Learning about family

120. Exit 147A, the most lovely in the country. I’m home!

119. Safety in travel

118. A chance to see my grandpa one more time

117. Living generations of faithfulness

116. An extended family that loves and accepts me, cares about my life

Confession: Going to family reunions is an education in itself.

You learn amazing things. Like the fact that your mom’s cousin gets goose bumps when God’s knocking, just like you do. Like how to make monster cookie bars, and how to throw together a really sweet and simple ice cream dessert.

  • Oreo cookie crumbs with butter
  • Butter pecan ice cream
  • A drizzle of caramel syrup
  • And a generous layer of whipped topping

Like how to ride a 30-foot zip line. Like how your grandma looked at 14, on an old black and white picture. Like Family Dynamics 101, and what happened when your aunt died. Like whose church made the best cookbook. Like maybe you have Native American in your ancestry…

And you learn things that can’t be named or quantified so easily.

Like how much your grandpa has changed, how shadowy he’s getting as he approaches the brink. Like how quickly 30 years pass—I blinked, and me and my cousin hobnobbing as kids transformed overnight into his son and my daughter.

And more…

How the young are the hope of the old. How inexorably the unraveling happens, the aging, the slow unlearning. How love sustains you when you get there.

How easily a child reaches across the gap of dementia, making a beloved but out-of-sync old man light up.

Everyone else is looking at the camera, but my grandpa is lost in Kelly’s skin.

How little time we are given.

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11 years ago

I was proud of your riding the zip line. Hot stuff, girl.

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

That’s my dad…how is it possible??!! Just yesterday he was strong and healthy and giving me advice. I don’t love him any less!

11 years ago

“but my Grandpa is lost in Kelly’s skin” – beautiful.

GrandmaKitty Brown
11 years ago

This…. is beyond beautiful.

cousin derek
11 years ago


Irene Bontrager
11 years ago

Lovely photo of Eli and Kelly. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at the photo. Wonder what it is about this kind of picture that jerks at a deep place in my heart. I don’t have words for the tears. Eli looks so alive. Glad you could visit him.

mama zook
11 years ago


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