About twice a year or so, usually around a holiday or celebration of some sort, my siblings and our families get together. It's usually not all of nine of us - but a group of us will come together for one reason or another.
My sisters and I laugh and tell our favorite childhood stories, and our husbands stand around and silently count how many times they've had to hear the same story repeated over and over since they became part of our family.
Those stories - aren't they the best? They need to be repeated. They just do. Over and over. Like the time my then 8 year-old brother mooned the car behind us out the window of the way back of our station wagon on a road trip to Charleston, WV for my older brother's soccer tournament, and my Mom was ready to do him in because she was convinced the man who bore the brunt of the mooning was now following us.
Or the time we were playing a kickball game with my Dad in the backyard, and he went to kick the ball, but he missed it and fell, shouting some expletive and sending all of us to the ground in hysterical laughter.
These stories, and a good handful of others get repeated time and time, again - every time we all get together.
Our past, our history, our lives as children with the same crazy parents, crazy cats and dogs, station wagons and backyard games are such a laughable, wonderful part of who we are.
Tonight, we had dinner with Jason's grandparents - who we lovingly call Pap and Gram. They are in town for Pap's great-nephew's wedding. Pap's sister, Aunt Anna, who lives here in Raleigh, also joined us for dinner. (Get that? Uncle Mark was there, too, since he drove them down here - but let's try to keep this simple, shall we?)
We sat at a large table, and I watched Pap with Gram and Aunt Anna as they interacted during dinner. Pap and his girl. Pap and his big sister. They have that same bond that I have with my siblings. An understanding that comes from having years of shared memories together.
We sat outside after dinner and I asked them if I could take a picture of the three of them.
I wasn't standing there ten seconds before they broke into laughter over something. I have no idea what. But, look at their faces.
They've spent the better part of eighty years together.
Something tells me that deep in the laugh lines on their faces and running wild through the veins in Pappy's hands - are thousands of "mooning" and "kickball" stories of their own.
And, when they get together, there will always be laughter.