It goes without saying that no one wants to have a heart attack. Such a frightening experience indelibly marks us in many ways. But cardiac events, as they call them, drive home two important truths: a healthy diet and exercise are critical to life and we need to savor every moment and treasure every person in our lives.
Around here, one opportunity we have to cherish our loved ones is our annual Donofrio family reunion. Late this summer, dozens of relatives hauled folding chairs and picnic coolers bursting with sandwiches, salads and snacks to a local lake for the 60-year-old tradition.
My Italian immigrant grandparents, who were married in 1918, had nine children and 35 grandchildren. The family has continued to flourish, with four generations celebrating at the reunion.
Throughout the day, we shared hugs, kisses, food, old stories and many new stories. We wandered from picnic table to picnic table under a shady pavilion, catching up with cousins and more cousins. Later in the day, the dessert table opened up with cakes, cookies, fruit and other desserts.
This year, two video monitors were set up at a table, one displaying family genealogy details, photos and memorabilia and the other featuring old family movies. So many moments were strung together on frames of 8-mm film—baptisms, First Communions, birthdays, weddings and Christmases of long ago.
At the end of the day, cousins gathered around a blazing bonfire, where we continued to share old stories.
Another moment in time pressed into our memory books.
How do you cherish the special people and times in your life?