The smoke has cleared, the dust has settled, and the water is over the proverbial dam. In short, the Hayters have dispersed. Gone back home… all 27 of ‘em. We were expecting 38. As with all family gatherings, you must anticipate over-expecting.
The cause for our latest reunion was a visit by my sister, Susan Hayter-Mayo Mellor. Susan lives in Washington State with her recently espoused husband, Don Mellor. Don is a retired Army Colonel. Full bird. My knowledge of military ranking comes mostly from the TV series MASH. Col. Potter was a Full Bird Colonel, not a Lt. Col., not that there’s anything wrong with that. (This is coming from a guy who lived his entire life completely without rank.)
Susan and Don were widow and widower whose paths crossed through the match-making skills of my nephew CJ. It was a match made in Tacoma, or thereabouts. Sue and Don only dated a few months before knot tying. My understanding is that after watching whatever movie it is that has the song “Can I have this Dance” in it, Don leaned over and whispered in Susan’s ear, “Can I have this dance for the rest of my life?”
Susan immediately said, “Are you asking me to marry you?” Don thought for a second and said, “Uh, oh, is that what—Well, I guess so. Yeah, sure.” He has a sense of humor. And, he’s got such a calm and patient manner about him. I’d peg him as a hostage negotiator before I would an Army Colonel.
Regardless, the two of ‘em got married without clearing it with the rest of the Hayter family. Sidestepped us is what she did. So, after the fact, she flies down with her newly acquired husband so she could… what? What are we supposed to say? -- “Okay, we don’t approve. You can take him back now.”
Turns out, the guy is a real catch. If Susan hadn’t married him, I would’ve matched him up with Jill. Every family can use a Don. Of course, not everyone knew that until we had our family gathering in Conroe. Kay reserved our neighborhood pavilion area where we put on a feed.
The BBQ was catered by our friend Katie Blake-Espinoza, while the family supplied all the sides. Susan and Don just showed up. It just didn’t feel right telling them to make some beans. Besides, they were staying with us, so they would’ve had to use our kitchen. I don’t share the kitchen all that well.
During our outing, the reports on Don started filtering in. I’m pleased to say that the guy passed muster. Not mustard. No one thought to bring any. (Ba, dum, dum.) There was not a negative thing said about the guy. That never happens at a Hayter event. There’s always someone worthy of slander.
No question, Don may have been putting on one convincing act. I thought of that. However, there was nothing about him that indicated he was all that good of an actor. Al could pull it off. In fact, the times he comes across as nice, he’s acting. – (Now, that’s another joke. If it had even a hint of seriousness to it, Big Al would beat me like a back porch rug. And, if Mom were here, she’d let him.)
After eating and congregating at the outdoor pavilion, those who didn’t go home, came over to my house for a continuation of eating and congregating. In the confines of a living room/dining room enclosure, conversation tends to spike at 15 or so decibels. At one point I counted 14 people talking at the same time. Since there were 20 of us, that left only six potential listeners. I was one of the six, yet, chose to be superfluous to any dialog exchange. Some choices are harder than others.
On that particular Saturday, I was in such a good mood that I found the volume of the conversations more comical than aggravating. Prayer has gotten me through some pretty tense moments. Can you imagine how many laughs God has during a typical family gathering? Heaven knows, He’s had many laughs over my exploits.
Well, as of now, it’s all behind us. The family members have returned to their respective homes, and Susan and Don are leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when they’ll be back again… but I’m thinking this time next year.
I consider it one of our better get-togethers. Obviously, Mom and Dad would’ve made it all the better, but the wear of time will cause us all to be missed at some point. For now, we get to accept another soul into our family. Fortunately, Don witnessed us at our near-best. Who knows how his view of his new family will weather time?
By the way, I looked it up. A colonel usually commands a brigade. (3000 to 5000 soldiers) Surely he can put up with a few dozen Hayters… as long as we don’t call him Shirley. – Da, dum, dum.