There is nothing better in life than family.
It’s not often that my little family, consisting of my parents, my sister, niece, and I can all get together for a trip like we just got to experience. These are rare occasions when we can all be free at the same time. I think the last time we did this was in 2008, when we planned a long weekend trip to visit my dad’s birthplace and where he spent the first 12 years of his life on the coast of Florida, near Wakulla Springs.
What started as a family get together with my mom’s brothers, turned into a full fledged family reunion, once the word spread that there was going to be a fish fry. My mom is the youngest girl in the family of 7 and had 2 older sisters and 4 younger brothers. Her 2 sisters are gone now, so she is the only sister left. I have fond memories growing up of going to the Tampa, Florida area to visit my mom’s extended large family. We have spent many fun days in this part of Florida. One of my mom’s brothers has a nice plot of land with a barn, cows and horses. Every time we visited at my uncle’s house, we had to ride horses and go out to the barn and hang out. There are so many great memories of these growing up experiences and riding horses were such a part of that. Playing in the creek and wandering through the cow pasture were also fond memories for these girls raised near the big city.
So, my whole family, my mom and dad, sister and niece, Lauren who was home for a visit, all of us piled into the car and took a trip to Florida for the weekend and had a wonderful weekend with our large extended family. It was another time of catching up and reliving old memories with all of them.
I’m discovering as I get older that we need to hang onto our family with all we’ve got. I love the family I came from and am so grateful that I’m a part of this wonderful heritage. My mom’s family is a Godly family, rich with pastors and missionaries, built on a solid Christian foundation that I would not trade for the world. Not a perfect family, but a sweet heritage to be a part of.
My sister, niece and I stayed in my aunt and uncle’s travel trailer, which sits in the backyard. It was cozy and a fun time for us girls to be together. I am treasuring these years more than ever now. We do not know how much longer we have with our parents and I’m savoring every minute that is left. Listening to their stories, reliving memories of our childhood and other family reunions that we’ve experienced. Sharing our lives together.
I forgot my big camera at home, so these were taken with a little point and shoot.
So, thanks for indulging me with family stories and fond memories of the heritage I was born into. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!
The barn where we all have such fond memories growing up, at my mom’s brother and sister in law’s house. Such fun times spent at this barn. It is nothing fancy, but holds a lot of treasured times.
My uncle has a few orange trees growing in the backyard.
Lauren, my niece and our cousin, Layna, with Layna’s new puppy, Jake. Layna rode us down the road on the golf cart when we got in on the first day.
Layna’s Dad, Dennis, my first cousin, saddled up Layna’s horse, getting ready to take him for a ride. Layna is a wonderful horsewoman and does barrel racing. She has been through some serious health problems in the last year and and half and we are so thankful that she is doing better right now, but she is not able to ride her horses the way she used to. Not yet anyway.
Dennis took her horse out for a ride to give him some exercise.
Dennis knows his way around horses too, since his dad, my uncle has always had horses around. He used to raise and race quarter horses for many years.
One of the things that I always loved and looked forward to seeing here in Florida is the moss hanging on the trees.
There is nothing like it and I still love it to this day.
Down the road from their house is another little ranch with cattle. If any of you have ever heard of Durant, you are probably a native of this part of Florida. That is where my mom grew up. It’s not too far from Plant City, the strawberry capital of Florida.
Layna and Lauren on the golf cart. My uncle still lives on the road where my mother was born and raised. The old house is gone, but not the memories.
We had fun playing with little Jake.
Enjoyed the horses.
Waiting to be fed.
Another one in the stall, they have 3 horses now. At one time, there were many more. We all laughed about the time one of my uncle’s horses, Magic Man, bucked me off. He was a BIG horse and it just about scared me to death!
We stayed in the camper in the backyard and it was fun.
Jake is part hound dog, a barn dog and will have a happy life playing around the horses.
These big birds hang out in the pasture too.
All three horses waiting to be fed.
We had some beautiful weather while we were there and Lauren and I couldn’t resist riding horses. I got a sweet old girl named Rose and she was just my speed. I would have had to beg her to run. She would barely keep up with the other 2. She’s the mama and they are her 2 boys.
Layna came out too and we all three took a few turns around the pasture. It was so fun to be on a horse again.
Lauren, Renee, and Layna, enjoying the beautiful weather.
Our big event was on Saturday. We had around 60 people, a group of family and friends gathered for another of their famous fish fries. Our family has been having fish fries since I was a little girl down here in the area.
Cousin Dennis is frying up the hush puppies.
Uncle Eugene is the expert fisherman and fish fryer. He fishes often and catches tons of Speckled Perch in the lakes in Florida, which he filets and fries up to a golden brown. This is the best fish!
He uses a coating of mostly cornmeal, with a little flour, salt and pepper and they always turn out perfectly.
Of course, they are deep fried. Yummy food, nothing better!
We have been having fish fries in this family for as long as I can remember. Back when my sister and I were girls and all our cousins were small, we were having fish fries here in Florida. Here’s an example of my plate. Grits, baked beans, cole slaw, deviled eggs and plenty of fish and hush puppies. Plenty of dessert too. We did nothing but visit and eat the whole weekend. 🙂
I have to give a shout-out to The Strawberry Hut in Plant City. I had their Cuban sandwiches a few years ago and we had to fit in a visit there. They are the BEST Cubans I’ve ever had, so if you are in the area, GO. Also, we had lunch at Fred’s Market one day, also in Plant City. It’s home cooking, all you can eat buffet, you can imagine how we felt when we left there. So, you can see we had no shortage of good food. My family loves to eat! 🙂
Here’s a small portion of some of the family members who were there. Aunts, cousins, and their babies too. From the left, my Aunt Evelyn, my mom, Aunt Mary, me, Lauren, Renee, cousins Joy, Carla, Jackie, Jackie & Joy’s mom, Aunt Frances, Jackie’s daughter, Jennifer and Jennifer’s 2 girls. These are all such special people to me and I treasure them all.
