Are you an influencer?

On a normal year, there are anywhere between 100-120 family members. COVID took center stage last year and the family reunion was cancelled. For the first time ever.

But an unofficial invitation was sent this year. Turns out, 76 people showed up. And fun was had by all.


I love seeing a man in the kitchen (especially my man)

For the past 50+ years, we’ve congregated around campfires on Memorial Day weekend with tents and trailers and kids and bikes.

Every year there are missing family members. I overheard someone say this year, “I miss Steve’s laugh”—Steve, the husband of my sis-in-law Cheryl, who, if there are front row seats in heaven, watched the family reunion unfold from his box seat.

Along with the people we miss, there are always new (and growing) family members. And it seems they demand our full focus. Because they’re our future, and we need to be present for them. Here. Now.


I think he “borrowed” his grandma’s glasses

It was Mother Teresa who said:

You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream. You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life. Nevertheless, in every flight, in every life, in every dream, the print of the way you taught them will remain.

So this past weekend, we made s’mores around the campfire, and taught grandkids how to flip blueberry pancakes, and played corn hole, and tried to stay out of the water balloon fight, and cuddled with puppies, and rode bikes in Minnie Mouse helmets—well, some of us—and basically ate way too much food. Oh, and Grandpa Dan was pranked.


Pancake studentin-training
It would be unAmerican to build a campfire and not roast s’mores, wouldn’t it?
Cuteness overload
Because every girl should have a Carhartt jacket and pink cowboy boots
And just like that, grandson Titus converted Dan from an OSU fan to a UO fan

My niece Heidi spoke this year at our traditional Sunday morning church-at-camp. At the end of the service, son-in-law Josh asked us to divide into family groups, and led us all in a prayer of blessing over our kids and grands and great-grands.

Which caused me to reflect on the magnitude of our responsibility as moms and dads, as grandparents and aunts and uncles, to consider our influence—if we’re having any—on the upcoming generations.

What if we could be influential? What if we could make a difference in the little people around us? What if our prayers and actions as extended family members could help reinforce what the parents are hoping to teach their children?

We should. We can. They can.


But Lord … I don’t want to wait


Is your life a story worth telling?


  1. Peggy Carey

    Beautiful Marlys! What a wonderful tradition.

    • It’s interesting to be on those campgrounds, Peggy, and remember when our kids were the toddlers and the bike-riders.

  2. Penny

    Rod and I were able to be there for 2 days…….was an absolute joy to be out, no masks and be able to hug family members!! Watching our kids run after their kids, was kind of crazy! Lots of young ones….. we each teach or lead by example different things that usually we don’t even recognize, the young ones pay attention even more than we give them credit for! I’m excited for next year to see how each child has changed…..
    was a joy to meet your husband, he truly belongs with this crazy exciting group of people……
    Sending you both hugs……PJ ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Cheryl White

    Thanks for sharing Marlys. It was such a special reunion. We are truly blessed.

    • It was special, Cheryl … but it was also your first without Steve. I can imagine that evoked so many memories. I wish I could remember who said, “I miss Steve’s laugh” … but I know I was one of those who agreed.

  4. Marlys:
    Thank you for such a fine article.
    As memory serves, I think the Combs’ were around for about 29 of those Johnson family reunions.
    I miss so many of the Johnsons.
    I really appreciate your writing style.
    I have a sense of feeling updated.

    thank you so much.

    Quinn Combs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson