This has been a great summer so far. Time with my girlfriend. Time with friends. Fun in the sun & water. Work that I really enjoy. And time to clean up some personal things as well. And family.
The Leonards haven’t had a family reunion in decades. Never in my lifetime, actually. But we did in June (I know, I’m late in writing this). 28 Leonards from 5 different states plus Europe arrived, and we had a blast visiting and playing with kids and eating and catching up.
It started for me a week ago Thursday. My Dad and uncle Dick had already been in San Antonio for a few days, so I met with them to help settle into a rental house for the weekend. This house turned out to be a real hit. It was large enough to sleep most of us, as well as host the rest of the family. Staying in that house with other family members was pretty cool. A lot of cool conversations happen in the “off hours” when you’re just relaxing.
My cousin Dottie arrived with her husband Scott and four of their boys, Nicholas, Nathaniel (aka ‘Tannel’ becuase his younger brother had trouble pronouncing his full name), Eric and Ethan. At the same time my cousin Tom and his wife Tammy, as well as my cousin-in-law William and his three children Jeff, Sharon & Katie. My aunt Mary & uncle John were also present. That night uncle John grilled some burgers and sausage and we all got re-acquainted with one another.
The next morning my cousin Kathy arrived with her husband Henry and their boy Zachary. After breakfast we all loaded up into cars and drove over to Ft. Sam Houston to see the house where my grandfather lived when my Dad’s generation was young. I had seen it many times before, but it was still cool. Its good to be connected to your roots. Just before dinner Dottie’s daughter Andrea and her husband Barrett arrived.
Friday night we all drove downtown for some Tex-Mex dinner. My cousin Suzanne was already there with her husband Ted and daughters Anna, Camille and Amanda. Liz arrived just in time to order with the family. Afterwards we walked over to the riverwalk. I spent a lot of time playing with the kids. Dottie’s boys loved my camera, so we kept passing it back & forth so that we could all take pictures.
Saturday we all met for a Tex-Mex breakfast, then went over to the Witte museum (everyone drove straight to it but me, the guy from San Antonio, LOL). They have a really cool part called the H-E-B Science Treehouse. The treehouse is targeted towards children, but lets not kid ourselves, the adults had just as much fun.
Saturday night was the main event. After the museum everyone went over to the convent where my aunt Lulu lives (she’s a cloistered nun with the Discalced Carmelites). We had a Leonard celebration with some Texas style bar-b-q, a pinata and a couple of games that got everyone involved. I came close to winning the family history game, but questionable judging favored Dottie. A few of the men played creative ball games with the boys. At the end of the night there was a bubble gum competition. The smallest person, Nicholas won handily, with a total of 15 pieces of Bazooka in his mouth. He could barely talk, but you could clearly hear him laughing. Visiting with the sisters in the convent was the primary factor in selecting San Antonio for the reunion. It worked out great because everyone loved getting to visit with them.
On Sunday a few of us (me, Liz, Sharon, Ethan and Eric) loaded up in the car and headed to Schlitterbahn water park. We met up with Andrea & Barrett, Suzy, Ted, Anna, Camille & Amanda. We played in the water for a full nine hours. Amazingly, the weather was perfect. It was a great day. We raced one another on water slides, splashed each other, waited in some horrendously long lines, and generally had a great time. Suzanne’s girls had been reticent for much of the weekend, so it was a blast to have some fun activities and get to know them. Ethan and Eric (Dottie’s boys) are athletic, so horsing around with them in the water was pretty fun, too. Barrett was pretty good at finding fun ways of playing in the water. At the end of the day Sharon (William’s daughter) couldn’t stop smiling. Come to think of it, none of us could.
Sunday night I showered, had a snack and visited with the family then said goodbye to everyone. It was hard to drive home. I love my family. I drove back to San Antonio on Monday night to have dinner with my Dad, uncle Dick, aunt Mary & uncle John, Suzanne, Ted, Anna, Camille and Amanda. I wasn’t too excited about driving there & back in a single night, but I’m glad that I did. I got to visit with Suzy’s girls some more which was great. They opened up and we talked about nothing at all for about an hour while the other adults visited in the next room.
So here’s a list of highlights, in no particular order:
- Having all of the Harringtons (Kathy, Henry, Zach, Scott, Dottie, Nick, Tannel, Eric, Ethan, Andrea, Barrett, Tom, Tammy, William, Jeff, Sharon & Katie) come to Texas. Thanks for travelling, it was so fun to have you here.
- Getting to meet Ted. He & Suzanne have been married for 18 years, and this was my first time to meet him. We were able to visit for a while at Schlitterbahn, and again on Monday night at dinner. Welcome to the family.
- Playing with Dottie’s boys. Nick, Tannel, Eric & Ethan are a fountain of entertainment. Spitting watermelon seeds, shooting water balloons across the street, chasing one another through a crowd on the riverwalk, playing ball… FUN!
- Getting to meet Barrett. He & Andrea were a blast at the water park.
- Seeing William and his children again. His wife Jenny (my cousin) passed away five years ago. Will & Jenny were a big part of bringing the Harringtons & Leonards together. They spent a year in Texas 12 years ago.
- Having Liz meet my family. I knew that they’d all love her (they do). I was hoping she’d love them, too (she does).
Okay, so lets not wait another 50 years before we do this again. Summer of 2009! Jacksonville? D.C.? Brussels? I mean it!