Family Ties

Posted by Cheryl on Jul 11, 2011 in Main Categories |

My youngest son, store home for the summer from university on the east coast, see has been planning to take some time for travelling this summer before he hits the books again. He’s been talking about Rome or London. But then, cheap about a month ago, he instead booked a train ticket to journey across the country to spend time with his older brother and sister who both live on the west coast. He doesn’t get to see them much, being years younger and especially now that they’ve both settled thousands of kilometers away from where they all grew up. I was kind of surprised when be chose BC over Europe – but quietly pleased as punch that he felt that impulse to stay connected to his family.

Family is a big theme for me this summer. For one thing, both sides of my family will have reunions of sorts this summer and many will gather just to spend a bit of time together; time where we’ll reconnect and reminisce and rejuvenate by feeling definitely not alone on the journey. Even my sister will force her young children onto an airplane for the first time so that they can be introduced to this large web of family that they’ve never met! At their age, it will be not much more than bewildering, but their presence will be a treat for the rest of us – more threads on the web, and therefore a sense of strengthening our bonds. We will miss those who can’t be there. A few weeks ago my dear Great-Aunt Zita passed away; my Father’s Aunt and Godmother, and the very last relative from my grandparents’ generation to leave us. Her passing felt like the closing of a chapter and I was struck with nostalgia for those people and moments with them that I remember over the years; the stories they told, meals we shared, songs they loved, the challenges they met as they aged and inched towards the final stage of their lives – the insights they offered on life, sometimes on my life, but usually just on life and living, and in the end, on dying. I don’t mean to over romanticize these people or times – some moments were close to perfect and lots were laced with our own brand of dysfunction. What I’m saying is I wouldn’t have missed it or them. With one entire generation now gone from our earthly lives, it has jarred the passage of time into my consciousness, as well as slipped a sense of personal grounding more deeply into my heart.

And when I, myself, just weeks after Zita’s funeral, became a first time Great-Aunt, my brother’s daughter’s daughter, well the lesson was brought home even more. These relationships are reborn; I’m learning that there can be a great sense of comforting continuity to family. Meaning. Place. I can see, all the more as I get older, that I have a place on a path that stretches far ahead of my time and which will continue far after my time. There is a timelessness to the best that is held at the core of the word ‘family’; and it feels both loving and purposeful.

When my youngest, Sebastian made his decision to take a few weeks to camp out on the sofas of his brother and sister in Vancouver and Victoria, to witness their lives, and to share some of where he’s at in his, he explained it like this. He said “Mom, you know how you’ve told me that as I get older, family would become more and more important to me? Well, you might be right.”

I know I am.

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