Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reunion, Day 4: Celebrating

The Sunday of our reunion was my grandfather's big celebration. As I have mentioned in the past, my grandfather was the pastor at Divinity Lutheran Church in Parma Heights, Ohio for many, many years - so many years, in fact, that he earned the title of Pastor Emeritus. This was the church that I grew up in until my family moved to Florida, and although my grandfather retired when I was young, I still have such vivid memories of him in the pulpit of that church. That church is basically a part of our family.

The church seems to feel likewise, and they planned a large celebration in honor of my grandfather's 90th birthday, as well as the seven other members of the congregation who turned 90 this year. Can you believe that? Eight of them!

The 11:00 church service that Sunday was a special service in honor of all eight nonagenarians of the congregation. All were recognized at the beginning of the service. The church also brought back a number of former pastors, all who worked with my grandfather and knew him well. Pastor Connie gave the sermon, and all the hymns were my grandfather's favorites. There was a variety of special music (adult choir, bell choir, soloists), including a performance of "Go Tell It On the Mountain" during communion by my sister, my cousin Adam and my mom. Our family took up three pews at this service and it was just a wonderful way to worship and celebrate together.

The man of the hour!

Our family starting to gather in the pew before church (photo thanks to my mom!)

My mom, Heather and cousin Adam singing during communion

How Ellie spent most of the church service!

Divinity had a professional photographer there to photograph the celebration, and after the service she agreed to take a nice formal portrait of our family for us. We had formal photographs taken many, many years ago (I was maybe five years old?), and needless to say, our family has changed a bit since then. Because it is so rare for us all to be together at once, no exceptions, we decided this was the time to update the family portrait. It was just so great to all be together for such a happy occasion!

After our portrait we joined the catered lunch being held in the fellowship hall. The hall was filled with members of the congregation at long tables, all there to celebrate the each of the 90-year-olds, and my grandfather in particular. Pastor Terry (who was one of the pastors at the church while I was growing up) was the master of ceremonies for the afternoon. He spoke a little about each 90-year-old, and each was given his/her own little birthday cake. Then he called my grandfather up to the front for a "This is Your Life" thing that was very fun.

Celebration in the Fellowship Hall

Artsy pic (stolen from my sister) of the tables!

Pastor Terry and Gramps

Pastor "Pesterman!"

Awww, Jackson is all tuckered out.

Enjoying the lunch with Ellie

Each of the visiting former pastors also spoke about Gramps, and then each of his children and their families was called up to the front to say a little something, too. And then my grandfather said a few words of thanks before ending the luncheon with the benediction.

Uncle Nathan and his family, and Aunt Rachel and hers

Pastor Gramps!

It was really a wonderful celebration, and I'm so proud to be a part of the Hesterman family. I'm so thankful that my Gramps is so loved by the congregation of that church. It was so nice to hear so many people say such wonderful things about him, about how he touched each of their lives and what a wonderful man he is. He has really done a lot of good with his 90 years and he has been such a blessing in the lives of so many. We love you, Gramps!

After the luncheon, we all returned to the house. We snapped a few family photos before changing out of our church clothes.

My family

Sweet Ellie was oh so tired.

Back inside, my mom started telling Ellie what a good girl she was in church, and for some reason Ellie found that hilarious and got quite a fit of the giggles!

That Grammy is so funny!

That smile kills me.

When we changed clothes, we changed all the babies into their Cleveland Indians outfits - even though we couldn't make it to a game this year, that doesn't mean we can't create a nice photo op!


Ellie and Zazi - just a pile of Indians babies on the floor

Ellie and me, Santiago and Molly, Zazi and Zita! A spirited bunch!

She's clearly upset that I have signed her up for a lifetime of disappointment that comes with being a Cleveland sports fan.

Of course, we had to bring Gramps (the biggest Cleveland sports fan I know) in for a few pictures with his Chief Wahoo-sporting great-grandbabies.

Gramps with three of his grandchildren, and their children!

Four generations (Ellie just wants to eat his hand)

Chief Wahoo becomes her.

We spent most of the afternoon relaxing around the house, but later that evening all the young families decided to take the babies to the hotel where most people were staying so the babies could go in the pool.

Jacob, Zazi and Zita

Ellie, Eric and Alex

Molly, Arturo and Santiago

Ellie loves the pool now! She's a pro!

Back at the house, we had leftovers for dinner and - you guessed it - drank wine and watched some Olympics. Fun stuff! However, that night the goodbyes started. My Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark, Adam and Sarah all left that night, and when we finished at the hotel pool we also said goodbye to Jacob, Zita and Zazi, who would be leaving early in the morning. We also said goodbye to Uncle Peter and Rosemary, and Uncle Nathan, Aimee, Alex, Taylor, Henry and Jackson began their return train trip to Idaho around midnight. It's always sad to see these get-togethers winding down!

I still have a few more pictures to share with you from our last morning in Cleveland, so that will be coming up tomorrow!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

How fun, love all the formal family pictures and that dress you(and Ellie too) are wearing :-)