Five years ago, my parents decided to go on a reunion vacation with my mother’s siblings. The interesting thing about that is that my mother never really got along all that well with her brothers and sisters: hierarchical society = hierarchical family. My mother was the oldest girl of nine children, so while Grandma was busy gestating, Mom spent much of her teenage/young adult life being part-time mother to six younger siblings. Not that it was all misery — she was naturally bossy and had very clear ideas about the order of the universe.
The reunion was a success. Mom showed me pictures of them lounging around in a posh Japanese hotel room, wearing yukatas, eating little delicacies, and sipping tea. They looked happy to be together — they were healthy in mind, spirit, and bank accounts. They were survivors.
This past week we hosted a reunion of DH and his siblings. I’ve known them for 25 years, but contact has been sporadic at best. Our fault, really — DH because he is probably the least loquacious of the sibs, me because I have enough trouble relating to my own brothers.
But this reunion . . . . I enjoyed talking to them all, even the problem BIL (every family has one of those, right?), the vet addicted to nicotine and narcotics — though not necessarily in that order.
“I still dream about running,” DH’s twin sister confided. She has MS, and as her son says, is “trying really hard to stay out of a wheelchair.”
“She sure is a high maintenance girl,” the youngest brother commented of one SIL. “First she wants to breathe, now she wants to pee.” We were at 8500 feet, and they were all lowlanders. He always did have a sardonic sense of humor.
“It’s not the going up that’s bad,” DH’s oldest brother grumped, “it’s the coming down.” An old tennis injury, two knee surgeries, arthritis, and a probable knee replacement in a few more years. But he still has his black Porsche, a youthful indulgence he drives to work everyday.
I see them then at my wedding — no wrinkles, no grey hair, no kids, no minivan. The time blurs: the boys are still competitive, oldest sister still loves horses, twin sister is still the nurturer. They share the same smiles, they have their Dad’s eyes. Next year we will have another reunion; I believe I will go.