We Is Family

Yes, we is family. And yes, those three words were tough for this grammar Nazi to type. We Is Family is not to be confused with my We Are Family post of yore, but a play on my maiden name, Weis, which rhymes with nice.

The nice Weis family recently celebrated a reunion in Panama, Iowa. Dozens of Weises gathered to introduced themselves, learn about their family history, reminisce the old days and of course, eat.

(Quick grammar lesson: It's not "Weis's" because we aren't possessing anything, just gathering, so if your last name ends in an S... ahem, mom.... it should read, "Merry Christmas from the Davises," with no apostrophe unless you're writing, "Merry Christmas from the Davises' dog." See what I did there? Forced my mom to get a puppy.

Back to the reunionizing. There were posters and pictures throughout the Panama gym that told the story of "Gabe" and Joe Weis, my grandpa's mom and dad. Gabe was short for Gabriella and she was a twin. She and my great-grandfather raised 14 children. Let me reiterate, a one, followed by a four. Catholics those days!

That's my grandpa on the bottom left.
Close up of grandpa Bud and his great-granddaughter.
My grandpa Bud, whose real name is Cletus, is the oldest of the baker's dozen + 1. He and my grandma Elaine raised 10 children of their own. My mom, Jan, is the third oldest of the bowling pins. Are you starting to see why we invited so many people to our wedding?

Anyway, before I find my point, I just want to tell you how cool it was to be in a gym full of people who only exist because of the two people who started it all. Granted, there were at least four people before those two but this blog post can only be so long.

Ooh, look here, it's my point. The Weis family is a close family. We play slowpitch softball together, we go to Culver's after the game together and we always spend Christmas day together (all nine of my mom's brothers and sisters and their kids and their kids' kids).

Recently, one of my uncles, Gail -the fifth oldest of the bowling pins- contracted West Nile Virus.

That's Gail on the bottom right with a majority of the first cousins.
He hadn't been feeling well and then one morning his symptoms included confusion and loss of speech. While the symptoms are similar to a stroke, I must tell you that my uncle Gail isn't your typical 55-plus-year-old. The man runs half marathons. He also plays softball and by "plays softball" I mean slides into third underneath the tag after legging out a triple. The guy is in shape and a great example of defying one's age. When I heard he was in the hospital - after the initial shock - I thought back to my last conversation with him. It was an argument. Not a heated one, but a little tiff about the Huskers/Hawkeyes upcoming football game. I don't think either of us had hard feelings about it, but after I heard about him being ill, I felt terrible that this was my last face-to-face exchange with him.

I don't think Gail ever had any doubts that he would make a full recovery, but with limited information in those early days and Google at my fingertips, I have to admit I was scared he would not. I didn't know if I'd ever get to talk to him again all because of a stupid little mosquito.

Growing up, uncle Gail was like a second dad to me. I spent a lot of time with his kids -my cousins- riding bikes and playing kickball in the backyard. We were all blown away that he could kick it over the fence every time. Not knowing if he would be OK in those first few days after he was diagnosed left me sick to my stomach. I just hoped he knew how much I cared about him. It seemed silly that we squabbled over a measly football game.

Thankfully, I got to show him how much he meant to me later that week when Rob and I visited him at home after his release from the hospital. He was tired, but joked around, talked some fantasy football and laughed at Faith's antics. It was so good just to enjoy his company.

My point is this: life can change in an instant...literally, in the time it takes a mosquito to bite you. Let the people who matter most in the world to you know it on a frequent basis. I know that's a difficult thing to do. You can't exactly hug someone from dawn to dusk - just ask Faith, I've tried it- but you can tell someone that you love them every time you hang up the phone. And if you do have an argument with someone, do your best to make it short-lived because life itself is too short. Forgive even if someone isn't asking to be forgiven because being the bigger person feels a lot better than being right. And when your head hits the pillow at night, ask yourself, "If I don't wake up tomorrow, would I be happy with the way I left things?" If not, apologize, forgive, forget and show someone how much they mean to you.

Life lessons by Nicole Lindquist over. And now for a picture of my daughter attempting to raid the beer cooler at the the reunion. She IS family!

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