Family picture

FOR MANY PEOPLE, a family reunion and a mother-in-law have a couple of things in common. Their arrival is dreaded, and they must be endured. I can’t fully express how eternally glad and grateful I am that neither condition is the case with me. For thirty years now, I have had a mother-in-law who I count to be one of my best and closest friends. Knowing and loving her has enriched my life. But she is not the subject of this post. We’ll save that subject for another day, not long from now. .

Rachel with camera

For fifty-plus years (yeah, you see what I did there) I’ve been a member of a family, on my mother’s side, whose ranks have swelled to over one hundred folks.

Roy & Susie

It started, as families always do, with two people: my grandparents, Roy T. and Susie Denman. And there is plenty of evidence that, even on their worst days, they were the stuff of legend and fable.

Roy & Susie in boat

They came from a generation when there were many great souls who were part of the backbone of America that made her strong—upon which much moral fiber, and sinew, and heart were laid.

Denman girls

Roy and Susie had four daughters: Olie, Helen, Janie, and Dorothy.

Olie & Helen

Two of them remain—Olie is the youngest and Helen, my mother, is the eldest. The girls all grew up being very close. They loved to play, loved to laugh, and loved to sing together. They were taught well to love each other and to pass that on to their children …

The cousins

… eleven cousins who love each other dearly to this day. Their descendants are a diverse lot. As with any large family, there are many differences and many opinions.

Susan & Kathy
Jeremy preaching

But the ties that bind us even now are strong ones, and there is a cord of unity in our conviction that we are the heirs of a great heritage of faith, of character, and a commitment to love each other.

Bobbie & Becky

That love and faithful kinship has been a truly strengthening element in our lives across the years.

Many of the children of those first cousins—the second cousins …

Stephen & Kathryn
Meagan and cousins
Row of second cousins
Lola et al

… count each other as dear and close friends, and several of them stay in touch throughout the year.

So when that generation insisted that the family reunion be more often, not less often, how could we say no?

My cousin Becky and her husband George Freeman hosted it again at their lovely property, Kutsunugi, on beautiful Lake Granbury in Texas.

George & Becky
Big cloud
Red canoe
Lake view

See what I mean?

We came from Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee, to join the others in our home state.

Sunday morning

Our ages ranged from one …

Evelyn and Mac
Helen & Josie at computer

… to ninety-four,


with more on the way.

We filled up the weekend with games …

Hanna & Alex at Jingo
Dominoes with Ben
Ronnie & Luin
Game table
corn toss 1
corn toss 2

and visiting—lots of visiting …

Barbara, Aaron, Susie, Jeremy
Guys visiting
Mark and Hopper
Carla. Emma. Jay
Visiting with Ben
yard sale visiting

and …

Canoe guys
Tom asleep

… other activities of choice;

with laughter …

Blessing on Evelyn
kids in hammock
Pouty moms

(or not),




(including the ubiquitous barbershop tags),

pictures …

Stephan with camera
Harris with camera
Rachel with camera
Jeremy with camera
Jonathan with camera
Evelyn photo

… and food.

Food table
Sally's kids

Our clan’s contribution to the weekend menu was these babies. Seventy-five of them. Easy, delicious, satisfying. I’ve had some recipe requests from the family, so tomorrow I’ll post the recipe with pictures.

Family picture

We had planned a group picture for just before lunch on Saturday.


It should come as no surprise that this was exactly the time, and the only time, that it rained over the span of three days. #murpheyslaw. #intrepidDenmanfamily. And it lasted just long enough for us to get the picture. I’m not kidding.

Evelyn & ball
Keifor Tom Lola
Kate and Mac

The beautiful October weekend was just so full of multi-generational love, I’m still basking in the glow of it.

We missed you! Leck and Cynthia; Jeff, Michelle, Cailey, and Abby; Martha; Andrew and Ashley; Ryan and Sarah

Photo credits: Jonathan, David, Jeremy, Molly, and me