As you perhaps read at MINDSIEVE yesterday, over the weekend I attended a gala 50th High School class reunion in my hometown of Bethany, OK. Having invited my brother and sister to give a heads up to the school's celebration of its 100th Anniversary, and having not seen any of my extended family who still live in Bethany since the death of my Mother six years ago, I took the opportunity to suggest a family reunion. Along with my brother and his wife from Tx and sister from WA we gathered together with our Bethany/Oklahoma City family in a cousin's beautiful home for dinner and celebration prior to the school events.
I know many families have partaken in reunions since the beginning of time but since our grandparents died many years ago, the only reunions of any kind that we've managed have been those occasions when family members' deaths drew us together. I felt it was important that no more time should be wasted in sharing our lives together, even if only for the evening.
As it turned out, my cousin Butch and I (pictured above) graduated from the same high school class so we had several occasions that even though rendering no "deep" conversations during the frivolity of the moment, nevertheless felt enhanced by the presence of true blood relatives in the same place, sharing the same experiences. My brother, though younger by four years, along with my sis younger by fourteen years, shared the same small hometown childhood and obviously a number of the same friends and acquaintances from my grade school and high school. Their presence also served to enhance the experience of reunion for me; at the school event in one instance we recounted with two special friends the tragic losses of their brothers born the same year as my sister had been born. Their losses have been my losses over these years making the presence of my own siblings even more precious to my life and those friends even closer to my life's fabric than they could either imagine.
But back to the family reunion - growing up for me was just that - growing up. As possible or probable for some of you reading here now, I was born into a family that struggled at times.........but I never knew that, a family with its up and downs financially and emotionally - but once again, I never really participated in those highs and lows.........I just kept on growing up:) However, as an adult reflecting on childhood, I realize the importance to me (aside from my parents ) of my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and childhood friends. Those people formed a barrier of protection that allowed me to advance in life with little anxiety.
Thus I offer grateful prayers of thanksgiving for the family in which I was born and of that expanded remnant of us that still remains - an aunt - the last sister-in-law of my mother's family, her child, grandchildren and precious great grandchild, as well as my deceased uncles and aunts and their remaining children, my cousins and their children. I also am grateful in a way that I never expressed, while the deceased were living, for the joy that my uncles and aunts brought to my life. Even in little actions they nor I would have ever recognized, those actions have contributed to the making of the person I am today.
My spouse in his work as a priest and chaplain sometimes encounters families with dying or deceased relatives who either no longer have family or for some reason are estranged from still living siblings, parents, or children. We always feel a profound loss for those who have cut off or been cut off from family relationships over matters sometimes trivial, sometimes not, but for whatever reason will not consider reconciliation even in the face of death. My prayers for those persons and for you, if there is that wedge in one of your relationships, is for reconciliation and for reunion. I cannot imagine a sweeter gift than that of the embrace of a family in reunion.
Any memorable reunions in your life these days? Maybe a reconciliation or just a visit long overdue?