As I open my blank writing canvas for today, I am writing my one hundredth post for Dance.Love.Sing.Live. I find this particularly sweet because it was also the one hundredth year for my family-the Brueggers-to be residing in the United States. We spent the entire weekend reminiscing, laughing, eating, exploring, and story-telling.
My great grandfather traveled from Switzerland in 1911 to find land suitable for a ranch of his own. He set off for Wyoming. Why? No one really knows... Nevertheless, he went back a decade later to find a suitable bride. He brought this small, sweet thing to the middle of nowhere and set up camp in a small, one room "shack". This shack now sits 13 miles north of my grandma's beautiful ranch home. Once you get there, you can see for miles across the prairie. You can see storms coming from hours away, and skies that reach into the Black Hills. You can only imagine what my great grandmother's reaction was when she got there. Probably something very similar to what my reaction would be...
"What's this?! No mountains? No people? Where am I?!"
These two people had 8 little people. And these 8 little people helped to raise the sheep and the cattle, ride the horses, carry the wheat and oats and grains, gather the eggs, and haul pails of water from the well.
Then, these 8 people set out into the world. The boys settled their own ranches near the original Wyoming home. The girls each found a beau of their own and found homes in Wyoming, Washington and California. One, in particular, found the smallest gal-with the strongest will-in town, married her, moved into that Van Tassell ranch, and grew a family of their own. Their third son, Lee, is my dad. And the legacy they have all passed down is one for the books.
There were stories about the original 8 kids sleeping on one porch, without heat, with rocks and newspapers that had been warmed up to keep them...well, alive. Stories about the dead sheep in hidden moonshine wells, stories about their first car and outdoor plumbing, stories about tempers and stories about gifts and laughter. All of the boys look the same, and all of the wives share the same jokes. These families stretch out over thousands of miles, but we have kept in touch and found common ground in Lusk, Wyoming.
It is no secret that Germans-especially those from Switzerland-are tough. And it's no secret that they have raised tough, hard-working, stern children. But these children have raised famililes with a lot of love. I have never been more proud to be a Bruegger than this past weekend; I received hugs from grandmas and aunts and cousins, looked over pictures from my great grandpa's world travels (including Hong Kong, Greece, and Switzerland) by way of old slides, I heard lots of advice from the couples who have been married over decades, and learned what it really meant to live during the Depression and the Wars. To say that I am humbled and proud by their hard work is a complete understatement. It's a very cool thing to witness an entire family, brought to this country by two people, gathering together to celebrate the huge accomplishments and sacrifices that were made.
Even Alex was warmy welcomed by those Brueggers. We were mostly surprised by Grandma Norma who is usually the toughest. Even though she is not a Bruegger by blood (she married Johnny, my grandpa), she is the most Bruegger of them all. (She raised 5 boys, lost one, lost her husband and manages thousands of acres and hundreds of cows every day. Oh, and she makes the most beautiful quilts.) She hugged Alex, giggled with him, even asked him to come back, and said he was "basically part of the family already".
One of the best parts is that I was assigned Honorary Photographer. I caught some of the best moments with my dad's camera, including the photo of the entire Bruegger family-all 80 of us. We even took a trip to the original home that great grandma and grandpa built and lived in. I'll be posting those very soon!
And so, happy 100 years to that family of mine; I'm growing to appreciate and love our story. And happy 100 posts to Dance.Love.Sing.Live and a huge thanks to all of you who continue to read, encourage and love me every single day.