Once, when I was young...maybe eight or nine, I got in trouble with my mother for something...I can't remember exactly what, though I feel certain it was....for not cleaning something properly.
Growing up, we kids did most, if not nearly all, of the house cleaning. And with ten kids and my parents; well, it was no small house, no small task...to execute...or to coordinate.
In response to this scolding, I dared utter the words "but I'm not perfect, and ..."
thus found myself in further hot water for 'talking back'...(it was a two-fer), which prompted a counter-offensive from my Mom..."but it's what we all strive for!",
perfection that is.
Martha Stewart, not withstanding, I'm not sure that's true. Or probably, sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not. Anyhow...
I had modest expectations of this most recent family reunion in Jasper, IN. Close to where my parents now live, close to the faces and places and spaces that make them feel secure and safe. And that, by extension, make us children feel secure and safe.
So no exotic location, replete with mountains or beaches or museums, was needed to create
the perfect family reunion. All three days of it. And I do not say that casually, or smugly, or arrogantly (because, trust me, there have been MANY family-dynamic gatherings that have decidedly NOT been perfect...)
but with gratitude and humility and recognition
of blood ties, and compassion, and individual and collective mutual appreciation for what we all bring to the table
to face old age, mortality, fear, inevitabilities
and to wonder at the interplay of generations and cultures
the value of dignity
the beauty of an old man's sterling blue eyes and
the softening of aging hands, aging spirits.
I've been asked if the gathering included aunts and uncles and other relatives, or just us kids with our parents and our immediate families.
Just us, I tell them, just us.
A large crowd nevertheless.
Loved ones to share (and edit) memories, experiences, heartaches, bad hair-do's.
To insist with each parent, that, indeed, WE were the favorite child.
To relive the pain of a lost mother, a lost brother.
To thank fate, to acknowledge luck
Ultimately, to move on, and hopefully, thrive and gain wisdom and understanding.
Yes, three days of tender moments, tear-swelled eyes,
getting to know one another again.
Labels: Family, family reunion