A few years ago I spent time with the men of my mom's side of the clan. Even though the sons-in-law don't carry our last names, we still call it the Osgood and Parker gathering of the men.
I have purposely tagged all of their side of the family with the same middle name as my own, which is Dale. When I greet them I call them by their first and middle names and that includes the women. I think when I first started this it kinda aggravated Aunt Gladys Dale a little because she seemed to show a little discontent at my greeting. That simply reinforced my actions and for the last twenty years or so she has accepted the idea. She also knows that the more she resists, the more it makes me want to aggravate her. She's used to it, though, because she's married to someone who has been aggravating her longer than I have, my Uncle Marvin Dale.
We aggravate, in a joking way of course, the people we love and care about. It's what people do when they are comfortably in love with each other. I have been taught by the best to make life happy. My mom, my dad, Uncle Marvin Dale and many others in our family always like teasing each other.
The patriarch of the family, Marvin Dale, and I do officially carry the same middle name. My Uncle Marvin and I are very similar in personality and actions. We think alike, we look alike, we act alike, we sound a like and we joke around alike.
Over the years of our annual outing at the ranch I have watched the little boys grow into fine young men. Some are married now, some are in college or high school and we will have three or four of the third generation in high school age in the next few years. The deal is, however, we don't have to worry about "toddlers" running around and getting into trouble. At least not yet, but soon I am sure.
This particular year's event however was very different. It seemed more subdued, more grown up, more adult like. Nothing really happened that was over the top or extra ordinary except…well, except… the argument! Now it really wasn't a real argument but it was a discussion between men who had their own very strong views about PR. We made the mistake of bringing up two subjects that men should never discuss in family settings; politics and religion.
All of the men of this family are fairly opinionated. We don't mind speaking our piece. We can also raise our voices and voice our concerns in a very strong manner and that is what occurred while we were all sitting in the front yard one night.
Les, my brother-in-law, brought up the subject about our current president and he also made a statement about a church leader that raised the voice of Uncle Marvin Dale.
Les is a football coach and his actions on the field are enough to give an elephant a heart attack. During game time his voice becomes a megaphone and his face turns tomato red. His adrenaline rushes as he barks commands across the field to his players. I have seen him in action and he makes me tired just watching. Off the field he is a low-talking, easy-going guy. But, get him riled up you will see him once again go into game mode.
One difference between Uncle Marvin Dale and I is that he expresses himself more forcefully and in a quicker fashion than I do. He too can turn red-faced quickly and when his voice begins climbing octaves with each word you know his pot is boiling.
That is what happened the night we began discussing PR. Les made his comments and Uncle Marvin Dale came back with an immediate reply. The exchange of words was being thrown in quick volley and of course I jumped in just to aggravate and agitate. The other men began to chuckle and they too were throwing verbal jabs and comments none of us really believed, but we said them just to throw fuel on the fire. It was fun!
After about twenty minutes the words subsided with a clear understanding that we were all right in our opinions and we were also all wrong. We had a great discussion! In fact it was so good that Uncle Marvin and Les both called me a few days later and told me how much fun they had this year at our gathering.
Yes, we really, really had a great time that year. The coming years will probably continue to involve more talking than physical activities and I'm sure the best years are yet to come. I'm already looking forward to next year.