Friday, September 30, 2011

Tingey Family Reunion

The Tingey Family

Our father, Ralph Lee Tingey, M.D., the patriarch of our clan, died June 6, 2003. Our mother, Margaret Anne Hurst Tingey, went to live with our sister, Judy, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Judy and husband Grant are saints to have taken on the task of caring for her. For twenty years until dad's death, I had visited my parents a half dozen times a year on my trips from Alaska to the "Lower 48". Now that dad was gone, Judy invited us all to have an annual family reunion at her place with our mother.

It made sense, since Mom couldn't travel, and Judy had the condos for us to stay in. Party, party, party. We would arrive Thursday and Friday, have a big day on the beach, then each family would take turns preparing a meal. Judy had it all on a schedule, emailed in advance, but posted on her door. It became a tradition to gather Saturday night on the east shore beach boulders to watch the sunset and take family photos. Then on Saturday, some would go shopping in Truckee or South Tahoe, while others would rent mountain bikes or hike to the top of a peak.

The reunion idea took off, and we enjoyed each other so much, that it has become an annual event, with the cast changing slightly as new grand-children come into the picture, or students, missionaries, or newlyweds miss the event for a year.

I had flown to Portland where I joined my son Thor and wife Sarah on a long mountain-bike and road trip to Lake Tahoe. I posted photos and told the story in my previous post.

This year our niece, Liz, married Jason, who brought his children to meet all the new relatives.
Jason strides by Sarah

Jason and Liz are world travelers: rumor has it that Jason proposed on a hospital bed after a ski accident; then a second time (when not on drugs) in Singapore at a candle-light dinner. Liz has traveled around the world, visiting Nepal, the Far East, and points beyond. Jason works internationally, so they are among the wanderers in the tribe. Our family has two kinds of members: those that bought a home and settled down, and those who wander. Each of my brothers and sisters has a daughter who wanders; my own Daphne is the wanderer in my family. I'm caught in the middle, owning a house in Alaska, but wandering half the year.

I had flown from Anchorage to Portland to visit my son Thor and daughter-in-law Sarah; together we would slowly make our way south, riding the extensive mountain bike trails durning the day, and camping at night. Thor and Sarah were excited to see John and Erica, fellow mountain bike racers and spend a day with them on the trails. On Saturday, Erica had planned to quietly escape for a couple of hours and do a race at the local ski area. Thor and Sarah wanted to watch, so I tagged along for the adventure.
The bike racers: Erica & John

I had no idea that downhill mountain bike riding was so popular. Hundreds of people were dressed in what looked like protective hockey gear, barreling down the mountain trails at high speed. The winter skiing had become summer mountain biking; the movements were the same, only the the toys were different.
John, Kirkham, and Erica at the end of the race

At noon we had planned to meet my cousin, Linda, and her husband Garry at "Burger Me" in Truckee. We were late, so the cousins wandered for an hour. "Burger Me" is a fine establishment, and I'm a connoisseur of fine burgers. I of course selected the basic burger; Thor the most extreme one.
Garry, Linda, Sarah, Thor at Burger Me

On the beach! The sand was warm; the kids were in pig heaven; the adults were like kids. I, with my Alaska tan, sat under an umbrella.
The beach scene

The kids played in the lake, where nephew Will took them crawdad hunting. They came back with a bucket full of the wiggly creatures. Some wanted to eat them for dinner; common sense prevailed, and the little crustaceans were returned to the water and swam back under the rocks.
Kids in the water

Adults mostly talked, but then Tony produced 'Men's Journal' and 'Outside' magazines which made the rounds on the beach.
Sarah into "Men's Journal"

Jim's wife, Teri, brought her daughter Auri and her children. You'd think a family would know all its members, but I hadn't met Auri all these years, so it was such a treat to finally connect.
Auri, Teri's daughter

As we talked, Auri's daughter discovered how to bury the boat pump nozzle in the sand and blow dust into the air. Totally cool!
Kate and Kirkham blow up the sand

