When I was young, Dad worked 40 hours a week, Mom worked for the school district, my grandfather was retired, and my grandmother sometimes worked part-time cleaning the rectory across the road from their home. Most weekends in the summer, if we weren’t camping, we were at my grandparents. One aunt and uncle lived upstairs from my grandparents with their four children; my widowed aunt and unmarried (young) uncle lived with my grandparents. My aunt and uncle from New Jersey visited often. Two of my grandmother’s sisters visited often, and usually had their children with them. We were close. Besides my brother, I had two generations of cousins to hang out with.
My daughter doesn’t have those kinds of connections. I rarely see extended family anymore, and she doesn’t really know any of them. That seems sad to me.
This was borne out yesterday. My young uncle, Gerard, got remarried. His cousin officiated. I hadn’t seen Jeff in I don’t know how long. Certainly, I don’t remember him being so grey. I remember fishing at the Oarbed. I remember either Jeff or Matthew..or maybe Kenneth… carrying my brother on his shoulders across the stream, and them falling in. I remember my dad, Uncle Orland, and Uncle Bob being the cameramen when Gerard ‘directed’ the rest of us in various ‘home movies’.
I remember the younger second cousins…well, Kathryn and Joanie’s children… getting married and starting their own families… I was in my teens.
Then ‘my’ generation started… and Kevin and Tina made the decision that there were children already out there who needed them. I have lost track: I believe they are on their twelfth adoption; and that doesn’t count the foster children that have been part of their lives. I have actually met April, Reggie, Brandon, Dillon, Haley, Emma, Jeremiah and Chloe. Kelley, Michael, Robert…all grandparents.
I missed the last two major family gatherings prior to this wedding … ten years ago, for my Aunt Bee’s birthday, and more recently for my (great) Aunt Kathryn’s 85th. I’ve missed funerals. I’ve missed weddings.
It’s a sad thing, with the wonders of the internet, email, Skype….that families seem so disjointed now. No more summers walking to the Oarbed. ( Which is no longer open to the public at all. Michael once tried to show the place to Angela when she was young, and they got ordered out.) No more days at Lake Amenia, swimming and fishing and just being together. Our family is scattered and still growing, and spreading further and further apart.
Guess that’s why at least trying to keep track is so important to me. Why I want Meriah to know where we’ve come from.