When Liz Sullivan sees her brothers and sisters, the floodgates swing
open and she gets caught in a pleasant maelstrom of memories and
Sullivan, her three sisters and two brothers form the core group of
the Smith family reunion committee, which has been successful in getting
the whole family together every five years since 1991.
This reunion, the family decided to meet in Costa Mesa, home to one of
the sisters, Margaret Dailey, 75, the oldest of them all.
The response was amazing. More than 70 members -- sons, daughters,
grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws, girlfriends -- showed up at the
Holiday Inn this weekend for the family celebration they call "2001: A
Smith Oddity," which will last the whole weekend.
"We're here because we love each other," said Dailey, throwing an
affectionate glance at her sisters Helen Olsen and Eleanor Howard. "It's
emotional. When we're together we laugh and cry."
They came from all over the country and from abroad to share their
stories with one another this weekend. Dailey's nephew, Michael Smith,
flew in for the reunion from Frankfurt, Germany, on Friday night with his
girlfriend, Ina Briller.
"I missed the one five years ago, and I feel bad about that," he said.
"I think the unique thing about our family is that we're spread all over
the world, but we still maintain the sense of family over the miles and
over the years."
Sullivan, who lives in South Dakota, says she eagerly awaits these
"A lot of things change in five years," she said. "People get engaged,
people get married, babies are born. It's wonderful to find out what
family members are up to."
They were still missing a few people, one of them Sullivan's grandson.
"He's a biologist and he's studying worms in the Philippines," she
said with a laugh. "My brothers were joking about it -- that it's the
best excuse they've heard so far -- studying worms."
Her brothers -- David and Arthur -- are the only Smiths in the core
group, with all the daughters having taken their respective husbands'
David Smith said he enjoys remembering childhood the most. For 16
years, the family lived in Burma, where their father Joe Smith was a
"We've just been around for so long," he said. "So many things have
The younger generation is as enthusiastic about the reunion, if not
more, said Sullivan's newlywed granddaughter Julie Schultz, who had come
from South Dakota with her husband Brian.
"Not many families have this," she said. "It's really special. I've
really come to know my cousins and had the opportunity to bond with them.
Yeah, I think we can continue this tradition. We should."
Educating the younger members of the family is a significant aspect of
the reunion said Dailey's daughter, Kate Rahm.
"It gives them a sense of where they're from and where they're going,"
she said. "It tells them we're all living out own little lives, but we're
part of something bigger."