Grant had to work on Saturday, hosting the zoning folks. I couldn't believe they hypocrisy of the local zoning commission, which came to visit taking Grant's time to insist on various painting to the buildings and special bushes to screen the condos from the folks recreating on the lake. What I saw was a giant speedboat, painted with flames, powered with two 600 HP engines rocketing across the water in excess of 70 MPH in an ear-piercing motor-head orgasm. I'm not sure the pilot of the boat cared whether a bush was growing in front of my feet.
Our host, Grant
Brother Jim is the continuing athlete in the family. A former BYU swimming champion, now working at Los Alamos, still swims, runs and skis. His wife Teri seems to run from marathon to marathon, recently the NY marathon, so she's in the big time. Everything Jim says makes me laugh; some folks just have the knack of it. His son Will came, but daughter Annie was having a baby; daughter Lucy is an LDS missionary in Japan, and son Sam was working. Families seem to grow, and the kids just get a life of their own.

Tony and Shelly live in Salt Lake City, where we all originated. Our Great-great grandfather, John Tingey immigrated from England in the 1840's and was a Mormon pioneer. I was born living in the same house he built at 245 W. North Temple, a block from the Mormon Temple. Now, Tony & Shelly are the only remaining members of the family to still live in Utah. I love to return home, so after the reunion I would ride with them the 700+ miles back 'home'. Tony makes me laugh, too, and when Jim and Tony get together, the humor never stops.
Tony and Will's torso

Their kids were scattered to the four winds: Spencer and wife Amy live in West Virginia, where he is going to medical school. Son Alex is in school in Provo, Utah, while their daughter is engaged and working as a geologist in Salt Lake City. None could make the reunion this year. My daughter, Daphne, couldn't make it either, although she had planned to come. She had just moved from Mancos, Colorado, where she had been working for her mother at Alpacka Raft Co., to Philadelphia to discover the East Coast and attend business school. Shelly complained of 'Empty Nest Syndrome'.
Shelly in contemplation

Also, my sister Mardie's kids, Katie, Mark, and Allie were now grown up; my baby sister is now 50??? Her kids are out of the nest??? How did this happen? Anyway, the are all in school around the country. Even her husband Mark had to work, just separating from his law firm and establishing his own practice. What a landmark! Anyway, Mardie couldn't miss the fun, so she showed up alone. None of us siblings have ever missed the reunion. Mardie was actually the greatest athlete in the family. Now, after the soccer mom years are over, I expect to see her once again rise like a Phoenix and get back in shape.
Mardie: Love that pink hat!

Beach life: Kate, Auri & Teri

The evenings were a continuation of the fun, but condensed into a small condo. There were only 29 of us this year, but we still ended up in fairly close quarters during dinner. But, it was a time for talk and stories.
Teri prepares our dinner

My cousin Linda, sister Judy, and I grew up together, but I hadn't spent much time with her in the past 50 years until our reunions started. Now we email each other regularly and have made the reunion an annual adventure. Her father, Hal Rumel, was a master photographer of the West; I have two of his giant photographs in my bedroom of the Teton range, my prize possessions.

Linda's husband, Garry, is an engineer and told us about his latest project to make refrigeration pipe from extruded aluminum, coupled with mechanical couplings to get around the copper and solder problems of the past. It was the most fascinating discussion of the event.
Garry, Thor, Linda

I'm always sad to leave; it's the only time during the year that we are all together. I'm the oldest, the one who grew up first, the one who lives far away in Alaska, the only non-religious one, the wanderer. Judy and I were 'War Babies'. The rest of the kids were 'Baby Boomers' and didn't come till 9, 11, 13, and 15 years afterwards, so I've had very little face time with my brothers and sisters. Thus, the reunion has become the most prized time of the year for me to re-unite, rejoice, and learn the news of the clan. I think we are now closer than I've ever been in my life.

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