Family reunion was definitely bittersweet

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Last Tuesday, I joined the rest of my family in Iowa as we buried my 84-year-old grandfather, Walter Schuver, in a very touching service.

One of the things I will always remember about my grandfather is his love of music, and especially playing his guitar. That is why I was overwhelmed when I was asked to play a few songs on his antique Martin guitar, during Monday’s visitation service.

It was very special for me to get the chance to participate in grandpa’s services in such a meaningful way.

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It was also wonderful to get to see so many members of my extended family, even if it was under bittersweet circumstances. It’s funny, because when I was a kid I always would roll my eyes when a relative would say, “Oh my goodness, look how you’re big you’re getting!” I found myself saying the exact same thing when I saw some of my cousins, a few of whom I haven’t seen in more than five years.

It was also very nice to go back to Iowa one last time. Both of my parents grew up in that state, and I lived there during first and second grade while my dad worked at a newspaper in the small town of Chariton. Every other year of my life has been spent down South, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama and even a summer in Kentucky.

I always like visiting Iowa, because its people remind me a lot of the South and its values. Yes, they might call their caffeinated beverages “pop” and say “you guys” rather than “y’all,” but we also have a lot in common with our Midwestern friends.

Both Alabama and Iowa are full of people who put a lot of emphasis on family and church life, and most of them live simple lives with conservative values. I was absolutely overwhelmed at everything that grandpa’s church parishioners did for our family.

Complete strangers came up and shook my hand and thanked me for playing, or gave a hug to my dad and his siblings. It may not have been “southern hospitality” geographically, but it was definitely in the same spirit.

That being said, I’m definitely glad to be home again. I missed my friends, the beautiful weather, and perhaps most of all … I missed sweet tea!