It's weird going home isn't it? Even though, technically speaking, Oklahoma is my home now. Where my husband and boys are. Where I have lived for the last thirty-something years. Where I have made a life, created a garden and raised a family. Still, my parents live in Indiana, where I was born and where the bulk of my super-sized Catholic family still lives. Where my first mother and my brother are buried. Where my father and second mother are aging. So, in a sense, it will always be home, I guess.
My family moved around more than most when I was growing up. As we ten children aged, brothers and sisters would drop off here and there as they reached college age..........then the family would move on to a new place, a new home, leaving the then-oldest behind. Eventually, however, this geographical hop-scotch ended where it began. In Indiana. Hoosier country. Basketball heaven; the most wholesome place I know. Where it's hard to tell which is more abundant: corn, Catholics, or cousins.
I saw a lot, and I mean a LOT of all three this past week. An it's my turn, and I'm glad to do it trip to help out with my parents ended in a makeshift family reunion when a birthday party that was held for my dad's twin sisters (who turn eighty this month) coincided with my visit. Mega-large Catholic families like this are rare today, but to give you an idea of the size of my extended family, absorb the dimensions of just this little birthday gathering. My dad is one of nine children. The birthday girls between them have sixteen kids; I am one of ten........and, well, that's just three of the nine! Betcha can't top that! And if you can, you are possibly, quite probably, Catholic.....and from Indiana. That's just an assumption on my part, of course.
I shan't divulge all of my family secrets and quirks, but I will share a few little family tidbits from this weekend:
......that one of my cousins is an uber-influential, uber-wealthy, uber-successful (if that is the metric one uses for success) London banker, residing in England in a castle built in the 1600's. Oh, and he flew over in his personal jet. And after much partying, I hope he remembers he invited ALL OF US over to see him. On his private jet. Or jets as one cousin pointed out. Or a fleet of them as yet another cousin pointed out, to transport ALL OF US across the Pond.
.....that my mother went to see one of these aunts shortly before I was born to ask permission and get her blessing to name me Linda. Because my aunt had recently lost a daughter named Linda. Nothing quite like discovering you are named after a deceased cousin. I am still wondering about this.........a gutsy gesture on my mother's part......and my aunt's.
.....that my Aunt Ritz's legs (to be fair, just portions of them and below the knee) were buried with my great-grandpa. Because back then, you just couldn't simply dispose of them. And great-grandpa's demise was very timely and convenient I'd imagine. (Details of all of this are understandably sketchy. I only remember Aunt Ritz with her prosthetic legs which she would companionably take off to play with us, making her just our size for wrestling and rolling around.....these legs, I assume, were buried with Aunt Ritz...not great-grandpa.......are you keeping up?)
......that even if you haven't seen some of these cousins in thirty to forty years, you still collectively remember walking to the FAIR STORE together, with its wooden floors, and endless bins of nickel candy and treasures...........the tiny little troll dolls, the dot candy on white roll paper, candy necklaces and Big Chief red soda........and the fact that yes, indeed, you are still family even if you only see each other every thirty to forty years.
.....and that when you go anywhere in the car with my parents over twenty minutes in duration, you still say the rosary. I just don't remember it being interrupted by a ringing cell phone back then....
Thanks, cousin Jack, for a great party.
I'm glad to be back.......I am hoping you missed hearing from me.........just a wee little bit? Maybe?
And may I ever so meekly ask a favor of you, dear Reader? If you like my little blog, would you please forward to someone else who might enjoy it.... or who just needs a little cheering up.....or who might want to know you're thinking of them? Sometimes I feel like I'm preachin' to an empty church. Thank you ever so much, Linda.