Wednesday, June 13, 2012

guest blog — runs in the family

today writemuch has its first guest blogger! john mccormick jenkins, my sister's youngest son, is a bit of a writer himself, though he claims not to have written since college. when he asked me what he should write about, i suggested he tell you about our week with all the FAM. i've enjoyed my few days with him before my own kids joined us for our first family beach week in many years. everybody loves john, especially me. we are like spirits. both of us spent the first few months of life crying (though he outgrew it way before i did), and i see bits of myself in him in how he looks at the world. i am honored that he wanted to post on my blog. enjoy! sbr


The last beach trip I can remember was one of the many times I was jealous of my brother. I believe my mom, sister and I had driven to the Outer Banks to meet our family for the annual Byrum Family Reunion. My brother and Dad, on the other hand were driving from Iforgetwhere, hot off one of my brother’s AAU baseball national tournaments. I can't remember if I was jealous i didn't get to commute with the guys, or if it was the actual baseball tournament my brother got to compete in. Most likely, it was that my dad had bought the Cool Runnings soundtrack on cassette tape, and I was imagining them listening the whole drive without me.

john mccormick jenkins with betty jean mcormick byrum
I actually carried some sort of envy for everyone I saw on our regular beach get togethers. I was jealous of my cousins Kip and Kendall for always seeming to have it all together, and I was jealous of my cousin Sam for making not having it together look so fun. I was jealous of my sister Hooks and cousin Meredith for knowing how to make everything fun, and of my brother Jay for just knowing everything. And finally, I was jealous of my cousin Graham, the closest to my age, for not really caring about what our definitely judging (but loving) family thinks about his every move.

This year, we are back together again, for the first family beach trip in a long time and though much has changed, a lot is still the same. There are a lot of similarities between the 8-year-old me and current-day me. Eight-year-old John could make the most of a rainy day by dressing like a robot, pirate, or whatever he felt that day. Yesterday, I must have felt like a rock and roll star. My cousin Sam and I jammed out on our guitars and gave a G-rated performance for our whole family. I think it went well.

A major difference is all of that envy is now transformed into admiration and pride. I am proud of my cousin Kip for still being well put together, this time with an MD behind his name. I am proud of my cousins Kendall and Sam for being amazing parents to their beautiful children. My sister makes just spending time with her in conversation fun.  My brother still knows everything, but I am thankful now he shares his knowledge with me, and we can have pretty funny conversations instead of pretty brutal arguments. My cousin Meredith still bring fun to any day. She arrived today, but I wished she had been here to liven up our rainy day blues yesterday. And again last, my brother-in-age Graham. He does not always express it, but the guy can find humor in anything. Things that rile me up, he just shrugs off. I guess I am still a little jealous of some things.

I could have saved you all a lot of time. Instead of listing all of my cousin’s best attributes, I think I could have just described the reason we are all here. My grandparent’s, B and Pop B will be married 60 years tomorrow. They have a lot more than the characteristics I just listed that not only make them the best grandparents I could ever ask for, but they make all eight of us who we are. I look at Kendall, with her hands on her hips just watching
her daughter LG crawl around and imagine B watching any of her children that very same way. I see Pop B’s thoughtfulness in the proposal my cousin Kip made to his (now fiance) Mad Dog. I also see Pop B’s knowledge mixed with B’s ability of persuasion in Jay. B’s ability to just get stuff done is evident in my sister, who just now interrupted this blogging session to wrangle me to carry the groceries upstairs because they needed to be put away RIGHT NOW. Graham has Pop B’s subtle sense of humor that can infect the whole room with a glance or just a word. When I saw B giggling on the couch during our performance last night, I imagined Meredith wiping the tears from her eyes from a laugh attack. Sam demands the attention of the room without even trying, much like B can do, whether to tell a joke or hold a conversation —when either of them open their mouths, everyone wants to listen.
Along with all of these things, B and Pop B do hold one thing I am an odd mixture of proud/envious about: the secret of finding the one you love and holding on to them the same way on Day One as Day 21,900.

Thanks B and Pop B for always being a great example for your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Any of us will be lucky to live a life even a little similar to y'alls.

writemuch.blogspot is the original work of author susan byrum rountree. all written work and photography is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission of the author.