This past Saturday found the Perry clan squeezed into the family Saturn on our way to a Perry Family Reunion taking place at Surry Mountain Lake in New Hampshire.
My husband’s side of the family all originated from Hardwick, Vermont. Spencer’s grandfather moved from Spain to Vermont to become a farmer and raised a very, very large family of 6 sons and 1 daughter. (I may be slightly off on the headcount so you’ll have to permit me so slack…let’s just say there are alot.)
All of the children have passed on except for my father-in-law George and his remaining brother Francis. He still lives in Hardwick and being in his late 70’s hasn’t stopped him from cleaning the local bank and digging graves. The Perry boys are hardworking.
So when my father-in-law asked if we’d be interested in going up for a family reunion, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Being that both brothers are older now and distance keeps them apart, you never know when it will be their last chance to see each other.
We drove about an hour and a half up to Surry Mountain Lake. Our directions told us to take a right onto Surry Dam Road and immediately I found myself driving us all over this HUGE dam. As I guided the Saturn across this high altitude, all I could think about was that I’d give anything to be off this dam. It was too high and felt way too unprotected. There were roped guard-rails on each side of the dam which only gave me more of an incentive to push the pedal harder to get across faster. I hate bridges.
Apparently too fast. As we hit an unexpected dead-end at the end of the dam, a park ranger was happy to inform my father-in-law that we needed to slow down as the speed limit was 20mph. He then went on tell of seeing a bear chasing two deer just moments ago. My father-in-law apologized and got directions to the park and we turned the car around to head back over the dam. I drove slower this time, but my inside voice was swearing up a storm. Where were the signs posting the speed limit? Would someone really be walking across the damn and be all startled to see a white Saturn blazing across at speeds approaching 30 mph? Stupid park ranger in his stupid hat.
We arrived at the park and the reunion was in full swing. There were Perry’s everywhere and we hardly recognized anyone. We had been asked to bring drinks and chairs, but really there wasn’t any need. Francis’ son Bruce and his daughter were true party planners in every sense of the word. There was plenty to eat and many places to sit. We looked over an old reunion photo album from 1964 when my mother-in-law wore a fashionable kerchief on her head and tossed her head back in a laugh that reminded me of Jackie O. I saw pictures of Spencer when he was a mere five years old wearing little boy overalls and looking uncomfortable being around all the grown-ups. Not much has changed.
Spencer, Katie and I kept mostly to ourselves throughout the day because this reunion was really more about two brothers getting together to see each other for maybe the last time. George is practical about everything and he knows that everytime he sees his brother Francis it could very well be the last time.
We all got together for a big family photo and then the first cousins (Spencer and Katie only this time) got a picture together. It was funny watching Spencer and Katie stand there because they really weren’t part of the Perry family-more just along for the ride.
But at the end of the day when we were getting tired of being sociable and getting ready to leave, I happened to catch sight of a touching moment that made the trip worthwhile. I saw George over talking to Francis and they must have been saying their good-byes. George extended his hand and gave his brother a firm handshake which conveyed all the love and respect that two brothers could share on a hot sunny day amongst a brood of Perry’s. No hugs or pats on the back were necessary. Just a handshake wishing each other well and a hope to see each other again.
I hope that my father-in-law gets to have many more handshakes in the future.