Monday, July 15, 2024

Family reunion reconnect

Along with my mother's 90th birthday, I got to attend a combined family reunion.

My mother came from a large depression era family. She was one of six children and each of her siblings had at least two and sometimes as many as five children. Throughout my childhood there were always large gatherings. It was always something to look foward to as there were many children of a similar genration and we'd all run ourselves to exhaustion in various ways.

As the years passed, cousins got along with their lives and the original orgainzers aged, the expansive reunions of my youth were replaced more modest gatherings. I was last at one in 2010. Fourteen years had passed since I saw anyone on that side of the family. My mother's cohort of siblings got reduced to just her and the widow of one of her brothers. Many of the kids I'd grown up with had moved into other sections of the nation and without the singular focus on my grandparents, the gatherings difused.

I walked into the Odessa park area, which had been the scene of past gatherings, with an entree and dessert. My cousin has asked those attending to bring at least one item. As I saw the people I'd grown up with and placed my contributions on the picnic table, my heart started to swell with gratitude, pleasure, fellowship. I don't know how the Prodigal son felt of that biblical story, but I'd like to imagine it was somewhat how I felt.

Everyone had a big hug for me and was so pleased to see me. I hugged, shook hands, and echanged long latent greetings with all of the people. They all asked how my kids were and what they were doing. It was hard for them to believe that my children are now adults.

The kicker of it was when I and my cousin's wife of 30+ years laid eyes on each other. We hugged fiercely and broke into tears. It was so heartwarming to see her and then to embrace my first cousin I'd grown up with and spent so much time during my childhood. I'd missed them in ways that were hard to count over the ensuing fourteen years. When I left, my cousin's kids were just going in to junior high, now they're full grown adults with children of their own. I can't believe that grandkids are part of their life now.

Then came the eating.

As anyone who reads this blog, or who knows me, I'm not a religious person. A cousin from another branch of my grandmother's tree said grace. I bowed my head out of tradition and respect, then I listened.

For those not familiar with midwestern meal blessings I'll give you the liturgical outline and then I'll translate the meaning:

Dear heavenly father, we are gathered here today...[message] (our Lord's/Jesus') name we pray. Amen.

Here's what was meant, if not what was said:
I'm so glad we could all be here together today. (As anyone living since 2020 knows, it's a gift)
I hope something good is coming your way and you'll be ready for it.
I hope that if you're suffing it will be brief and you'll have the support you need.
Let's all show the enjoyment and love we have for each other in our trials and triumphs.
Now let's eat!

This simple blessing brought my feelings of all of the previous reunions back to me and all of the memories of this good family that I've been fortunate to be a part of.

My wife had it correct when I shared this with her. "Of all the things the Peersons did, those reunions were top notch."

Across the continent, across the miles, across the years, the love is still there.

I love them all right back.

Photo of three of the four boy cousins from my youth. L -> R: My brother, Me, My cousin Dave. So much history, secrets, michief and great times bundled there.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Decline and fall of motherhood

Despite local working circumstances, I was able to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday in person last month. It has been a long time since I've seen her. My brother has been in charge of her care for quite some time now. She is aging in the way her mother did, healthy of body, frail of mind.

I've noticed a change in her interal monologue over the past year. It's changed. I used to call her and she'd talk about my brother and his family, now the calls are about how she is fine and not to worry about her. There isn't worry, but there is concern.

She can be mentally 'there' at points in time, but there's a loss of the internal mind consistency. I helped her get her hair washed while I was there, after some appeal to her vanity, and there were a couple of false starts as she struggled to find the shampoo. She's losing the memory of objects in her place and if things aren't readily visible, they may not be found at all. She has a fridge full of leftovers that she forgets to eat from what I can tell. I have a hunch her body is telling her she's hungry, but she sees the plates and thinks "I've already eaten." and then doesn't sustain herself properly.

On her birthday, I arrived at her apartment and met a couple of women from her church she attended in the early 2000s through the mid 2010s. I don't know if she knew them well during her time there, but it was nice to see the outreach. We went out on an almost two hour drive around her former house, the church she spent time at, her mother's house from when I knew my grandmother, my old schools nearby, and the general neighborhood. She remembered none of them. What was particularly maudlin was the unrecognition of her house and church. She spent so much time in both places and kept them well. She wasn't sad about it, that was for me. She was happy to be about observing the late June Missouri countryside. I was happy to be there with her.

There will be a cessation of these events, hers and mine. Both of our lives have been and will be fleeting. It has been both a long time and a short one depending on one's perspective.

I have questions about my youth and hers which won't be answered. I can bear those regrets and I can celebrate what she time she has left. Love you mom, even though you won't read these words or see this photo.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Blog reclamation

Hello any readers. I'm sure I've said this before, but this is my space on the internet. I'm not here to shove ads at you or monetize your attention. I'd like to share bits & portions of my life with those who find it interesting, amusing, or offensive. If there is a 'brand' of me, it starts here. However the complaints department is closed and I'll be nattering on this 'vintage' (obsolete) way of information sharing for the near future.