Family Ties

37 – Participants
3 – Days on task

Back for almost a week from a family reunion, I’m almost back to normal.

76 – Age range of participants, in years
3 – Age of youngest participant, in months

Within spitting distance of the upper end of the participant range as I am, I find that the hoo-ha associated with packing clothes and provisions (even for just a few days), driving (even for just a few hours), repositioning said provisions to a cabin in the woods (even with the aid of a wagon), connecting with other participants by walking repeatedly (even for objectively short distances), extricating self and aforementioned provisions at the end of the weekend (even with staged loading), and driving home is all somehow more work than it used to be.

5 – Provinces heard from
4 – Countries with delegations

And yet, with family thriving from Vancouver to Berlin, from Cleve-Land to Ire-Land, how else are the older members to maintain connections than by reunioning? How else are the younger members to establish them?

And so, amid the semi-organized adult activities–potluck suppers, coffees, hikes, town visits, and campfires–there are the more-impromptu kid activities. Running from cabin to cabin. Lifting littler ones up onto and down from porches. Blowing bubbles. Running from cabin to cabin. Standing in line to ride a pony. Swimming and generally splashing around. Running from cabin to cabin. Squealing. Learning how to roast a marshmallow for a s’more. Running from cabin to cabin. All with remarkably few stumbles of any kind.

37 – Participants
0 – Fistfights

In quiet moments on the edge of the swirl, the geezers reflect on other ways of being in the world. There are whispers of families where siblings (even cousins!) live within drop-in distance of each other. What we have for a weekend, they have every week. None of us chose this dispersion: Like Topsy, it just grew through individual choices. After 50 years of moving for work, school, and love, the single-community model is not available to us.

Looking around the campfire the last night, I wonder whether we will all ever be together again.  Today’s young teenagers may have summer jobs the next time our every-few-years schedule prompts a get-together. Today’s portable infant will be a harder-&-costlier-to-transport toddler. And as our leading edge creeps up on 80, we can’t take our own mobility–or our continuing viability–for granted.

It is what it is. What it will be, no one can say. What it was, was great.


This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Family Ties

  1. Judith Umbach says:

    Glad you had a good time. These times come rarely.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Two marvellous gifts from you today. One was this musing on family ties — yes, you and I are at the “leading edge” of our families. I’m happy that my extended family, such as it is, lives but a half hour away. I’m sad — and, I must confess — a little envious of your extended family, because mine is so small. Four of us can fit into a Honda Fit together, and that’s all there are. When I die, there will only be one person left in the world with Taylor genes.

    The second gift was the Robbie Robertson song. Beautifully sung, beautifully produced and recorded. All those musicians, all around the world, were HIS extended family.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I guess family size is relative (no pun intended). With 2 aunts, I feel as if my family is small: my husband had 12 aunts/uncles. But I take your point. On the other hand, maybe your extended family includes the writers, editors, church members, and blog readers you’ve accumulated over the years.

  3. Mary Gibson says:

    Such a lovely post!

    We too are taking longer to rebound from the ‘travel’ (24 hours elapsed time) which I really think is more significant than the time zone difference. You captured the experience beautifully (“running from cabin to cabin”).

    The reunion reaffirms that ‘being there’ infinitely surpasses Zoom. We see it on our home turf, where last night we attended a milestone birthday for one of the next generation. We missed countless such events over the past 38 years. As I’ve said to my Berlin daughter, once you put down roots in another country you are forever ‘torn’. Worthwhile though the experience was, it is also, always, good to be home.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – 🙂 Yes, in families as in public policy, there are no solutions, only trade-offs.

  4. Your previous comment “in families as in public policy” came home to roost. We had a reunion of sorts with our fractured family last weekend. Our oldest son and his youngest (18) son came with my husband’s older daughter from his previous marriage. The occasion is their father’s sharply declining health and my readiness to see the house my sister left to me renovated (by the architect son) and sold. One of our sons here, who is partway to a separation, joined us for the “campfire” circles of reminiscing and talks about possible future plans for our property. I was astonished at the revelations in our little group, including the name change of the estranged daughter from her half-sister, which the latter has kept secret for at least a decade. I have much to ponder and not much time in which to do so. Your comment has a ring of truth that I find helpful!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I’m sorry for the cause of your reunion: Dick’s declining health. All families have some degree of dysfunction, I think – longstanding/unresolved conflicts as one example; secrets or poor communication as another. The good/lucky ones also have love to help balance the problems. May you be supported in this time by those who love you, as you have so often supported them.

  5. Judith niece says:

    I’ve also wondered at previous reunions if this would be the last one…it’s amazing that we keep coming back for more! I tasked one of the teenagers with organizing the next one, so maybe that will make him feel obliged to attend 🙂

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”? I know families that hold them on a set schedule–and mostly in a fixed location in the countryside (camping on owned land)–and that model has a lot of resilience, partly because people know when the next one is coming (& so set aside the time to attend) and partly because there’s not that much organizing to do.

      • Judith niece says:

        The latest suggestion comes from another niece…looking for a place that’s fairly equidistant to all the family members, she came up with St Pierre and Miquelon. What d’ya say? Every 3 years?

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Judith – 🙂 I’ve always wanted to see the Azores…. Seriously, at my age, I’m just along for the ride. Carry on!

  6. Mike Saker says:

    I’m reading this in Montreal — still 1,200 km from home (Nova Scotia) — following two family-weddings (one on each side of our family) involving a round trip of some 4,500 km by road. These were brief “family reunions” with an ulterior purpose: the formal recognition of a lovely couple’s union and the promise of new horizons. At my age, that feels most comforting. We made other stops en route visiting old friends, one of which was filled with the retelling of age-old tales (all true, I swear) and the ensuing raucous laughter (the best medicine of all). At one of the weddings, the newly uncovered half-sister of the groom joined her “new” family by her presence, for the first time. All told, very uplifting. And yes, we packed and unpacked many times during our trip. In the end, all worth it! Here is to families, may they endure for ever.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mike – 🙂 Indeed – here’s to families and to (all true) old tales! Safe travels.

  7. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – I’m sorry this reply is late, but I too was away visiting.

    As I’ve said before, trips and reunions are becoming like hangovers. As you get older, they are harder and harder to recover from and the recovery takes longer.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – No sorry. I agree with you. Recovery takes longer for everything – including things we didn’t use to think of in those terms!

Comments are closed.