This July 4 marks the Barron’s 40th annual Family Reunion. Forty years of gathering to meet the newest babies, to tell the newest tales, to keep the fabric of family tightly and neatly woven together. This reunion has always been a highlight for our family! While my Dad was one of the biggest cheerleaders for this event, he was also one of the biggest clowns in a family full of clowns and jesters. He is gone now; this will be the third reunion since daddy lost his battle with cancer. Yet, time waits for no man. Life continues, the family presses on.
I don’t always attend the reunions. I usually have to work on the weekend of the reunion, conducting our orchestra’s annual Patriotic Concert. But not this year; this year, I plan to attend. Because I haven’t been in several years, I feel I am out of touch with the goings-on with the extended family, and I want to catch up. I want to go to re-connect with family at a time when we are not gathered in a funeral home or at a gravesite. I want to go to the reunion so I can show my extended family that they are still important to me. I need to go because I want to know I still belong.
Time and distance between family members can be misinterpreted as a lack of caring, a deficiency of interest in family and familial things. I don’t want to leave that impression with my family back home. I want to attend so I can remember the original 13 brothers and sisters, and how life was back in the day when I was a punk kid and they were all still alive and kicking. I want to connect with aunts and uncles and cousins whose names I can hardly remember as well as the ones whose FaceBook posts I read every day. I want to meet the grands and great-grands who will never know the faces of the original clan, but whose lives will be shaped in ways they will never understand by the character and integrity of my Dad and his 12 brothers and sisters. And in those later generations of kids who begat more kids, the fabric will grow weaker if not continually worked and stretched and strengthened by weaving together the experiences of the past as well as the hope of the future. The fabric of family can easily be ripped if not properly maintained.
Daddy’s family is made of strong stuff; a deep faith, an unwavering concern for others, and a tenacious commitment to family. I need a booster shot of those characteristics; after all, they are my family, too.
And while I’m home, I hope to eat a lot of Bar-B-Que.
What familial characteristic do you want to pass on to your own family?