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Columns

November 19, 2013

Twelve children family reunion

By Curt Swarm

Empty Nest

With the norm nowadays being one child (or none) per family, it’s unusual, or unheard of, for there to be 12 children in one family. And when they all get together for a family reunion — watch out! But Felix and Lupe Reyes of Floris had 12 children — six girls and six boys! And they were all raised in a three-bedroom home in Flores with no running water. The kids hand carried water from a well for drinking, cooking, laundry and bathing. You can pretty much bet more than one kid used the same bath water! The kids also chopped wood for the wood-burning stove.

On Saturday night, Nov. 9, the Reyes family all got together in Bloomfield for a tamale dinner, because that’s what mom always fixed. On Sunday, they were back for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The Reyes family knows how to have a reunion! Why not? Whenever you can get all 12 of the children together at one time to honor the loving, Christian, hard working family they came from, it’s an event worth pulling out all the stops!

The 12 kids came from all over the country, as far away as California and Florida. The oldest was born in 1945 and the youngest in 1963. That’s an 18-year spread for 12 children!

Mom and Pop Reyes are both passed away, but what they taught their children is as ingrained as a knot in a hedge post: hard work, trust in God, help others and the family is everything.

When the father, Felix Reyes was 35, and working for the railroad, he rented a sleeping room from the man who was to be his father-in-law, although he didn’t know it at the time. All he knew was that there was a pretty daughter who he couldn’t keep his eyes off of at the dinner table. Lupe was 23. Without ever dating, or even kissing, he asked Lupe to marry him. She said no. He asked her a second time. She still put him off. On the third try, she relented, but Felix would have to ask her father, and the priest. Gulp.

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