Succession Of Heritage……………….#160 (80’s)

The Willson family reunion

The call was unexpected,  it was Gary’s sister Nancy in Modesto California, his first thoughts being that something was wrong as he couldn’t remember her ever calling him.   The call was to inform her brother about a family reunion to be held at her home  in Modesto, the event would be a first and possibly the last, a reminder of what he already knew,  the Willson’s were not a close-knit family.  Gary’s main concern was the suddenness of the event, the fact that his oldest son and daughter lived with their mother in Oklahoma City,  plus his requesting time off from work  and throw in the financial concern.  Gary calling his ex-wife about the situation,  Kaye assuring Gary that 16-year-old Scott was capable of looking after his younger sister if they traveled by bus.  The arrangements were not exactly ideal for Scott and Marlo, but considering the circumstance it would have to do.   Gary consider all the means of transportation but because of work and the time element,  leaving on a Friday and returning on Monday,  there was but one choice,  a departure from Wichita’s Mid Continent Airport.

.  It was a first for Gary, Mid Continent seemed compact compared to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, their Flight from Wichita to DFW uneventful.  Arriving in Dallas the family boarding  a luxurious wide-bodied Lockheed 10 11 for L A X, the second leg of their journey.   The family seated in the five seat wide center section of the craft, Gary somewhat disappointed as he knew Robert and Sandi would have enjoyed a window seat,  able to view  the passing earth below.  Once airborne Gary ventured to the rear of the 10 11 and coming upon something he would have never imagined.  The area at the rear of the plane where the seating ended was host to five lavatories in a semi-circle, and centered in front of the area was a small beverage bar,  but more important, on both sides against the outer wall, below the windows were long benches for seating.  Gary immediately realized, Robert and Sandi have found their viewing seats.

.  Once arriving in Los Angeles,  the Willson’s made their way from the Delta to the PSA and  Western Airlines terminal.  The Boeing 7 27 trip was uneventful until the approach to Oakland,  Gary having buckled Robert in the window seat,  the usual return to your seat announcement having been made,  the craft beginning its descent, Gary able to feel the slight vibration and distinguish the echoing hydraulic moan as the wing flaps were rotated down into position.   Young Robert looking out the window over the wing, being observant of what was going on, in a sudden and loud voice exclaimed   “Daddy,  the plane’s broke”.   After giving an explanation, Gary reasoned,  certainty can be a deception,  but acknowledgement is reality, especially from a four-year old.

.  Gary’s sister Kay having volunteered to  shuttle her arriving  brother and family to mom and dad’s house on McRitchie Way in Modesto,  having sold the families childhood home in Oakland.    Gary pleased to find that Scott and Marlo had already arrived,  and were staying at his sister Nancy’s house with their cousins Brian and Sarah.  The valley weather in Modesto was persistent with a shrouding damp presence fog, Gary recalling how frugal his dad was during the his youthful days when it came heating the house.   His mother acknowledging the below normal atmosphere of the house,  saying  his dad had never changed.  Gary’s sister Nancy’s foundation was exclamatory in her unmitigated preparation for the reunion,  espousing everything from dietary convenience to engaging a photographer to encapsulate this once in a lifetime momentous event.

.  Savoring the moment, taking stock of the assemblage,  the Ove’s, Katherine, husband John, their daughters,  Cindy,  Mary, Brenda and Sally.  His sister Nancy, her son and daughter, Bryan and Sarah Crowder.  Gary’s  four espoused children,  Scott,  Marlo,  Robert, and the youngest  Sandi.   The Bob and Betty Willson’s motley crew of aggrandized fortitude,  their presence an acknowledge of ancestral antecedent and the continued  succession of their Willson heritage.

.  Gary having mixed emotions about the reunion,  sensing he was more of an observer that a participant, it may well have stemmed from the fact,  he removed himself from the vicinity of the family enlisting in the Army after finishing high school and in a sense has never returned.  Gary shared and understood  his Dad’s solitary constitution,  his dad a victim of circumstance, Gary by choice.  His dad having lost his mother and father at an adolescent age, the family of seven siblings separated, the girls remanded to convents,  the boys raised in families as  wards of the state. His dad being turned out on his own when the $20 a month benefit,  ceased unable to finish high school.

.  He joined the CCC , Civilian Conservation Corps as a youth,  stationed and working in the forest of Siskiyou County building firebreaks and roads,  becoming a medic on the units ambulance service until meeting the future Mrs. Willson.  The elder Willson seemed somewhat disinclined with the effervescent of activity of the event,  almost as if not recognizing the reason for the assemblage.  The family activity with its youth was almost overwhelming at times,  the patriarch seeming to shy away from participation, but Gary’s Mother was in heaven, her extroverted presence flowing on high, elated with the convention of her family, soaring amongst the gathering,  ever absorbing the essence of this fleeting moment.

.  The reunion was in the element of conclusion,  Gary agreeing that the Willson’s were a motley crew with aggrandized fortitude, but still a symbol of  enduring heritage.  Gary and family once again traversing on a flight to Los Angeles rediscovering a  Lockheed 1011 waiting to expedite them  to Dallas.   Entertaining the flight Wichita,  Gary having thoughts about all that had transpired, concluding, a family reunion is more than a family get-to-together, it’s also a way-stop in life to “acknowledge the past” , “recognize the present” and “forecast the future”.

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