Special reunion for Aunt Joyce

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The Stansberry Family had a reunion about thirty-five years ago. I don’t remember much about it. Then families moved away from Elk City, Oklahoma. The next reunion was about four years ago at Roman Nose State Park, Oklahoma. We all agreed it was great and designated someone to plan the next reunion for the following year. When it never happened, I just dove in.

What a mess. The California relatives didn’t want to travel to Oklahoma so I chose Estes Park, Colorado, as a midway point. I knew it was beautiful and I made a great brochure. Well, it flopped. The Oklahoma people didn’t want to travel to Estes Park … the altitude was too high … they couldn’t get the time off … and so on.

People didn’t respond. I started producing a family newsletter hoping to get someone to respond about the reunion. I got very little feedback. I am one of the relatives who moved to California so I don’t remember a lot of family members. I don’t know husbands or children’s names. I don’t know what they do for a living. But I’m learning fast.

I swore I’d not try to plan a reunion ever again. Then my Uncle Bob passed away and Aunt Joyce, whom I love dearly, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctor told her it was fast spreading and she should make arrangements to die. My aunt wanted to see her family one more time. I decided to do a reunion come hell or high water. I hoped if I planned it, she would focus on trying to live a little longer.

As part of the reunion program, I am working on a videotape that will show the family tree with snapshots and narration from a diary that my great-grandmother, Mary Huff-Stansberry, wrote as she came out from Missouri to Oklahoma.

Church services to open the reunion will be followed by an ice cream social featuring some ice breakers I found online. The next morning the children will make centerpieces for the evening dinner. That night the entire family will meet at a restaurant for dinner, a family talent show, viewing the video, and a dance later for the teens.

About fifty people are coming! The great thing is Aunt Joyce’s cancer “that couldn’t be stopped” is in remission. I know that love is the true physician and it is inside us. The family brings it out of us. The family reunion is vital to our survival.

Reported by Beverly Hartman, Fresno CA

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