My Ohio Family

Growing up in southern Indiana meant traveling to Amish Country Ohio to see my mom’s family. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and of course Grandma and Grandpa Yoder. Growing up in Indiana also meant weekend visitors in the form of all those mentioned. Whether we were in Indiana or Ohio, when we were together we had a fine time that was not soon forgotten.

I have good memories of going to Ohio for weekends. There were always get-togethers in someone’s backyard, a cabin or a park. After much good food, the old(er) ones would sit and talk while the young ones played old gray wolf or kick the can. Cousins were the best playmates and after we had worn ourselves out we would lie in the grass and catch fireflies after dark.

As we got older, married, and moved around, our times together grew less. We got together on occasions, but it was never long enough. Talk kept circling about having an actual reunion, but it just never happened.

And then Tristan died.

Our cousins came through the line at his viewing and said, “We knew him, but we hadn’t seen him much the last few years, we feel like we really didn’t know him well anymore.” I hated that they missed that part of his life after spending so much time together growing up. They missed the years of him with his wife and kids and knowing his big heart and laughing conversations.

So, when I heard talk about getting together for a weekend, I was happy.
And a good weekend it was.

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There was a host of conversations, catching up on life, renewing friendships, amazement at children grown up and new babies to meet.
Lots of memories were discussed and laughed over. Early morning wake up calls with Aunt Irene, sleeping in Grandma’s basement, cookie baking days, visiting Grandpa in the nursing home and much more. We listened to the Aunts and Uncles recall memories from when they were young and all that happened back in their days. The conversations were rich and full of life.

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We have spread around from here to there across the globe so there were immediate families reuniting and much catching up to do. There were only a few missing and miss them we did.

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The children had a blast. Train rides, bounce houses and games galore, they were never lacking for something to do.

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Dave’s children went all out with the games. There was something for everyone and much, much laughter from everyone watching.

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There were two teams and one person from each team competed against each other to see who completed each task the fastest.

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The kids and big kids rolled and bounced around in these things for hours.
I heard tell that it made for some very sore muscles the next few days.

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In between all the activities, there was a constant display of food. If there is one thing I missed from the Yoder gene pool, it would be the love of all things chocolate. Madison made chocolate cupcakes filled with chocolate mousse and frosted with chocolate ganache. They were well received.

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Family, the ones you grow up with, share laughter and sorrow, heart and soul, and a bond of memories. No matter where you live or how long it’s been, when you gather again, the bond is still there.

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On Saturday night we scrolled through a huge assortment of photos my cousin Melody put together. It spanned the time from Grandpa at CPS to the youngest of the grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

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It was a great weekend, but we missed Tristan fiercely. He would have loved it, the conversations, the games, reuniting with family and just being a part of it all. He would have been the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night, I am sure. I missed him all weekend.

If you have family, gather them together and spend time with each other.
They are a blessings many do not have.

A Tribute to Grandpa Miller

On October 5, Eric’s grandpa passed away due to failing health.
Today is the first anniversary Grandma will spend alone in 61 years.

In the days before his funeral, I asked his children and grandchildren for their memories and compiled them into a tribute to him.  

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A Tribute to the Father of the Millers

A Husband, a Father, a Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, a Brother, and Uncle was he.
He answered to Emanuel, Manuel, Dad, Dawdy, Candy Dawdy,
Grandpa, Candy Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and Crist Joe Ale‘s Manuel.

A farmer by trade for years of his life, corn, hay, his fields and the price of beans.
Dairy and milking, silage and cows, his boys kept him company while he worked.
A daughter or two, by his side in the barn, laughing and singing with the cows.
With a son on the tractor, another in the barn, one working the hay,
and a few out back in the woods, he managed and called and directed them all.
Out through the window, his wife called his name and he gathered the boys for a meal.
Around the old kitchen table, they clambered and fought for good food,
stories of the day, laughter, and chatter all part of the meal.
After they had eaten he would pick up his Bible, in a voice filled with care,
he read from the Word, directing the hearts of his young.
A good game of softball in the soft evening light,
out by the flower garden spot, completed the day.

