Do you have a special meeting place when you have a family reunion?
I traveled to Sunriver, Oregon for a week of family time with 2 of my brothers, my parents, and my cousin as we try to keep up the tradition of a family reunion. Or what remains of our family reunion in Oregon.
I flew out to Oregon with my daughter Samantha as my traveling companion ( the only family member who could make this trip.)
It’s getting harder to gather my family together for our traditional family reunion that began in 1992.
This is my 15th trip and I don’t know how many more I will be making. The reality is my parents are in their 80’s and time is not on their side.
We gather to spend quality time with my parents but
it’s getting harder to organize a biennial trip for my extended family.
My brothers and I live in different states and my uncle and cousins struggle to reconnect as a family.
Gathering the Wakefield clan began in Sunriver ( planned residential and resort community) as a biennial reunion because we didn’t live near each other. My grandmother,uncle, and aunt lived in Oregon so it made it easier for them to travel to the family reunion.
My father had a vacation home in Sunriver and my brothers and I rented surrounding homes to hold our large group.
Sunriver is a resort community and has so much to offer us as a large extended family.
Lots of activities and things you can do as a large group.
We rode our bikes on the trails…..
We took the children when they were little to the stables to ride the ponies. They also offer horseback riding on the trails too.
We went rafting on the Deschutes river in Sunriver as a family .
As the children got older we switched to canoeing….
Which may not have been a good idea….
We always selected a Saturday to hold the biennial family picnic at the local park. (This was easy for the families that didn’t stay at Sunriver but joined us for the picnic.)
What made Sunriver an ideal spot for the reunion was the climate (high desert- cold nights and hot days) which made it perfect for outdoor activities we could enjoy as a family.
My grandmother is surrounded by her children in 2000. Below is a majority of the Wakefields minus my brother Todd’s family. This was the last time Grandma Wilma would be surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She passed away in 2001.
The last time my entire family was together for a family reunion was in 2008. It was easier when our children were little and had the summer off to enjoy their cousins and the fun family activities we did in Sunriver.
My parents are surrounded by most of their grandchildren. We are missing our daughter Lisa and our nephew Bryan who were in college .
Now it’s a sprinkling of siblings and my cousin Sydney who made the reunion this year..
Life has gotten in the way of the Wakefield clan and it’s to no one’s fault that we have not kept this family reunion going. It is very hard to schedule a reunion when the majority of the family have to travel great distances to get to Sunriver.
My aunt passed away last year and my uncle and his family have not attended the reunion since 2005.
Our children are adults and now have careers that prohibit them from coming.
So the reunion or the act of having a reunion is slowly dying , but I return to this place filled with memories from yesterday but to also gather photos and memories my grandmother had kept in boxes labeled, “Do not throw away”, which my aunt and cousin had honored. (The photos with her in them were found in this box.)
Gone are the days where we gathered on a golf course in Sunriver for a family tournament. The winning foursome took home a pine cone. We held the last golf tournament in 2008.
Or riding the rapids on the Deschutes River outside of Bend, Oregon. (We only looked like we knew what we’re doing. The river guide really did all the work.)
The family fishing trip is now a faded memory now, but so much laughter and fish were shared in 2008!
Our boys and their cousins enjoyed fishing on the river.
We had boys who touched the fish…..
And the boys who did not….
Gone but not forgotten..
The family had a ritual in the morning of walking ( 4.5 miles round trip) to the village for coffee and pastries. We discussed family matters and current events but never politics on the walks. (We are a divided political family and avoid the topic as much as we can. )
We do not walk to the village anymore because of the aches and pains that go with aging or in my case, my hip is in pain and 4.5 miles means 3 Advils.
But we walk as far as my hip will let me.
We stop now for more pictures and to slow down the pace.
The laughter we share as a family when we are together and the beauty of Oregon is what makes this reunion so special.
My family loves to play pranks on each other.
Below : My brother thought I was taking his photo but I was doing a selfie. Couldn’t stop laughing..
My brother Todd had us looking at our nails when we posed for pictures. Don’t ask me why, it’s an inside joke.
I have always loved coming to Sunriver in the summer to get away from the heat and humidity of the Atlanta summers. Dry crisp air and cold mornings are so refreshing!
I do not know when I will return again or who will join me here, (my children would love to join me in Sunriver, but scheduling vacation time has been difficult).
I have taken away new memories, learned things I didn’t know before( my grandfather had German POWs working on his farm after WWII) all because I came this week.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope you share memories, love, and laughter with your family and extended family whenever you can.
Enjoy this video and see why we love coming to Sunriver!!
The blue dress and jewelry are from West of the Moon in Sunriver.
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