I’ve written before about my longing for family. Having grown up in California, I wanted so much to belong, to be included in family photos and romp about the farmstead along the banks of the Red River of the North with my cousins.
Now we are here in the land of prairie and lakes at last and times are changing. On my Mom’s side of the family there are four of us – all girls, three of us sisters. It has been over 20 years since we were all together and this past weekend we did it again in Stacy, Minnesota just north of the twin cities. Maryanne and I are the oldest, and then Marlene, followed by Margie (Margaret Jean). It was wonderful and what was particularly significant was the story and truth of genes revealed. I grew up apart, but the same course of quick energy flows equally amongst us. We’ve all spent a lifetime talking fast, moving fast and wanting things done “just right”. Not unlike my mom, their Aunt Harriet, who throughout her life suffered from numerous broken toes simply because she hurried with passion through life. And we all take after Grandma Marie who gave us the gardening gene to the max, and because of her, we just might win extra brownie points for our innate and consummate cleaning skills as well. Being with them that day only proved to me the truth of the consequence and reality of the link that is family.
On my father’s side there were 15 cousins, of which I am the second in age and three are now gone. The first to leave us was Jennings who was named for my dad who died just as young Jennings was being born. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the chance to spend more time with him. Or either of them for that matter.
I was here two years ago for cousin Chuck’s funeral and felt with all my heart what it was for Aunt Lil to lose a son too young. We know and share together the depth of that experience. Chuck was going to take us to the Lake of the Woods in far northern Minnesota to experience fully the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. We’re going there some day soon to see for ourselves and celebrate his memory.
This week my cousin Ronnie was the third. Ten years younger than myself, it was one of those deaths of which could be said that “it was a blessing” but however much that might be meant to assuage the living, it is never easy to witness a difficult ending to a life. Ronnie’s memorial however, occurred with an immense group of well-wishers, a retinue of motorcycle enthusiasts, a military send-off with all the appropriate ceremony, a luncheon at the Hickson center and a final sprinking of ashes at the family homestead.
Time, it seems is speeding up. Now we are fifteen.