His children grew up and blessed him with grandchildren aplenty running ‘round.
They came down to the farm for visits, some food, and a story while he sat in his chair.
He would pull out pink candy from a pocket or two, and sneak it to little hands waiting.
Always the same kind, soon the candy was renamed after him,
affectionately known as “Dawdy Candy” which in turn named him, Candy-Dawdy.
On auction day, he would pick up excited grandchildren and take them along to the Mt. Hope sale barn. There was always time for a stop for lunch
at Mrs. Yoder’s or Boyd & Wurthmann in hopes of meeting a friend or relative.
He set the grandchildren to work, driving through fields and picking up rocks,
plenty of help for his hands. When milking time came, they followed along,
sipping milk from the bulk tank and shoveling feed for the cows.
The highlight of his week was a trip to the ball field on Monday nights.
He loved to watch his sons and grandsons swing for the fence.
When the grandchildren grew up, he enjoyed their visits anew.
Reminiscing of old was a favorite of his, those stories that he told and retold.

The day finally came that the cows had to go, other odd jobs took their place.
He would climb in his car and putter on down to host at Miller’s Essenplatz.
He visited with and seated all the people, while he chuckled and nodded replies.
When they smiled and waved on their way out the door, he would turn and reply
in his signature Dutch-accented call, “Thank-You-ah!
After everyone was gone and things quieted down, off to the back he would sneak
for his late night bowl of ice-cream, much to his wife’s dismay.

As life slowed him down, the cold Ohio winters drove him down to sunny Pinecraft.
It was months of vacation, lots of friends, a chat and a meal,
a run to the park in hopes of a friendly face to visit with.
Genealogy was his love and he knew people from far and wide,
he also knew exactly how everyone was related and to whom.
If he happened to come across a new face or two, get ready for the questions to fly.
“Now who did you say was your Dad? And your Mom’s maiden name was what?”
Before any time passed, he had them figured out and most likely they were related
to him, or at least to someone he knew.
Grandma would make donuts and coffee on cool southern mornings
and all the people would come. He chatted and reminisced, told old stories anew,
but all the while kept an eye on those donuts
and knew exactly how many were consumed and by whom.
Out for a meal in the evening with family, was something he loved to do.
His Florida favorite was Mi Tierra with fish on his platter, eyes staring back at him.
Spring would roll around and soon the North beckoned,
family and friends and his farm ground awaited him there.

Camping in the fall was a love of his with his family gathered ‘round.
He loved to sit and watch all the action, and then sternly call some command.
A crowd was usually gathered around his boys,
listening to them rehearse the old stories while everyone laughed.
He would smile and chuckle and try to add his own thoughts.
When the telling got tall with the stories of his, when all the things he had said
grew larger and funnier with time, he would silently laugh and say, “Help mich, Clarie!”
Little help she was while she giggled and shook, loving every memory she heard.
When late night fires blazed hot, guitars would start strumming
and the people would gather around singing songs of old he so loved.
In a voice all quivering with tears, he would hold up his hand and try to speak
the things that were deep in his heart.

As time moved on, age took its toll, his back stooped, bent by years of labor.
His hands were worn by the toil of the land, his eyesight slowly fading,
and his feet in a shuffle as he walked, life was coming to a close.
Yet, he had a heart full of love and a smile on his face for his wife, family, and friends.
Though his mind not as sharp the last years, that first love he had, still remained.
Holding his well-worn Bible near, with a tear-filled voice he stood often in church,
thanking his Jesus for all He had done.

While we miss him here, we rejoice with joy that He walks on streets of pure gold.
He is singing his songs and praising His Savior, perfectly healed today.
He leaves behind a legacy, a heritage, not soon forgotten, rich in love, family, and Jesus.

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This was last year at their anniversary celebration,
a few more have been added since.

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