When [Abraham] was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the Almighty God. Obey me and always do what is right. I will make my covenant with you and give you many descendants.”
~ Genesis 17:1-2
I thought of this ancient promise to Abraham this weekend as I enjoyed the reunion of my mother’s family.
Twenty-three of us gathered together, all descendents of my maternal grandparents. As I created a group on Facebook to share photos, I pondered for a moment on how to name this group and finally settled on my grandfather’s name: Harold Kulland Family Reunion.
Perhaps ironically, however, only six of those in attendance actually carry his last name. As I made the mental count, I realized how endangered that last name really is; only one child in the fourth generation — those among my grandfather’s great-grandchildren — carry that name.
It didn’t begin that way. In fact, my grandfather looked to have more descendants than Abraham. Abraham had only one son with Sarah; my grandparents had three sons.
I think of poor Charles Ingalls. He had a handful of daughters, and his only son died as a child. His only grandchild didn’t procreate, and his line ended. If it hadn’t been for his daughter Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and her ownership of the Ingalls name, he would be lost to the oblivion.
Though my grandfather had three sons, one died before having children, one had two daughters and the youngest son is the only one to bear sons. One of those grandsons has not yet had children, so there may yet be more Kullands in my grandfather’s line; the other grandson has one son who, barring the adoption of a new or hyphenated name, carries the Kulland name.
My grandfather had brothers who had sons, so the Kulland name is certainly not endangered. And at the moment, Harold Kulland’s memory and name live on in a lively way among his descendents, who shared memories, devoured Chex mix, posed for pictures and enjoyed each other’s company this weekend. And they hope to do it again sometime soon.