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!