Trust fund babies we’re not, but the legacy we share is more precious than oil or the gold it could buy. The things we share in common relate to the importance of family, gratitude for the heritage and values we were given and a sense that we honor both those whose memories we hold precious and ourselves by giving importance to the tie that binds.
My maternal grandparents were Luther and Margie DeMoss. They had six children: L.V., Hazel, Melvis, Neva, Trula and Travis. As siblings, they invested a lifetime of valuing the gift of family they had been provided. They were not an enmeshed family who could not function independently, but they purposefully chose to remain close throughout life. Of the six, only Aunt Trula now remains this side of eternity, but the memories we share as extended family members continues to solidify and add value to life. Isn’t it true, nothing is of more importance than family?
I’m writing my blog from Nocona this morning. The location is pivotal geographically in capturing the family history that is woven together from the greater Forestburg-to-Ringgold area. Actually, I was born in Nocona. Although I never lived there, I have many childhood memories associated with the location. Some of you are thinking that Nocona is dangerously close to the Red River. You’re right, had it not been for Divine providence and protection, I could have easily been from Oklahoma. (Sorry, I could help myself) I have a friend that grew up in Wagnoer, Oklahoma. She now lives in Broken Arrow and was appalled (horrified may be a better word) that I previously suggested in one of my blogs that Broken Arrow had anything in common with Muscogee. How did I know that folks from Muscogee have the reputation of being a rough crowd?
At any rate, yesterday was the date of our annual family reunion in Nocona. With the exception of my Aunt Trula, the gathering was comprised of cousins and some of our children and grandchildren. It was an exceptional time. My cousin Jo and her husband Roger hosted the reunion. Jo mirrors her mother’s gift of hospitality. It was a refreshing day of sharing memories and building new ones.
My son Craig and his family were present. I think in the 20 years Craig and Becky have been married, this is only the second reunion they’ve been able to attend. Craig has always been stationed on one coast of the other and was in all likelihood deployed in a not-so-nice neighborhood elsewhere in the world. I guess that substantiates there are places even worse than Muscogee.
As a very thoughtful and loving surprise, Jill DeMoss, my cousin Lanny’s wife, presented Craig and Becky with a quilt she pieced together to honor his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps and to thank him for his service to the Country. Her loving kindness is the kind of stuff woven together throughout our family. We are indeed fortunate!
For me one of the highlights of the day was my Aunt Trula answering questions about her childhood. All of us have such fond and positive memories of Grandpa and Grandma that we wanted to know about her relationship with her grandparents. The memories she shared reinforced some of the stories I previously heard from my mother, but they also served as a catalyst to understand how fortunate we are to be one generation removed from her experience.
“Children were to be seen and not heard” were the marching orders for the DeMoss clan. That was a 100% contrast to the Long family (my grandmother’s parents) who lovingly and playfully were involved in the lives Aunt Trula and her siblings. Great Grandma DeMoss (I never met her) apparently was more aristocratic, controlling and distant from anyone who was not blood kin. In other words, if you had the misfortune to be a daughter-in-law or son-in-law you were more likely to be treated as a second-class family member. Even for the generation who followed, you were tainted because your DNA was not exclusively from the DeMoss side of the family. After all, the DeMoss family had oil money and oil was king. He or she who controls the money controls the family, so to speak.
I think it is interesting that Uncle Jim (one of my grandfather’s brothers) didn’t marry until he was sixty-years of age. It was only after the death of his mother that his dad suggested it was okay for him to get married. He had been dating the lady he subsequently married for fifteen years. Reportedly, he operated on the agreement that if he’d live at home and support his parents through his presence, that one day all they had would be his. I don’t know how any of that turned out. It was never discussed. But, what a tragedy to be held hostage by a dominate, overpowering, aristocratic and controlling parent. I’m sure that neither of my children would say that is true of me. Well, on second thought, they might say I have the potential.
I guess you could say that my cousins and I are like the “Beverly Hillbillies” one step removed. In other words, the oil money is no longer a defining family characteristic. It occurred to me yesterday that life for all of us would have been very different had our Grandma been like her mother-in-law. Grandma was the catalyst that always welcomed and made anyone added to the family (whether by marriage or birth) feel special and significant. She was one of the most loving and supportive people I’ve ever known. From what I remember about my great grandparents (Grandma and Grandpa Long), they, too, reflected the same radiance and Grandma.
I think all of that underscores that as children we learn what we live. I am grateful for the heritage and the extended family I share. What we carry with us if far more important that oil or the gold it can buy. What we share can’t be purchased.
By the way, one of the other things that emerged from yesterday’s discussion was the legacy of the DeMoss family. Yes, there is no denying it – part of our family make-up is French. Consequently I need to (should be) drinking stronger coffee.