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Andrea Langworthy's column: A grand get-together

If you read the obituaries as religiously as I do, you may have observed that more and more of them note the love the deceased had for family. How much he or she enjoyed spending time with the children and grandchildren.

I am not six feet under. Nor do I see death's door beckoning. So, while I am upright, if anyone isn't aware of my feelings, I would like to stipulate that I love, love, love my family and enjoy each and every moment spent with our children and grandchildren. Last Saturday could be called Exhibit A.

First, a little back story: My husband and I married 24 years ago last March. His son and my son and daughter, all college students, stood up for us. Outside, it was snowing and blowing and Minnesotans were being warned to stay off the roads. Inside the Bloomington church, things were much calmer. We quietly said our "I dos" and then, headed to a restaurant for a celebratory dinner.

Our children have since married. We have six grandchildren. Last Saturday, everyone gathered at our home for lunch. One son and his wife flew in from Chicago for the occasion, the first time we have all been together in nearly three years.

It's not that we haven't seen each other at all in those years. On separate occasions, my husband has taken two grandchildren to Chicago for a weekend to spend time with their aunt and uncle; sight-seeing, shopping and eating out. A Cub's game, too, if the grandchild likes baseball.

My husband met the Windy City couple in Florida for some Twins' spring training games.

The other two offspring live in Minnesota so we see them and their children every few months. One is an hour-and-a-half away so it's the son who lives in Saint Paul who pops over to help move pots of flowers and furniture to the deck in the spring and move everything back to the garage in the fall.

But all of us together? That's a big deal. Weeks ahead, I started making lists. I had lists on top of my lists — food to order, groceries to pick up, napkins to iron — so I wouldn't forget anything. I told my husband of my idea to hire a professional photographer to document the event. Instead of rolling his eyes, the usual reaction to my brainstorms, he said, "Good idea."

Luckily, my children's cousin is a photographer. I won't go into all the details, like how we moved the coffee table to have more space around the couch or how a bench from the front was brought to the back and set in front of some evergreens but after the one hour session, my husband whispered to me that hiring this energetic, always-smiling young woman was a great idea.

The whole afternoon was a great idea. Our Chicago son, his wife, our Saint Paul daughter-in-law and the oldest grandchild grilled steaks and chicken and kept each other company on the deck. Inside, everyone else was busy pouring water, dishing up salads and keeping an eye on the fish and tator tots. Once we were seated at the table, we laughed, teased each other and told stories.

Later, after everyone was gone, I crossed off the last item on my list: "Have a good time!" I had written. Check and double check.