Saturday, August 10, 2013

Family Reunion Camp,

 

This is the view that greeted me in the early morning light, when I woke to the sound of my cousins (2nd? 3rd? once, twice removed?) driving along the gravel road, heading to a golf meet-up somewhere nearby. Paul and I had a run scheduled instead, so I got up and made my obligatory morning cuppa, took it outside to admire the mountains surrounding Revelstoke. I've heard there are 50 or more of us here, representing 7 of the 10 siblings my maternal grandparents raised. We have one of those siblings here, my uncle, one of the last remaining two. And the company spans from his generation down to what would have been my grandma's great-great grandchildren. At least.

Many of the family are camped below us, either in tents or RVs or Fifth Wheels. We're all luxuried up on the top row of the campground in one of these cute little chalets. I'm happy to have the retreat. I've been surprised by the waves of emotions that threaten to submerge me. So odd to see familiar features manifest on a face I've never met before.

And I'm sorting so many memories, remembering sights and smells and sounds and anecdotes that no one in the universe has but me. And possibly one brother, although his will be from a different perspective, so back to no one else but me. Not sure what aspect of this has me hunkering down in a dark room with a box of Kleenex and a cup of tea while my big family plays outside in the sun, but there you have it. Perhaps more insight, or at least analysis, will come later.

For now, I'm freshening up the mascara and getting ready for dinner. Of the cousins I do know, I haven't seen most of them for 40 years, so I'd better get busy and store up more memories. And see if I can find one or two whose memories complement or resonate with my own.

Perhaps we can just label this post idiosyncratic, 'kay? I want to include it, despite its quirks, because there's something here, I think, I wonder, that has to do with life at 60. Not yet sure where the meaning inheres (I know very well that it doesn't cohere), but, to paraphrase something Lisa used to say regularly, It's as true as I know how to make it right now. Which, I admit, isn't very much.

I'll make up for this by posting a hat/WIW photo soon, okay?

 

14 comments:

  1. I think it's exactly what you post. Identity. Thank you for remembering what I used to say when I had world enough and time.

    xoxox

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    1. And thank you for being so Marvell-ously literate . . .

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  2. Oh boy. I've been there and tried to stay in my hotel room, the whole thing just being too much on many levels. It's been years, and I'd carefully shoved the memory into the back closet. This post brought it right back. Let's have coffee - this warrants some back and forth.

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    1. This validation of my feelings, after a post I felt a bit goofy about, was so much appreciated. And yes, please, to the coffee . . .

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  3. Maybe as intellectuals we analyze too much sometimes, we want to see the connections, make things fit in some kind of system? But that’s the Proustian paradox: the more Marcel wants to make sense of his feelings during the “madeleine” episode, the more that meaning escapes him. Living fully in the present moment can be hard for some of us, and you are wise to postpone your analysis of this and hope insight will come later. Better make new memories now.
    I have been living in the US for more than 20 years and I miss my extended family, back in Belgium. Last fall my brothers and come cousins organized a family reunion. I could not attend because of work but got a full report from my brothers. They had a great time but could see the next generations show little interest for what connects us as a family, all these stories that (sometimes quite drunk) uncles and aunts would tell again and again at All Saints Day or New Year’s Day. I find it sad to see all that go away.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Dominique

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  4. Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment, Dominique. I'm always pleased to hear new voices here.
    I really like your insight about the Proustian paradox and I like to think that's why my instinct led me just to record my feelings, to try to capture me now so that I might analyze them later. I might be giving myself too much credit.
    I hope that you will make it too one of our own family reunions before too long. . . I do think its sad when the younger generation lose interest in the old family stories. I was really pleased, though, to see the connections that were being made, across generations and also across siblings, cousins, second cousins, etc.

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  5. Oh, I went to a reunion like this earlier this summer and yes, it is true to see characteristics we might think of as unique to us on so many other faces. For example, I had always presumed my mother's side of the family was a French/German combination. Surprised to discover it was more likely Scotch/Irish, which explains many things about some of the personalities.

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    1. Isn't it funny the way we carry these perceptions! Then so startling to have them reversed!

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  6. After three months of extended family house guests, the last one, our nephew, left this morning. Relief mingles with sadness and the Kleenex box is close to hand. Such brokenness of body and soul. Families. I hardly know what to think. Your post lets me know I'm not alone. Thank you, Mater.

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    1. It's part of this stage of life, I guess. . . We've got the elevation(I'm drawing on my morning's cycling for a metaphor) to see the broad view. Which can be exhilarating, rewarding, but which also brings insight, knowledge, that can simply be painful. Glad my quirky words helped.

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  7. Given the massive (and sad) life changes you've experienced this year, I'm not surprised you don't have that Kleenex handy all the time! Of course, I also know you've experienced wonderful life changes this year - birth of a grandchild, reconnecting with your daughter and turning 60. But even those warrant some Kleenex. I say, how wonderful that you have the luxury to cry amongst loved ones (but not in front of them). As you know, I have limited experience of family connectedness so I envy your large, extended crowd.

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    1. Oh, these are wise words, and I like being reminded how rich my resources are. In fact, I'm going to hunker down with your comment and do some thinking. Might even post some more about this. Thanks!

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  8. I wonder if there is anything to do with your statement upon your mother's death that you were now an 'orphan'. You've arrived at being the top layer of the onion. It's a bit of an exposed place to be, no more layers above to keep you feeling buffered and secure. Fewer people with whom to share memories, to which so much of our cumulative identity is tethered.
    Plus whilst your granny is lucky to be the progenitor of great greats, it's a sobering thought for all of us that we may be blessed by such descendants but will never get to meet them in person. I often wonder as a mother if it is harder to leave those you love behind, than to be left behind yourself.
    Lettys

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    1. So pleased to welcome you here as a commenter, Lettys. And such a thoughtful comment. I think that there's much to what you say -- as well, meeting so many people I haven't seen since I was a child, teen, at most a very young adult, I bring that young girl/woman to mind more clearly than usual. And compare her expectations with my realities. . . much to contemplate.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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