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Parhams Beach Reunion

Johnny Jones, 10 September 1999

My family burst into our condo when they arrived Tuesday afternoon, with hugging and talking and confusion. One of my sisters once said, "A little chaos is kind of fun." That could be our motto.

Beachbikeride.jpgOur family hadn't met my Dad's new wife, so we invited them for dinner about six. But after everyone got in, my sister Fran said she had to go shop for groceries. Amy and I decided to go with her. By the time we left, there were six females piled into Fran's rented van; on the way back, there were groceries everywhere but in the driver's seat. Back at our condo, Yvonne and Jordan were still visiting while we raced around to get groceries put away and dinner prepared for Daddy and Jean. It was just a little chaos.

After dinner, we had a Spades tournament. I noticed pretty quickly the advantage of the mirrored walls: you could see reflections of cards. But I couldn't keep that fact to myself, so my advantage didn't last long.

Wednesday looked like another good day for bikes. We invited everyone, but only teenagers came. Mike and his girlfriend, Lara, rented a tandem; I kept singing, "Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer, do." And they kept going ahead of us. Turns out the tandem goes about twice as fast as regular bicycles. Duh! With two pairs of legs pedaling, why shouldn't it fly along?

We split up to ride in pairs. Jenny had been working all summer, so she hadn't seen her sister Elizabeth very much; it was cute to see them holding hands as they rode together.

On our way back, we stopped for a late lunch at Las Palmas, a Cuban restaurant. The food was great, but the water was superb to us ten thirsty riders.

That night our family had a party to welcome everyone. We had people there from ages almost-ten to eighty. Would the things we had planned work for such a wide age group?

I shouldn't have worried. What a sweet, accepting bunch. After dessert, ice cream in flower pots with Oreo "dirt" and flowers stuck in, I asked everyone to make a list of things they liked about the person on their left, with a beach paddleball set as a reward. I should have known better. Our family can be a little -- well --competitive. So there was a dispute about who really deserved the prize. After that was settled, Bryan introduced a game called "Mafia," where you have to try to figure out who is killing the townspeople. It was loud! Accusations, protests, counter-arguments, claims of guilt, people pointing fingers, shouts of "Aunt Jo, don't try to look so innocent!" They loved it. We officially ended with a short devotional, but most of us stayed for more rounds of Mafia.

It was an incredible day. We had a nice, long bike ride, ate exceptional Cuban food, got to know nieces and nephews again, and threw a party that everyone enjoyed. How stimulating.

Stimulating: that's a word you could use for our Parham clan. I don't think anyone is bored when we're together. It was great to feel so popular, to have phone calls and people dropping by and a tent on the beach where someone was sitting or flying kites nearby. And if no one wasn't there on the beach, we could always check at the pool.

Many years ago when we had a family reunion/vacation in North Carolina, Jenny asked, "Why can't our houses always be next to each other?" I understood the question. I discovered again that I not only love my relatives, but I like them. I like them a lot. I enjoy being with them. I even like the minor chaos. It's stimulating.