A nonfamily reunion

By Joe Rector

A few weeks ago, Amy and I attended an event that was strange. We usually are good at finding such things. This one was a gathering at Admiral Farragut Park, and we had a fun time, even though it was confusing to understand.

To begin this story, I must tell you that I have a nephew. Stevie is 66 years old. Yes, it is strange to have a nephew who is only four years younger than I am. A lifelong musician, he’s won numerous awards for not only his performances but in production and songwriting. If you’re old enough, you might remember his Smoky Mountain Market jingles. Well, Steve planned a “family reunion.” He lives in Marietta, Georgia, but decided to hold the get-together in Knoxville, where most of us live.

Here’s where things become a bit confusing. Steve’s grandmother had two daughters, Peggy, my half-sister, and Linda. Peggy was grown and on her own when I was born. Linda lived with an aunt and her family named Burns. Even though we aren’t related, I knew Linda well as we grew up. Ruby and her three children and Mother and her three children spent a week in the summer at the same cabin in Greenbrier. I did not know for years that Linda and I shared the same half-sister.

All of this is to say that this gathering was more of a nonfamily reunion. Still, Steve managed to pull things together with plenty of help from his wife, Charolette, who is from Ireland. People with all sorts of connections attended so the event turned out to be a reunion of several different clans. The fun was watching Steve mingle with all groups because he has connections with them.

I met for the first time Steve’s children. Justin is a quiet person who manned the grill. He flipped hamburgers and hotdogs like a pro. According to Steve, Justin is an accomplished musician himself. His wife Miranda was friendly and invited us to set up our chairs with her. Deanna, Steve’s daughter, is a pretty woman who is as outgoing as her dad. She talked to everyone as if she’d known them for years. To think that I’ve never even known their names all these years is embarrassing.

My greatest joy came when Dallas arrived. Steve looks so much like my father, and Dallas has the same penetrating green eyes that Daddy had. Nephew and son hugged each other, and it was clear that the two have a special bond. Daddy must have looked down from heaven and smiled.

The day was perfect. Cool temperatures and crystal blue skies allowed folks to sit in folding chairs and enjoy the sunshine as they talked and ate. The Farragut Yacht Club and Fort Loudon Lake served as a background for pictures that families took. If Justin and Steve had played and sung, the reunion with folks who weren’t family would have been perfect.

A big thank-you goes to my nephew, Charolette, Justin and Miranda, and Deanna for bringing us all together. I’m glad to meet family members and their grown children. This nonfamily reunion felt more like an introduction to new friends, as well as a visit with old ones.