Woods and Wolfepack – a Tale of Two Reunions

by Andy Wood on December 18, 2007

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Legacy

Wood Family 3I’ve done reunions badly, if at all. Never went to a high school reunion. And while I do have my share of sentimentality, somewhere in my brain is a switch that flips with life changes. “Move on,” it says, and typically I do.This year was different. Somehow in one of those once-in-a-lifetime periods of alignment, I had two reunions in exactly the same location within a week of each other.

Thanksgiving weekend. My first extended family connection, I’m embarrassed to say, since the death of my aunt more than 10 years ago. I’m even more embarrassed to say, it was Joel’s first (he wrote beautifully about it just before going). This is my dad’s family, built around the heritage of my grandparents and their 300-acre-at-the-time farm. My dad lives there now; a place he calls Lonesome Pine Farm. I’ve nicknamed it Bamalot.

Avery 2Nearly everyone came to Gulf Shores – seventy people in all. We told the stories. We sang the old songs – those timeless classics like “Grandma’s In the Cellar,” “Good Hearted Woman,” and “Jesse.” The cousins (that’s me) wrote and starred in a new family play. New generations came out with their own stuff of future legend. We ate! Boy, did we eat. And we laughed a lot. This family always laughs a lot.

For a little while we forgot that life can be hard, that we’re all very different, and we’ve scattered from southwest Alabama to places as far away as Portland and D.C. I had the exquisite pleasure of meeting fourth- and fifth-generation family members like Avery, who stole my heart. And on Thanksgiving weekend we gave thanks. We’re family.

Wolfepack 3Fast forward one week. Still in Gulf Shores, but a different kind of meeting. Men and women came from all over the country to celebrate my pastor’s 70th birthday. Fred Wolfe is the first preacher I ever heard who actually held my attention all the way through the message. I was saved and learned the meaning of “Spirit-filled” under his leadership. And as a high school freshman I began to notice something unusual taking place. One by one, young men and mid-life career professionals in our church began to testify that God was calling them into full-time ministry. Intrigued, I started keeping a list. First Ricky, then Wayne, then another and another. As a high school sophomore, I was number 17. There were many more after me. And many, many of those men are still in ministry or missions today.

This wasn’t just any reunion or birthday celebration. Nearly 50 pastors, former staff members, and spouses came to say “Happy Birthday,” and so much more. We roasted him one night (he’s given us plenty of material over the years). But the next night we toasted him. And for more than three hours, pastor after pastor, missionary after missionary rose up and called my father-in-the-ministry blessed. Nearly every one of us testified of the time(s) when life or ministry had us at the end of our rope, and this man walked in when the rest of the world was AWOL. We testified of his influence. We thanked him for finishing well. And we committed ourselves to do the same. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. And on the first weekend in December, we gave thanks. We’re family.

My old friend Tony Gossett, from Piedmont, Alabama, was right.  You can’t deny your upbrangin’.

Don’t believe I’ll try.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Daddy December 18, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Looks great. I didn’t know which way to subscribe, so send it so you’ll know I’ll be able to open it. >;-)

Robin Wood December 22, 2007 at 11:33 pm

It was such an incredible few weeks. What a wonderful heritage you come from – from both of them.


Chris Brown September 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

I saw where you quoted Tony Gossett. I am from piedmont and graduated with Tony. We will be having a reunion on the 3rd of October and want him to attend. If you would could you forward my email to hin. Thank You Chris Brown

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