We had to take a pic of the older generation, my mom and her brothers. There were 7 and now there are 5. I love my family so much. My mom’s family has 2 preachers and my mom is a preacher’s wife. One of her brothers is blind (2nd from left) and even that didn’t stop him from becoming a missionary for many years to South America. My mom’s brother next to her is also a long time preacher. God has been so faithful to my family and all of their children. It was a special time for all of us to be together again and to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and grace to this entire family.
Godly heritage is a blessing from the Lord and for my Christian foundation, I’m so very grateful. If you have a large family, I hope that you are thankful for them too.
Do you still have family reunions? Do you go and enjoy them? I hope you do!
Loved this post! I too have parents who are aging and they were both from large families. Mother was the youngest of 8 and she only has one sibling still living. Daddy was 1 of 7 and he only has 1 living sibling as well. They are both 85 this year, in declining health but we are blessed to be able to have them continue to live at home with 24/7 care. My 2 young grandsons visit Mimi and Granddaddy once a week and they totally entertain them every time. We used to have huge family reunions back in Texas, Mother’s side had one every year and we had over 100 family members each time. I have vivid memories! So many similarities in our families, we had several circuit preachers in ours!
Thanks for sharing this post. I just got home from taking Mother to the dr, she is quite sick. It was a lovely respite to see the pix and read the information! We are all indeed truly blessed!
I must echo what Bren said, ‘It is our story!’ And, what a family we have! I love the Godly heritage our grandparents and parents have set before us.
It was soooo good to see you and get to hug your neck. Can’t wait til the summer when we all meet at the creek!!!!! Love you Cuz!
Well I don’t know about the others but I sure did enjoy reading about your family get together. And man those fish DO LOOK yummy! They had my mouth a watering! lol YUM
I’m with you on the family stuff. As I get older it’s much more special to be with the family. In fact I get a little teary eyed.
Kayla @ Your Day Simplified says
How can I be homesick for a place I’ve never been? LOVE that spanish moss! Lovely family too; thanks for sharing!
I’m just a little west of that area – we live in Brandon, which is “big city” (chuckle, chuckle) to Durant, Dover & Plant City! Glad you had a great visit!
Elizabeth H says
I love that you share such wonderful family gatherings. My family is so small and we don’t have reunions but wish we did. Something for me to think about.
Coming from a Florida girl, I’m so glad to see parts of Florida shown that those outside the state don’t often see or know about. I can appreciate fish fries, hush puppies and grits with fish:-) Good eatin’! Thanks for your blog.
Kristy Seibert says
Rhoda- I about fell off my chair when I read your post about your recent family reunion, AND your 2008 family reunion in Wakulla County, FL…because all my family on my mom’s side is from Wakulla County- Crawfordville, FL. I know very few people who have ever heard of Wakulla Springs, and much fewer who are from there!
I grew up going there as a little girl to visit my grandparents and recently took my two little girls there…we even stayed at the Lodge (where my kids could not believe there were no televisions and very little cell phone reception.) We had dinner at the Seineyard one night, and to this day, fried fish will forever remind me of my grandparents.
Wakulla County is a place of such quiet beauty- the real Old Florida! I hope few people discover it so it will remain a special place!! When I clicked on your 2008 post “Roots” it nearly brought me to tears remembering my grandparents home and all the times spent there.
Thanks for your post- I have always loved your blog and your style and now I feel even more connected to you through our shared “roots” to Wakulla County, FL! It’s such a small world. I wonder if your father knew my grandmother’s family!? She was Olivia High.
Thanks for sharing, Kristy @ Starfish Cottage
gertie @ The Old Block House says
What a wonderful place to have a family get together!
Unfortunately, my family does not have gatherings like this, but thankfully the family I’m marrying into does. It’s nice being in a family with strong binds and traditions.
Hi Rhoda……..You do have a great family & the best part is how wise you are about it. You do know to enjoy them now. My Dad was older when I was born and I did the same thing as you. I took him on trips and spent lots of time with him . Being a Daddy’s girl all my life, it was icing on the cake. It just added to all those years of fun we had together and gave me more sweet memories. My mother is getting older now since she was much younger than my Dad and we try to spent alot of time with her too and my brother is the “BEST”. We are so Blessed, you and I!!!
Debra @ Bungalow says
Despite the fact that you forgot your big camera, the pictures tell a beautiful story. You are blessed!
I read your blog everyday and wanted you to know that I live in St. Petersburg, Florida. Glad you had a good time in Tampa.
What a nice and nostalgic post. So happy for you that you all got time to spend together. Life goes so quickly by sometimes. When my grandparents were alive, we had wonderful family times with them and my aunt and uncle and cousins. I was very close to my grandma, and I miss her so bad sometimes, it hurts. I spent oodles of time with her, so I cannot fault myself for not spending time with her. Yes, I do/did have a mom and dad, I was close to my dad….mom not so much. This has taken a rather opposite turn, I just wanted to say that you are lucky to have such fine people in your family. Blessings to you all. Paula