You ever wonder why old folks like to bring up the past. Sure, one of the reason is that it reminds them of their younger days when they were spry, fit and could chase the wind without a care in the world. Try asking them which was the most memorable or happiest time in their life. Seldom are the two during the same time period of their lives. Frankly, for anyone past the age of thirty, the question causes us to pause and remember events, people, and family. It is very hard to put those two verbs together with a time period in our lives. It or they may be memorable, but you may not have been happy at the time.
Yet on rare occasions, those feelings do converge around our life’s timespan. More likely than not, the timeframe has to do with a loved one in your family. You mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, siblings, uncles, aunts or favorite cousins. There is someone in that group that makes us laugh whenever we think of them. Just the thought of one or another in that group makes us cry like a baby. Or maybe we just get emotional with a little whimper when we close our eyes and see their face. We miss them, and yes they did make us happy.
It is sad to say and a very human nature practice to take people for granted while they are alive. There are relatives that were part of my life that I would give almost anything just to have another conversation with them. Some of which always wanted to talk to me. Sometimes I was too busy at whatever to give them some of my valuable time. You know, you got things to do, people, to see and someplace to go. I’ll get with them tomorrow, next week or… And sadly, one day they are no longer around. That is when you need other family members around so you all can remember a particular relative or relatives.
It’s those family members that are alive and kicking we want to remind you of today. Those who are growing old, or growing up, getting married…or not, having babies. We are talking about relatives who have moved out of state or just across town that you seldom see on a regular basis. You may have been inseparable as kids, teenagers, or young adults. Now you move in different circles. You don’t like some of their friends and they don’t like a few of yours. Yet, your friends as close as you may be to them, don’t have the kinfolk’s blood running through your veins. There is no one that can sit down and talk to you about Uncle Reemis, Aunt Sally or Cousin Toby like a relative.
If you want to get an idea or be reminded of how important family is or should be to you, talk to an elder in your family. Or try talking to a Family Reunion organizer and those who are eager to help them. That is why they get involved because they understand the importance of family. And here is a thought…especially those that we may not know. We may have grown apart or again, don’t travel in the same circles. We’re still family. Think of children who are teenagers or young adults at the dating age. We don’t want them dating an unknown relative. Some of our children are not aware of any relative outside of Grandma, Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy. That is why we have and attend family reunions. If you think about it, they are just or in some cases, more important than get-togethers at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I remember the first “Arkansas Family Reunion” I attended was in July of 1992. It was organized by my cousin Kathleen Hampton-Lee and a committee. I call her the family historian. The festivities meet and greet Banquet, Picnic and worship was over a three-day period. Since we were living in California, my wife and I arranged our work vacations to coincide with that same time. I can’t impress upon you the enjoyment of seeing, just being in the company of all those relatives during that time. People, I had not seen since I was a kid. Folks, who I did not even know, much less remember kept coming up to me. “Boy, you look familiar…who are your parents?” “Codis and Doreatha,” I would answer. Some of them would just burst out laughing at the thought of me being C Odis (Arkansas pronunciation of Codis) son. “Alice,” my uncle would shout at his wife, “Come over her…now. I found him,” he would say while hugging me. “Boy, you don’t remember me do you? Why, you and your daddy use to stay with us. You know while he and your mother were going through their split-up thing. Where is that C Odis? I have been looking for him too.” It’s moments like that I remember as I pointed in daddy’s direction for my Uncle. Once he spotted him, he took off running and calling out daddy’s name. That left me and my Aunt standing there looking at each other and smiling. “You still look the same as you did when you were five years old,” she would say as we began to reminisce. I know that was more than a couple hundred pounds ago, I would laughingly think.
The Theme was “It’s a Family Affair.” Cousin Kathleen and the committee did a great job. They passed out a booklet on family history from the 1800’s. It has family pictures and family trees. I still have the booklet. The cover has a tree with rooted surnames of Belin, Childs, Davis, Green, Hall, Hampton, Momon, Pumphery, Roshell, Tatum, and White. The tree branches has the surnames of Wright, Pickett, Hicks, Webb, Wheeler, Gardner, Lovett, Brown, Trotter, Finks, Jones, Griffin, Hayes, Strong, Falls, Wilson, Purifoy, Johnson, Newton, Phiefer, Woods, Wiley, Sweeny, Harmon, and Neal. That was one of many memorable family reunions I have attended, especially in Milwaukee.
Over the years, the cost of putting on one of these affairs has risen as has everything else. The ability of entire families to attend have diminished by those we have lost, job retirements, or simple logistical issues. Yet the importance of attended these type family affairs has increased. Turn on the TV news, read a paper or the internet. You will see and hear the rhetoric directed at our race. We are under attack by a few powerful forces in this country and I am not just talking about the skinheads or other racist organizations. I am talking about people with money who profit from having groups of people angry at each other. The groups can be separated by skin color, politics, and economic class. That is why we need to reach out to the foremost association that binds us, our family. It is the blood that runs through each of our veins.
My wife, Sandra and I attended the “Childs, Davis, Green, Preston, Belin” reunion in Las Vegas in 2013. Again, we had a ball, meeting new people and seeing old friends. That reunion will be held in St. Louis on June 26, 27, and 28th. The phone number to host Fannie (Davis) Fuller is 314-372-6668. Her email address is email@example.com. Please contact her for the full details. Obviously she is not alone in this as other contacts are Deinene Thomas (314-769-5006) and NaToya Fuller at 314-546-0730. This Reunion location was announced at the Las Vegas Reunion. Those involved in the organization will tell you it is more than a notion and costly to put on such an extinguished family affair.
June 26, will be “Meet & Greet, June 27, Banquet & Dance, and ending with the Family Church Service followed by a Family Picnic in the Park on Sunday, the 28th of June. Fannie wants you to know that attendance checks will be accepted up until June 12, 2015. At this late date, it best to call one of the contacts given above. They also have “PayPal” accessibility by calling 314-372-6668 with your Visa/MasterCard/Discover card information.
Hamp’s Corner of America will broadcast a live show on that Sunday. We will have interviews with family members in attendance. So stay tuned for further announcements on our websites and other social media. It is my intention to get more involved with publicizing these types’ events involving my family members. With that in mind, members of the surnames above (from the 1992 Milwaukee Booklet), please send your contact information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, using Family Reunion as a subject. I am going to establish an Arkansas Contact Network and advise all of other family reunions in the planning stage up through the actual event. It is also my intention to broadcast my show during those events. Please note this is outside of whatever everybody else is doing. Nor does it preclude what others can accomplish. I’m just announcing how I will contribute to an effort I believe needs to continue for the sake of our family. I will also be looking for others to help by providing contact information.
Some families may start with a small reunion in their current location and let it grow from there. The point to remember is that we are family. I know…everybody has a rogue or two in their family. Maybe one day they will come around too. Meanwhile, we are not a gang, homies, social club, dogs, or girlfriends. We are family and nothing takes the place of that. Please, let me hear from you.
Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,
Codis Hampton II
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