17 August 2009


Our family gathered this past weekend from Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arizona--four generations of Jacobs. Some traveled on Friday to a small town in southwest central Illinois to wander through the streets and family cemeteries reminiscing and reliving. These small towns are barely breathing. Bowen
no longer has a cafe or funeral home or even a grocery store, yet our family has rich memories of happy days spent in my grandparents modest home and walking the few blocks for groceries, the mail, and socialization.

Our grandparents were intelligent and socially active with quick-witted humor. They were storytellers and historians. They lived a simple yet rich life in an era still friendly to small town existence.

There were 14 people at our gathering on Sunday 78 years and older, and almost 20 children. The cousins (about 15) fall in between--some of us are still raising children, but most of us are nurturing grandchildren and caring for parents.

Many of us are retired from teaching, nursing, business, government, and the trades. As a group we define middle America. We have reared our families with a strong sense of God and morality, we've paid our taxes, voted, and followed the rules. Not one of us has appeared in reality television, or on a police blotter. We are a healthy lot and can expect to continue to gather intermittently for another 20 years of so.

So, while our gathering was not of the headline grabbing variety, it was filled with people who were genuinely happy to be together; a family scattered by geography, but happily linked by a set of grandparents who lived their entire lives in a sweet little town that never boasted more than 550 citizens. We joked of buying our grandparents house (on the market for $15,000) and building a Jacobs' theme park. The inherited humor gave us fuel for awhile and we laughed together. Still, there was probably more than a moment or two when each of us considered what it might be like to move to that little town in search of the peace and contentment and sufficiency that our grandparents lived.

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