I missed my family reunion…on a beach in Florida

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 10, 2006

As I sit here in the office writing my weekly column, I can only imagine what my parents are doing right now.

See, every two years just about every branch of the Baldwin family gathers in some unexpected town and takes over for the weekend. Although my family likes to call it a “reunion,” I prefer to call it the “Baldwin Conquest.”

At the close of every family reunion, the floor is opened for a family to take on the task of planning the reunion at the next location.

Email newsletter signup

It is at that moment, the undercover plans begin for us to invade some unsuspecting town in a matter of years. If we had bombs, guns and ammunition, some people may call us terrorists. Some folks may think that anyway, considering the large number of children who show up with an infinite amount of energy and extremely loud voices.

So, last year at our special 25th reunion in Selma, my cousins – at least I think they were my cousins – stood up at the final banquet and said, “We will have it in Florida.”

Somewhere close to Miami, not quite there though. But close enough so you could spend most of the “Conquest” taking over someone’s beach.

My eyes lit up. I had spent a few days in March 2004 on the beaches of Miami and man did I enjoy myself. Strange, because I am usually against the outdoors – maybe it was the people I traveled with.

Anyway, I was already prepared to spend this weekend in July on the beach playing with cousins I hadn’t seen in eons and meeting new family members, some of whom I don’t remember ever meeting and others who have known me since I was “an itty bitty little something.”

Unfortunately, something got in the way, and I couldn’t get around, over, or underneath it. It’s called a job.

With the employment, or lack there of, in this office I just knew it would be impossible to take a few days off to relax with the family.

After all who needs to spend time with family?

They are only the people who poke around in every aspect of your life, call you at the most inconvenient moments, give you money when you are broke and support you when you need help.

O.K. so some parts of having a family are good – really good.

However with three people working on the editorial side of this office, I would have left behind some serious stress. Not that I care, because I would be on the beach, eating great food, collecting funds, and spending time with the family.

But each time I think about taking a day or two off, I think about what I came back to once I returned from home the last two times.

It was as if I had fallen a decade behind in a matter of days. Just horrible.

Anyhow, right now, my parents, a few more of my immediate relatives and a couple hundred family members that I don’t know, are in Florida.

I am not too sure what they are doing, but I do know my mom and dad felt a need to get down there a day before the actual festivities began.

As you read this, there is a hotel somewhere in south Florida suffering because my relatives are spread out on every floor of the building, ordering room service, chasing infants and walking through the door every 10-15 minutes.

But it’s great fun – for us.

We laugh, we talk, we take a million pictures and we get to see some of our relatives for the last times.

Last week, my great aunt Annie Mae died at her home in Chicago. This past weekend, my parents were able to fly down for her funeral, unfortunately for me – I wasn’t able to make it.

But I do remember the last time I saw my great aunt. It was during the Selma Conquest and I remember taking a picture with all my great aunts, Annie Mae and Pearlie Mae.

I remember them laughing as I gathered them together for the snapshot. I had just told them how a friend of mine started calling me Driena Mae during my freshman year in college and it stuck with me for some reason.

So, it was a picture of the “Maes.”

I never got the opportunity to send out thank you cards for graduation, which means my great aunt never got an official thank you from me for the card she sent.

Sorry for putting things off, but thank you Aunt Annie Mae for all the prayers you’ve said for me over the years.

As a matter of fact, thanks to everyone who sent something or called me when I graduated. You will get something in print soon. I promise I will find the time.

And, I will be at the next family reunion because I know it’s not a true takeover until the entire Baldwin Klan rolls into town.