In my last column, I wrote about my upcoming 60th Taylor Family Reunion and how I hoped it would be the most memorable yet. Well, that it was. But not for the reasons any of us had hoped.
The weekend got off to a great start.
Saturday comes and the set up looks beautiful. The big tent with all the chairs looked so nice and everyone appeared to have a good time. We did run out of food, but it at least lasted during the designated serving time.
My Aunt Lane led roll call as she does every year.
When she got to the Darden’s, I wasn’t sure what our talent was going to be. We usually have a few praise dancers, but this year my cousins performed a rap.
Each verse spoke about reunion preparations and shouted out various aunts, uncles and cousins. I was pleasantly surprised and I think the crowd was too.
Besides the food, Saturday was pretty perfect.
As for Sunday, it started off well.
Everyone looked so good in our royal blue reunion shirts. The Darden’s had to add a little extra and coordinate ripped blue jean shorts too.
Once we finally got the kids to let us set up the carnival games, those were a success too…for about an hour.
I had just gotten in the snow cone line with plans to head to the popcorn line next when I felt a rain drop.
Quickly the light drops turned into heavy drops and we were all forced to run under the shed. My aunts managed to gather most of the carnival games and I’m glad they did.
What I thought was going to be a five minute shower ended up being a little over an hour of rain, which was growing more aggressive by the minute.
The clouds got darker and the wind picked up. Once I heard what sounded like hail, it hit me that we were in a real storm.
It wasn’t hail, just pine cones hitting the shed.
But either way, you could see the concern growing on everyone’s faces.
It’s one thing to be in your house during a storm/tornado. But to be outside in a pasture during one is completely different.
Once the tent went flying up in the air, I knew we were in trouble.
Babies started crying, people couldn’t find their children and no one had cellular service.
Once all the raining finally stopped, there was a sense of relief.
But we still had to get out of the pasture.
My uncle and cousins had gone home right before the storm hit. Their house is right up the street.
Once it was over, they came racing to our rescue. My Uncle Tony drove my mom’s car and my cousins took over my aunts’ cars.
On their way back to us, trees were falling inches away from their car. They got out, moved the trees and kept going. By doing that, they also helped people who were leaving the pasture.
They were like our knights in shining armor.
While we were making a way out of the pasture, my aunt got a call saying there was a tree that was about to land on my car. I had my keys, which meant we would have to race to her house and move it.
The storm hit several places pretty badly and had highways and roads backed up or shut down altogether. Luckily, my Uncle Tony knew the back roads.
But it still turned a 10-minute drive into a 45-minute trek across the city. And to make matters worse, there was a tree blocking the road as soon as we turned into my aunt’s neighborhood.
So my uncle and I parked my mom’s car and walked to my aunt’s house. I moved my car in time and all was well.
Well kind of.
The neighborhood’s power was out and we later found out a few of my cousins were injured during the storm. One cousin broke a few ribs, another broke her nose and one sprained her ankle.
It was like something out of a movie. But Thank God everyone made it out with no life-threatening injuries.
For the rest of the day, we were all pretty shaken up. But the next day we returned to the pasture to join hands in prayer and thank God for keeping us.
We also moved Monday’s festivities, which are normally at my aunt’s house, to the pasture. We didn’t have her pool or sand court, but with no power, we just needed to get rid of the food before it spoiled.
That Monday ended up being what Sunday afternoon should have been: kids playing, everyone fellowshipping and eating, but most importantly lots of love.
We headed back that Monday night. By Tuesday around noon, a local station was interviewing my aunt about what happened at our reunion.
Ironically, I was in charge of securing media coverage of our 60th reunion.
I had called the Longview News-Journal and told them about the reunion and hoped they would cover it. But I never heard back from them.
I was intending to reach out to local news stations too, but never got around to it.
It’s funny how God works.
All in all, the Taylor Family Reunion was epic as usual.
It wasn’t quite the reunion experience we were all hoping for, but Taylor love was flowing all throughout that Taylor land. And even a natural disaster couldn’t stop it.
Jasmine C. Johnson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.