I was reminded today that all of the days of my life have been important – good ones and bad. Without them, I wouldn’t have been where I was today.

Today was the day of the Hendrick family reunion. My mother was Jennie Hendrick, and she had three sisters and two brothers. One brother, Uncle Dan, did more to keep the family name going than the rest of his siblings. With Aunt Edna, they raised twelve children on a small farm in East Tennessee. The Hendrick name and legacy is alive and well, as I discovered today.

I think there must have been close to 100 cousins, aunts and uncles, children and grandchildren, and brothers and sisters at the reunion today, which was held in Dayton, Tennessee, not far from where Uncle Dan and Aunt Edna raised their family. I saw cousins I haven’t seen since childhood, along with their children and grandchildren, all filling the social hall of the community Baptist Church. Big hugs, lots of tears, more hugs, more tears, an abundance of laughter, story-telling, sharing memories, eating delicious food – that’s what the day was all about.

I was so very happy to be there, and thankful that my path in life led me to this day and to this place. I have been guilty lately of being angry at myself for mistakes I’ve made in life, decisions that proved to be very poor ones, and for sometimes choosing a path that was not the best one for me. But as I looked around me at all of these people who carry some of the same DNA as I do, and who share a common heritage as mine, I thought about some wise words a good friend said to me not long ago.

As I was bemoaning my past and feeling guilty and regretful over past mistakes and for things in my life that didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, he said to me, “You can’t beat yourself up for your past. You are where you are today because of your past, and you are the person you are today because of your past. Don’t dwell on what is behind you. Be thankful for where you are today and for who you have become. You wouldn’t be the person you are if you had not gone through what you did.”

With these very wise words echoing in my head, I opened myself up to my many Hendrick cousins, knowing that, even with the poor choices and mistakes I have made in my life, everything in my past – good and not so good – has led me day by day to this day, teaching me valuable lessons, to the person I am becoming, and to a wonderful day of celebrating family.

Another great day to add to my collection, that’s for sure!


One thought on “Reunion!

  1. Scottie Atkins Spry

    Your friend was ideed wise, Jennie. I think we are the sum total of all of our experiences – some good, some bad, some great, and some terrible! I also believe it is extremely common to occasionally let ourselves lapse into the “what ifs”. What if I had or hadn’t done this or that? I have always heard, also, that we have to experience the lows in life to be able to truly experience the highs and perhaps appreiate them more. Whatever the case may be, life goes on and it’s up to us to keep moving forward and try to make the best of the time we have on this earth. Sounds to me like you have it all together, my friend. Have a beautiful day! Love and hugs

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