They strike joy and dread in most hearts. Can’t you hear it? “Yay, I get to see relatives at a distance I haven’t gotten to see in x years!”
And the grumbles. “So much to do, no time. More to do. More expense. Ouch!”
I’m sure in our large clan there was plenty of both, though I won’t be saying who I think was on which side. Instead I’ll share my perspective.
The reunion weekend started with Hubby and I and our kids and the angels all going to the family cemetery to put new headstones (post Katrina) on my parents’ graves and to put flowers on them and my brothers’ graves. It was emotional. It was moving. The children heard some familiar stories about this or that one–we’re related to everyone buried there–and the angels heard stories of their roots.
Not all the stories were pretty ones. Lives are messy and families are too. But they were honest, and both weave the fabric of where we come from and help us identify with how and why we are who we are.
Then there was a cookout at a beloved cousin’s and I met her new husband–an artist and very kind man–and I got to see cousins and their children and some’s children’s children. That was an unspeakable treat.
The next day was the official reunion. One aunt who is ill couldn’t be there. I missed her. But oh how wonderful it was to see the others and to hear what’s up in their lives. To see the children of an aunt I was very close to who’s passed on. Many of them have their own angels now and what a lovely bunch.
I won’t be dismissive of the bittersweet angle of this. There definitely was one. As I sat among the clan and looked around I was moved by those who had been there in the past but are no longer with us. There were a lot of people in that group. So many I found myself with stinging eyes and an aching heart.
But I remembered them, and saw bits of them in their children and grandchildren and that acted like a salve on an open wound.
And that is why the effort of making those family reunions is worth it. More than worth it. Because one day we’re all going to be sitting there looking back at the empty seats and remembering. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll live.
And that we live, with our families… well, that’s the majesty in life.
Being there meant the world to me. That my kids and grands got a sense of their people was priceless.
I wish that for you, too. The majesty…
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