When I was in college, my uncle Len died of cancer. He was my Dad’s older brother. Almost everyone called him Bunny.
Side note: In his last hours of life, I was participating in the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, an amazing 36 hour student-led event where I went to college. I was helping to raise money for families who were dealing with cancer at the exact time he was dying from cancer. There was a message on my answering machine when I got back to my dorm room from my parents. I knew what they were calling about. I have always felt blessed to have the timing work out that way.
After Bunny died, my family began to meet each year in their hometown of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota as a kind of remembrance. The first few years we participated as a family in the Relay for Life event held overnight at the local high school track. Luminaries would be lit around the track honoring those who had lost their lives to cancer. It was very powerful.
Then someone had an idea to do something different -- a golf outing. This summer, we had the 19th annual “Bunny Open”.
The family reunion always begins on Friday evening for a potluck. For years we would gather at Tom and Mary’s farmhouse. When games were played, “country rules” were always in affect. Now we meet at the RV park where Gary and Donna stay. Most of the time is spent eating and catching up with the goings ons of everyone. Simple family fun.
The golf outing the next morning is not too serious. We only play 9 holes. Most of us do not golf much. In fact, for some, the only time they have ever golfed in their life has been for this event. It is possible that some of the clubs used during the event are older than me.
My dad and Uncle Bob do a good job organizing it. It is a best-ball format and there are hole prizes and everything. We get a golf ball and tees each year emblazoned with “Bunny Open” and the date. After the round, many of those who didn’t golf gather for a simple lunch before everyone goes on their way.
It is a great time to get together and remember. Others have passed on over the years. Bunny’s wife Carol died seven years after him. Then Vi… Then 6 year old Timmy… Then Tom... recently Dianne passed. It is called the Bunny Open, but we remember all of them during the event.
We will continue to meet and share memories in the years to come. It is an important tradition in our family.
Wealth is not just about money. THIS is also wealth.
Family traditions are wealth!
I take comfort in knowing that if I became completely broke tomorrow, I would still be wealthy. I have a strong church community, a great neighborhood, close friends, and a close-knit extended family.
As my Dad’s generation gets older, it will be interesting to see how my generation continues this and other traditions like these. It becomes easy to allow each of our busy lives to get in the way of keeping the family traditions going. And as more family members move greater distances away from the event, it can be difficult.
It will be our job to maintain traditions or come up with new ones. Continuing the opportunities to spend time together and committing ourselves for family bonding time is crucial.
What family traditions do you have? What family traditions can you begin?