It’s hard to imagine that when, 22 years ago in May 1999, Jann’s father said “I don’t want this family to loose each other” as we sat in the living room of his brother Leval’s home in Salem, Indiana (his last living sibling). We had just left Uncle Leval/Grandpa’s Memorial Service – and we were all feeling a bit lost and the beginnings of adrift at sea. “The Farm” with Uncle Leval & Aunt Mary had been where we had ALL gone when we needed to “go home” and now they were all gone – first the farm, then Aunt Mary and now Uncle Leval. It was the farm that our collective great-grandfather had cleared and the anchor we had all clung to all our lives.
But, God does work in mysterious ways! Her Dad’s proclamation included not only what he didn’t want but what he did – a reunion to be held the following June, on Father’s Day, at Shirley Ratts’ Home in Memphis, TN! As we all sat in shock, Shirley “kind of” nodded yes – and the Ratts Reunion was born!
Now 22 years later, we have connected in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee – some multiple times and some multiple places. We’ve grown and we’ve aged – we’ve lost and we’ve added – the circle of Ratts just keeps getting bigger and crazier!
Leslie and Pam Ratts Cooper hosted this rowdy bunch at their Little Slice of Heaven on the White River near Norfork/Mountain Home, Arkansas – the first time eight years ago and again this Father’s Day Weekend 2021. We have grown from ~17 people that year to 35 this year! We had 7 that hadn’t been able to attend in close to 10 years and 11 that attended two years ago but unable to do so this year, so it is an ever-changing group. As always, it was a bit like herding feral cats.
The Ozark Folk Center is very well done – and deserved a full day, but the Brewery called us!
Saturday was “on the White River” – and with temperatures in the upper 90’s, even the frigid water temperatures were welcome!
After an exhausting day in the sun, Riverside Retreat (one of four properties housing the reunion) provided a wonderful environment for our final evening of cookout, conversation, laughter, games and sharing.
With many hugs and memories made, we bid each other “God Speed” on Sunday morning (some departed VERY early) – with prayers for safe travel and excitement for a Ratts Reunion 2023 in Dodge City, Kansas!
The Captain & The Admiral hitched The Toad to Contessa a day earlier than planned and headed to Branson, Missouri on Sunday about 11:00a. She had been in a prime location on Pam & Leslie’s property, but rain was forecasted for Sunday night & Monday. We did not want to risk having a 45,000 lb vehicle sink into the lovely lawn!
It turned out to be an extremely positive decision! Details in the next entry!