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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jul 13, 2012

I believe the best show on television is “Modern Family.”

Every week this assortment of characters that is related to each other spends about 20 minutes arguing, criticizing, complaining, planning and scheming.

Yet while this is all happening, they care for each other with support, kindness, laughter, sympathy and tenderness.

This past weekend we had a family gathering at my home in honor of my 65th birthday. The first of our children and their families arrived Friday and by Sunday evening, everyone was home or on their way home.

We are our own modern family as my wife and I have been previously married. She has three children of her own and I have three of my own.

Like the “Modern Family” characters that cover a wide range of personalities and beliefs, we are a modern family that within our six children are four spouses, a long-term significant other and one never married.

My wife and I count 10 grandchildren with number 11 due next November. The grandchildren range from 10 months to 17 years. There is one who actually has my DNA.

With a range of one year to almost 20 years of togetherness, all of us have settled into a level of comfort with each other. In our time together we have experienced many joys and occasional heartbreaks.

Politically, our family members range from very conservative to quite liberal.

In our family, we have those who attend church every Sunday and those who, when asked when the last time they attended church, would have to think of the last funeral they attended.

With the exception of my son the farmer and his family living a couple miles away, all our children live in towns ranging in size from a few thousand to the metropolitan-sized Twin Cities.

All of them have an appreciation for this farm and the life it gives.

And just like the television show, in spite of our all our differences, a family gathering is a happy gathering where we visit, laugh, talk, listen and eat.

Food is the common thread in our family. My wife loves to plan the meal and the rest love to help with the preparation. My job is loading and unloading the dishwasher.

Over this past weekend a 14-pound beef rib roast was grilled to perfection by my stepson and after everyone had left Sunday evening, my wife and I ate the last bites of it in sandwiches au jus. We kicked off our gathering at noon on Saturday with chili dogs, my favorite.

Saturday afternoon everyone knew that the family photo was going to be taken. We did a similar photo on my wife’s 60th birthday, five years ago, and it was time for another one because we have grown older and we have acquired more family members.

Besides food, we are a family of dog lovers and everyone’s dog (a total of seven) was present when we assembled on the rock retaining wall next to our home for the current photo that was taken by a neighbor and family friend who is handy with a camera.

Each week, “Modern Family” starts with them holding photos of their families and we look as much a collection of wide ranging individuals as the characters on the television show.

This is where the fantasy of a television show and the reality of life today come together much like an orchestra where each person plays their own instrument, while we all play the same music.

In the mid-1950s, in the days of black and white television, there was a popular entertainer named Sam Levinson who among other things was a gifted storyteller.

When I was around 8, I heard Levinson tell of a man who said, “I have four children. One of them is adopted. I can’t remember which one.”

I just turned 65 years old and I understand exactly what that man meant. This is our “Modern Family.”

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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