments including all my birthday gifts and who gave me what; little things like Colleen's first bee sting; tall things like Bobby's goofy stories told while sitting around the flickering table lamp on the back porch; Sandy's constant flow of daily photographs and videos; Coffee at Starbucks with Billy and Colleen; Alison describing her new house and showing the photos on her cell phone; Craig walking all the way to the waterfall with his bad knee; the strange little shell Billy found on the nature hike and gave to Jim; Shelley quietly working on school work in the midst of a noisy cabin; Philip telling tales of his classroom; and the unusual friendship that developed between our dogs, Star and Sheba!

And for those fortunate enough to have seen them, who will ever forget the two wolves we chanced upon in the Smokey Mountains National Forest? Their eyes glowed in the headlights, and one lifted his head as we slowed down, and I turned the car cross ways in the highway to get a good view! It happened so quickly, we didn't get any pictures. But, it was an encounter of a lifetime!

All these are memories and more that I want to hold dear to my heart forever.

Thanks to each of you, Billy & Colleen, Philip & Shelley, Sandy & Craig, Bob & Alison, and my loving hubby, James, for sharing a few special moments in time together.

Take Care on the Journey,


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