Every two years we have a family reunion. Last weekend our reunion was in honor of my 90-year-old mother (soon to be 91). As her only daughter, I offered to organize the event here in Reno, Nevada. Invitations went out in early spring. Tentative hotel room reservations were made several months ago. One of our three sons offered his home for the catered reunion party. With everything scheduled, we were ready to party. Well, almost.
A few of the guests couldn’t confirm due to health or work issues, so hotel room bookings were still up in the air until check-in time. My parents live 500 miles from Reno. My stepfather refuses to fly or take the train. Although they’ve driven that long distance in the past (as recent as last May), hubby and I decided go down to Oceanside and drive them back to Reno. We’d have a few relaxing days near the ocean before emerging ourselves in family affairs and the drama that usually goes with it. The trip went off without a hitch. We arrived with my parents at the hotel the day before the out-of-town family members were due to converge on the scene.
On opening day of the reunion, before anyone had arrived, my cell phone crashed. All my personal contact numbers and the eight room hotel confirmations were now being held hostage inside a dead phone. My aunt, three cousins, and a niece were flying and driving from Oregon. More nieces, nephews, and cousins were driving up from Southern California. My brother from as far away as Florida. Everyone had prior instructions to call or text me. Not gonna happen on a dead cell phone (what the hell did we do before cell phones?).
What to do? Bob and I took a position in the lobby bar where the incoming would have to pass by sooner or later. By five that afternoon, everyone was accounted for and checked into their respective rooms—dog and all.
Let the festivities begin!
The first night our entire family gathered in a hospitality room on the 21st floor to catch up over drinks and pizza. The eight kids went off to the indoor swimming pool only to return a few minutes later when the hotel had to shut down the pool because of a Code Brown (that’s code for—well, I think you get the picture). At 7 p.m., the noise-level with forty-plus people trying to be heard over each other brought complaints from the room across the hall. Security came knocking at our door twice with threats to throw everyone out if we didn’t quiet down. For crimminysake, this was a hospitality room in a casino/hotel and it was only 7 o’clock. Really?
The next morning, before doing anything, I drove across town to the nearest Apple Store where I received a new iPhone. Miracle of miracles, the Apple Store experience took less than 20 minutes. Thank you, David Mac Genius. Now I was ‘connected’ again. Looking back on it, I think the dead phone was a blessing in disguise. For the next two days, it didn’t stop beeping, ringing, and chiming.
We needed wheelchairs for my 83-year-old aunt and my mother for the long walk to the hospitality room. Unfortunately, a convention of retired government workers checked in the same day and had promptly snagged all the hotel wheelchairs. When my mother finally got a wheelchair, it was a doublewide, designed for a very large person. She had to sit on a pillow because the crisscrossed bars under the seat cut into her bottom.
This is where it gets fun. Meeting in a hospitality room in the hotel was a cinch. However, trying to get twenty people and a dog together to caravan from the hotel to our son’s house was another matter. The instructions were to meet in the lobby bar a 5:30 p.m. At the designated time, all but one family was present. No sooner did they arrive, than someone slipped away to the restroom. Then another slipped away. Another went to get his car to join the caravan at the valet parking area, and got lost. Honestly, herding cats would have been easier. Finally, we piled into the cars and caravanned to Rob’s house. The party, with catered Mexican food, was a huge success. Perfect weather enhanced by a gorgeous view of the city for our forty family members. The only mishap was when my mother fell on the back steps. No broken hip, thank goodness, just a slightly skinned elbow.
I hope to have many more family reunions over the coming years. My mother, a fifth generation grandmother, will probably be too frail to make it up to Reno for the next reunion. So it looks like we’ll be heading to beautiful Oceanside in 2014. Hey, I can live with that.