Monday, April 23, 2012

Up, Up with Updikes!

40 of 42 living grandchildren attended the funeral.
We missed you, Mary, Lisa, and Andrew!

This last weekend, my very large extended Updike family celebrated the 92 years of of my grandmother's life at her funeral.  

Hers was not a perfect life or marriage, but she left a legacy of faith that has blessed the lives of her posterity--now numbering 130 persons in total (7 children, 45 grandchildren, and 78 great grandchildren - and seven more on the way!). 

On the six-hour plane ride to Phoenix from JFK, I told the young man sitting across the aisle from me what I would be doing in Phoenix.  He was astounded by the numbers of my family, and asked if I could name all of my cousins.  "Name them?"  I said, "I know them!"  

My family grew up - on both sides (my mother is one of 10, my father one of 7) - rather close.  We had family reunions on a yearly basis--usually beach or mountain campouts, and I came to know and love my many family members.  The only sleepovers I was able to attend were those put on by my Aunt Nancy for the girl cousins, complete with fashion shows, sewing lessons, pool parties, making our own pizzas and shakes, and recording what we wanted to be when we grew up (I think I said Mary Poppins because she was "practically perfect in every way"?).  I had play groups with my cousin, Ben.  My Uncle Paul had monthly cousins get-togethers for those who were reading the Book of Mormon on a daily basis, and we had extended-family Family Home Evenings in Mesa once a month, too.  Then there were semi-annual General Conference meetings at the Seagull Monument at Temple Square and debriefings after priesthood session over amazing rolls at Aunt Janet's home. 

As a young missionary in Australia, I would often think of what kind of missionaries my cousins David or Lisle or Russell or Jordan or Nathan were - how would they have approached situations and dealt with disobedient missionaries (yes, it happens)?  

Over the course of the weekend as I renewed relationships, I realized that much of who I am has been shaped by these familial ties, and that bigger families meant more love and friendships.  Too, it was a community in which my faith could grow and develop - countless family prayers, testimony meetings, blessings and missionary farewells and temple marriages - provided a web of faith that cultivated my own.  Thanks, grandma, for making that all possible by instilling in your children (crazy as they are!) a firm commitment to their faith and the proclivity to procreate!

Within a year of my birth, five of my father's siblings had children.  Any one get a better shot?
I love these cousins! 

Grandma and Grandpa Updike

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