Saturday, May 15, 2010

Family Reunion


"You don't choose your family.
They are God's gift to you."
Desmond Tutu

When my father decided he wasn't up to driving to TN, he asked me to plan a 5 sisters reunion. Three of the five live right here in Jacksonville. The others as far away as San Diego and Washington state. Getting everyone together at the same time can be a bit of a challenge. Besides distance, there are work schedules, vacation days and affordable airline schedules to work around. As if the planets all aligned when I called a meeting of the sisters everyone was able to come at the same time. The occasion ... Dad's 93rd birthday. The man who has scoffed at me for years for letting my inner child reign on my birthday seemed to enjoy all the attention.

There are certain family traditions that occur when we get together. Most of them have to do with food. Dad requested a rib roast for his birthday dinner (I apologize to you vegetarians, but we have always eaten meat in this house and I don't think it's going to change any time soon), which meant traditional sides of potatoes, salad, and popovers. Before that, though, we feasted on clam dip and nuts and bolts (Chex Mix), all topped off with German chocolate cake and the requisite pan of brownies. I guess it is clear that when we get together calorie counting is left at the back door. Clean-up is a breeze when so many are in the kitchen. Like that scene in the Big Chill, kitchen chores just become another reason to congregate and keep the conversations going.

I don't feel like I spent much one-on-one time with anyone, but I was able to get some appointments out of the way without worrying about who was going to watch Dad. Looking back over the week, I realize something about myself. I seem to be more of a watcher than a participator. I loved sitting back and listening to conversations without feeling the need to jump in and add my 2 cents.

My dad, as you might have guessed, is not a real "feelings" kind of guy. In the past he's been known to stir the pot just to see who will get riled first. What was evident right from the time JoJo walked in the back door was his desire to go with the flow, not rock the boat, and enjoy the time we had together. It might be an exaggeration to say it was a "miracle," however, it was quite pleasant.

It's never easy for me to drive people I love to the airport and say goodbye. It always feels like it could be forever, even when I know that is probably not true. Airport parking rent-a-cops take their jobs quite seriously thus keeping the dis-embarking passengers moving and farewells short and sweet. Maybe that's best. I drive away from the curb with tears on my face saying a silent prayer of gratitude and safe-keeping.

For years when my dad's mother was alive every time we visited her we'd leave thinking it would be the last. She lived to be 96 years old. The last time turned into several next times. Each time Grandmother would cry when we said hello, and cry when we said goodbye. It must be something in my genes!

Any sadness I might have felt today has been replaced with pain. I worked out in the yard all day, while Dad and Sweetie kicked back and shook off the cloud of estrogen hanging in the air!
All the leftovers are gone, along with the clam dip and corn chips. The house is quiet enough for a nap. I think that is a great way to end a reunion.

Wishing for you family fun,
Merry ME

1 comment:

Pamela Jones said...

How awesome to get together with all your sisters at the same time! And how wonderful for the King to have all his princesses assembled for his 93rd birthday! NINETY-THREE!!! Can you even begin to imagine that? As the one who often hosts parties rather than attending them, I know what you mean about feeling as though you didn't have much real visiting time with anyone. It's the price we pay for giving others wonderful memories. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it!