Thursday, October 17, 2013
I first met this crowd some six decades ago. They were just kids, and I was the newly ringed fiancé of their uncle, who brought me to Augusta, Georgia, to meet them and the rest of his family. The youngsters jumped up and down, gave me hugs and greeted me warmly as all good southern children are wont to do. These five Garys – mostly red headed –belonged to Jim’s sister Mary.
They don’t jump up and down anymore, but they still hug warmly and do special things, like inviting us to Edisto Beach to spend a day with them during their “Sibs” reunion. We’ve seen each other frequently over the years of course, but this was the first time in a long time since we’ve had the chance to be all together at the same time. Most of them are retired now, are grandparents themselves and have that wonderful white hair that morphs from auburn tones. They are also quite the versatile bunch.
Laura, the eldest, was a junior bridesmaid in our wedding. She is a Master Gardener and lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband Jack. The rest are all in Augusta. Al, next in line, is retired from business and is our miracle nephew. Just a year ago he began his struggle with a life threatening medical condition. He’s recovered now and we’ll continue to celebrate this victory for years. His wife Nancy, a retired Family and Consumer Science teacher, is a wonderful cook who provided us with feathery light and luscious apple dumplings after a restaurant lunch.
Then there’s retired teacher, Irene, who is now in the antique business with her sister Mary Hill, still working in banking. The latter was the only blonde in the family and also sports white hair. She was there with her husband Bill, retired from business, who loves to cook and who gave me a recipe for “Omelets in a Bag” which I’ll share with you one day soon. (Maybe along with Nancy’s dumplings.) Reed, the “baby” of the family, is a computer guru. He came with his wife Jan who is in the medical field. Both of them still work.
We Hills were invited to join them as Jim has been deemed the Family Patriarch, as his sisters and brother have all passed on The day was meaningful for us all.. There’s always at least one member in each generation who’s interested and active in keeping the family together. We are blessed that my husband’s sisters’ families all fit that bill.
They treated us to lunch at what one food critic referred to as an “Edi-slow” tradition, Whaley’s. Some call it a delightful “hole in the wall.” Coastal Living Magazine called it “This old filing station, (opened in 1948) with vintage gas pumps, (which) serves to-die-for fresh local shrimp on cheesy grits. Other divine offerings include crab cakes . . “ These I personally recommend. They also serve something called “raw fries” which turned out to be fresh potatoes sliced paper thin and fried to crispy perfection.
Another full-cycle family bonus is that Bert Gary, son of Al and Nancy, now lives in Summerville with his wife Lauren and their children. We can all rejoice in the fact that some threads are longer – and stronger – than others.
And thank God for that.