Reunion 98 Remembrance

The Job Tyler Family Association had Reunion 98 in West Boxford, Massachusetts. On Sunday morning, the final event was the remembering service, which took place at the Second Congregational Church in West Boxford. Marvin Tyler, who came from Grand Rapids, Michigan, led the service, aided by his two young grandchildren, Brynn and Christian. Following is an abridged account of this service and Marvin’s inspiring presentation.

MarvWhen we think of what has happened this weekend, we think of a time filled with “icons.” What are icons? They are items that facilitate our remembering important things.

And as we have seen, the Job Tyler family has many icons that we can use to remember. Two of the most significant icons for the family are Job and Moses. Both are biblical names, and it helps us to identify with stories from the Bible. Job of the Bible was severely tested and had many challenges, as was the young immigrant Job who arrived in the 1600s in Massachusetts. The biblical Moses led his people in a new land, as Moses Tyler provided important leadership for a new “people” here in Boxford and Andover.

We also have the “icon” of the homestead and the barn. These are more than just old buildings, for they provided, in a very real way, the tie between us and our ancestors. As we walk the grounds and touch the beams and walls, we are, in a way, communicating with the people that went before. The structures serve as icons, or important emblems, that help us remember so much more.

There are many other icons that we have used this weekend. There is the church, where we are having this service this morning. We can sit in the pews that were one “purchased” by John Tyler and Bradstreet Tyler and others for whom we no longer have records.

There are also the headstones on the graves of those who passed on many years ago. They remind us not only of the individuals, but of the fact that we will be tied to this land permanently, no matter where we live or where we die.

One of the icons I feel is most strong is the rock wall in front of the barn, built 300 years ago by Moses, probably with some help from elderly Job and some of Moses’ siblings and offspring. This wall has been maintained over the centuries, and its continuing rebuilding can be seen as representative of the continuing rebuilding of the Tyler family through every generation. It was with a great feeling of pride that, at last night’s banquet, my name was selected in the random lottery to receive the prize of a rock from the wall. This means it is a symbol that, in a small way, I will be able to take home with me.

In the Bible, twelve rocks were taken across a river and deposited on the opposite bank as a memorial to the twelve tribes of Israel. Because of the symbolism of rocks and their ability to serve as icons, I have brought with me this morning a number of rocks that I will ask my grandchildren, Brynn and Christian, to pass out to each of the families here today. After they have handed them out, I would like each of you to make a simple statement as a memory for this reunion of Tylers. It can be something about what has happened this weekend or it can be a remembrance for a special family member. As you return the rock, Brynn and Christian will return them to the front of the sanctuary, where they will form a memorial this morning and serve as an icon for the Tyler family.

Many in the audience made statements of the meaningfulness of the weekend to them, and the importance of staying tied with other family members.

After the service, the Reunion 98 participants said goodbyes to each other and began their trips home, whether it was only a few miles or across the country. It was a fitting conclusion to a very special weekend.

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