In fact, this one picture I'm going to share is one that Charlotte sent (one of the Sister Servants took it for us):
That's my parents, their nine children (one of whom is a Sister with the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word), their three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law, seventeen of their twenty-two grandchildren (five of the grandsons couldn't make it this time), and this wonderful priest friend who said the Mass at Casa Maria and gave my parents a special blessing.
It really was a wonderful weekend, and I had all sorts of things to write about when we got back, except that first I came home to a dead computer (which Thad rebuilt for me with a relatively small loss of data--he made me back up all of my books-in-progress before we left, and I can't tell you how incredibly glad I am that he did that!), and then I ended up with a mild cold that made me just drippy enough so that even the bifocals weren't working when it came to seeing clearly enough to type.
Still, even though I'm a week late, I'd like to put down a few things in no particular order--and if they seem a bit disjointed, well, so do conversations with my family when this many of us are present, but that doesn't stop us from trying. :)
1. My mom and dad still look incredibly young for people who have been married 50 years and who have nine children and twenty-two grandchildren (so far). My mom also still has enough energy to run circles around me, as she always has.
2. There is nothing quite like hearing several colorblind brothers complain about the names that are given to various shades of colors they already can't distinguish. "Burnt sienna? Now you're just making things up."
3. Sunday Mass at Casa Maria is, in my uninformed lay woman's opinion, exactly what the Second Vatican Council envisioned. Except those at the Council optimistically thought every parish would quickly and flawlessly implement this vision, because they hadn't imagined a) a lot of egotistical people trying to impose their own personal tastes on the Mass, and b) a lot of really bad taste in music, architecture, and liturgical translations getting in the way for 40 years--and after 40 years we've only fixed one of those three things...
4. I got to meet Catholic writing legend Amy Welborn at Casa Maria! I owe a certain sister-in-law for this, though; I was too shy to go up and introduce myself without her assistance. It was terrific to meet Amy, and I'm sure she's used to people being a bit starstruck and babbling--at least, that's what I keep telling myself.
5. My mom's older brother and his wife came to the celebration too, from quite a distance! It was great to see "Uncle J. and Aunt S." again! (I'll add their names later if they're comfortable with that; some of my relatives seem to prefer plausible deniability.) :)
6. Father Jerabek's homily was wonderful, and gave me a lot to think about. There may be a future post on the subject, if I can untangle my thoughts sufficiently. The nutshell version: two people in a good Catholic marriage do, indeed, deserve credit for having and raising nine children all of whom are still practicing Catholics in an age that is hostile to the faith--and yet we need to recognize the operation of grace in this reality as well. If and when I ever manage to unpack this, what I'm seeing, dimly, is a different angle on that age-old question, "How can I raise my children to remain in the Church?"
7. Small children are delightful. No, really! :) I remember when our girls were among the small children/grandchildren at these sorts of gatherings, and when you're the parents you don't always get to see how delightful your children are because you're busy not dying of embarrassment every other minute. But since my girls are nearly all grown up now, I got to enjoy my littlest nieces and nephews in a way that gives me a foretaste of what it will be like to have grandchildren someday--and I loved it.
8. I forgot two things about the small ones, though. One was the noise level, which ended up being familiar pretty quickly. The other, though, was that when you are wearing glasses and you pick up a toddler, the toddler will immediately recognize your glasses as your Weak Point and act accordingly. Sadly, it took two distinct reminders of this fact before I wised up.
9. When one of your sisters is a Sister, the rest of the Sisters are your family, too. And these particular Sisters are a joy to be with. They came over to play and sing some music for us all on Sunday evening, and I can assure you that you haven't really lived until you've heard a group of nuns sing a song some of them wrote themselves to chronicle the short life and unnatural but necessary death of an armadillo who was ruthlessly destroying their garden.
10. As much as we all enjoyed this trip to celebrate Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary, it was, and is, good to be home again. I have reached the point in my life when, if forced to choose between an extra night in a hotel somewhere and starting in on the trip laundry, the trip laundry wins. Which means I'm getting older every second--but, hey, I'm the second-oldest child of people who have been married 50 years, so I've earned it!