Several years ago my Aunt Jo said there were two things she wanted to do before she died; see Jill get married and tour the William Clinton Presidential Library. I could understand the first, but questioned the second. She has lived in Little Rock most of her life, so maybe that was it. Mom used to say in polite circles, it’s always safe to avoid politics. I considered that situation a polite circle.
A couple of years after Jill’s wedding, the Clinton Library opened. Aunt Jo said it would be perfect if Jill, David, Jim and I would go with my uncle and her to tour the library. So we did. I reminded David and Jill about the polite circle thing. Political persuasion aside, it was interesting and crammed full of history and Aunt Jo was thrilled. She must have reset her list of things she wants to do before she dies. She’s still here.
After wandering for about an hour we noticed person after person wearing egg-yolk-yellow T-shirts with black lettering; Brown Family Reunion. They were everywhere. We laughed knowing a Brawner family reunion would never make it to a presidential library. Family reunion for us translates into water activity.
Late one August, Jim’s parents, sister, two brothers, and their families met at our house for a reunion. Twenty Brawners anywhere is wild, but all under one roof for 4 days was a little out of control. We didn’t assign bedrooms or even beds, but floor space.
The third day we spent on Lake Taneycomo. Normal people trout fish in the 48 degree lake water, but we had a ski boat and water weenie set for the afternoon. Five of the kids rode first. Even with our black Labrador Retriever propped on the front, there were no wipeouts.
Up next: Grannie, PawPaw, Jim’s sister, Janet, Jerry’s wife, Rayanna and me on the back. We were all doing fine until Jim and Jerry got a little cocky with the boat driving. I could understand if it was just the girls, but good grief, their 70 year old parents were riding too.
Heading back to shore the last turn was just enough too sharp and fast to cause a slow motion tump-over. In unison all five of us screamed NOOOOO as we, like the peal of a chorus line, one-by-one fell into the stinging cold water. The normally sweet and soft-spoken Janet came to the surface and yelled one, very loud expletive, PawPaw was scrambling to rescue his dentures before they sank, and Grannie said she was swimming for the curb. Rayanna and I were laughing that laugh so hard you don’t make any noise.
I think it shocked Jim and Jerry they had actually dumped their parents into the ice cold lake. The guys helped Grannie and PawPaw in to the boat first, apologizing over and over. Janet got in, punched her brothers, threatening to do things to them that could land her in jail. Rayanna and I were still laughing.
That night we grilled steaks and heard the water weenie incident retold from those who had watched from the shore. Of course it grew with each reenactment. PawPaw listened intently, smiling, proud to have saved his dentures. Obviously we don’t need a museum or library or matching yellow shirts for an outstanding family reunion.