So. My seven siblings and I are engaged in our first-ever, post-expected-death — of three people, first Dad, 96 (two years ago), then Mom, 96 (one year ago), and finally dear Mary, 63 (one month ago tomorrow) — reunion plans.
For more on these three powerful occasions of individual and collective birthing death and grieving, see The Grieving Time.
We’re presently in a spirited group email wrangle about when and where and how long to hold this new era family reunion. The big question: include all our progeny or not? And their progeny? If so, let’s see:
Ann — two sons, two grandchildren
Marnie and Mick — one daughter, three sons, ten grandchildren(?)
Paula and David — two daughters, two sons, seven grandchildren(?)
Kathy and Marty
John C. (Mary’s widower): one son and one daughter, one grandchild and one expected soon
Mark and Carrie — three daughters and one son, eight grandchildren(?)
John K. and Jeannie — two daughters and one son
Kristin and Matt — one daughter
If grandchildren are included, that’s how many? I’m afraid to count.
Paula wants to reserve rooms in a giant lodge somewhere for everybody who can make it next summer, with all meals provided! Most of the rest of us lean towards going to Hailey Idaho next October, staying in a large AirB&B for five days, just the sibs and spouses. We suggest that if any kids and grandkids want to join us, then they make their own arrangements nearby. That this is a trial run. We can plan bigger for 2017.
Though this whole discussion feels like an initiation into a brand new era for us, I suddenly realize how utterly common this kind of discussion is for families! It used to be that extended families could just gather together in a nearby park for a picnic, since they all lived nearby. Here in the midwest, I still come across signs for Family Reunions in parks! I suspect that the midwest, and perhaps the south, are the only areas of this country where that can still happen.
It’s been a long time since our far-flung family has reunited under “normal” circumstances. Normal used to mean we’d reunite at Dad’s and Mom’s direction and discretion, with Dad footing the bill! A cruise off the coast of Mexico for their 50th anniversary, a resort in Chelan, Washington, another at Elkhorn, near Sun Valley. That era is long over. Given that most of our meetings in the past few years have been in response to pre- or post-death emergencies, it truly does feel as if as a family we are starting over again, just as I suspected we would once the King and Queen were dead. Now that we no longer function under (or rebel against: me) Dad’s organized German structure, we are morphing into an Aquarian group of equals. Zowee!
Meanwhile, I am highly aware of how fortunate we are to be engaged in this new experiment. How very fortunate to have each other as family, given the many many souls who feel so alone, or estranged from those blood ties that would hold them dear.
So here we are, one of the very very fortunate — and large, Catholic (and recovering Catholic: me) — families who can actually hold and enjoy this lively, rich discussion with each other. And let me say, it’s NOT an easy call! We all love everybody! How to decide who’s invited? Well, of course everybody’s invited, but we still have to deal with logistics.
Our scheduling and inclusion dilemma reminds me of the whole world right now: most of humanity, by this time, is learning to love everybody! Or they would if the U.S. Empire of Chaos weren’t so busy blowing up homes, villages, whole towns, destabilizing, dividing, wrecking whole nations, regions, sowing discord and distrust wherever it sinks its fat greedy fingers.
Despite Empire, the internet has brought far-flung human beings of all stripes and colors together in such a profound manner. Except of course for those “exceptional” .001 psychopaths who run the Empire of Chaos — but let us not forget that there aren’t that many of them, and that who knows, might even they at some point beg forgiveness and seek return to the fold?
Meanwhile, my sister Kath and her husband Marty just returned to Hailey, Idaho from a quick trip to NYC where they used to live. Here’s from the email she sent out:
Many thoughts and impressions on our trip to NYC after 6 years, but the most impressive was the visit to the 9/11 Memorial, which was beautiful beyond all expectation. The view and sound of the water cascading down into the center 3rd dimension of the fountain is nothing short of sublime. Very hard to explain its effect , but, my God, they did this RIGHT!
And going down to the Memorial on Sunday morning on the subway, there was a “Poetry in Motion” poster (sponsored by the NYC transit authority) on the wall that felt like Mary speaking to me. I copy/paste it here.
If you read this again and again, it deepens and changes its meaning.