Thanksgiving break of my senior year in college. My first visit to Dudley on my own. I’d cold-called my cousin L., just based on my father telling me every time we passed down Highway 117 — “we have a cousin Snook that lives there.” My grandmother had talked about Snook, too. And his brothers Dink and Jabbo. So I called, and I introduced myself, and got a warm and immediate invitation to visit. I took my first cousin T. down the next spring,
T.L., L.H. and me in Dudley, Spring 1986.
and the following summer, at a serendipitous family reunion, my grandmother was reunited with Hendersons and Aldridges that she hadn’t seen in decades. Aaron “Jabbo” Henderson had long ago gone on, and Horace “Snook” Henderson Sr. had passed just a few years before, but there were Johnnie “Dink” Henderson and brother K.H. and sisters O.H.D., F.H.T. and M.H.S., my grandmother’s first cousins in one direction and second in another.
My grandmother and me with cousins O.D. and F.T., Henderson Family Reunion, early 1990s.
As L. recently wrote about the first photo above, “I remember that day so vividly. I believe this was the day we were introduced as cousins. Such a beautiful and blessed moment which has caused for many good times and good memories. Praise God for bringing us and our families together. Long lost cousins!”
It’s been a blessing indeed. Over the intervening years, I’ve become closer to many of these cousins than to some I’ve known all my life. The links we’ve forged have been a testament to the meaning of family and the insolubility of its bonds. Today I got a call from one of Snook’s grandsons, inviting me to help create a video project about our family’s history. For real? “Of course!,” I nearly shouted. The blessings keep flowing.