October 10, 2012

My Point Is...Cherishing old memories, making new ones

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A week off work during the second week of October is highlighted by my family reunion this week.

The Miller Family Reunion is always one that I look forward to each October, a time when I can visit with family not often seen during the remainder of the year.

As the sole descendant of Ida Miller Hedrick who resides locally, I am usually also the sole family member who attends the event, since other family members live out of town and/or out of state and frequently cannot attend the festivities. Of course, Hannah is always with me and gets even more excited about the event than I do.

“I love the Miller Reunion,” she says, although as my stepson’s daughter, she is really not any ‘blood’ relation, but is accepted as part of the family as much as anyone else.

Hannah has made friends with many of the children and grandchildren with whom I shared special times during my own youth. I often spent a week or so in Deer Park, Ohio with Bob and Evelyn Miller and their girls and made friends with their friends. Going to church growing up always meant seeing Charles and Jimmie Miller, and to this day, I’ve never seen anyone who can get the crowd singing in the manner that Charles Miller can do. Jimmie and his family were always special and remain so to this day.

Long prior to Interstate 75, I recall visiting Bill and Eunice Miller’s home on the Boggs property on Ky. 192, a large house with a huge weeping willow tree in the front yard where we often played. Later on, Bill pastored a church in Clay County and I visited their home there, as well as spending many weekends at his home in Nancy, Ky. With six kids--three of whom were within my age group--there was no lack of company at Bill Miller’s house! Between those six children, the last count of the descendants numbered more than 100 people, which I’m anxious to learn if that has increased over the past year.

As a child, I can remember visiting my Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Barbara and going to visit Ed and Sue Caldwell. Sue was the only female child of Elbert and Vada Miller and she and my mother were always close, although Sue was also a close friend of Aunt Barbara.

During my teen years when Jack and Gerry Miller would drive over for church at Sinking Creek, I would often go home with them to spend time with their daughter Karen, or she would come and stay with me between Sunday morning services, then go back home with her parents after Sunday night services.

With my grandmother and Uncle Elbert being the two of four children who remained in the London area, it was inevitable that I would know that side of the family more personally than Mammaw’s other two brothers and their families.

However, the beginning of the Miller Reunion--started unfortunately after the four ‘original’ Miller descendants had already passed away--has brought the family together and I’m so lucky to have established a relationship with the other cousins in my family--Uncle Delbert’s children and grandchildren and Uncle Albert’s two sons and their families.

The reunion planning has changed hands over the 24 years since it began, but the activities have continued to grow and envelop those family members who want to participate in the yearly event. Each year, we shed a few tears for those who are no longer with us--even since the last reunion--but we continue on with the family gatherings out of respect for loved ones gone and  in love for those still with us.

It is a time when we can reminisce about times and people past, but also a time when we can rejoice in having the opportunity to make new memories and have connections between the upcoming generations.

Family, fun and food, combined with memories old and new--it all comprises a celebration of love and life that should define every family.