|Family reunion at our parents' home 1982|
At this moment in the early morning hours, I sit typing with my trusty laptop in the home of Buz and my sister-in-law Phyllis. Sleeping in the next room are Norma Jean, Allison and her daughter Lexie. Buz and Phyllis are asleep in their bed with their two little dogs Pixie and Bella. Counting me, we are eight souls starting our Sunday in Texas, on our way to a huge gathering on Tuesday of the siblings and our clan. This is all happening because Norma Jean has come to Texas to see her family after Pete's passing last month.
It is also the third trip I've taken in four months, with the longest hiatus in Florida with Norma Jean just a few weeks ago. I'm almost getting used to waking in a strange bed at all hours. I had barely gotten accustomed to being home when it was time to leave again. Hopefully when I return home on Wednesday, I won't need to be going anywhere for a while.
I arrived on Friday and had a chance to be with Buz and Phyllis for a day before Norma Jean, Allison and Lexie arrived yesterday afternoon. I went to bed early last night as usual and woke before everyone else, although I hear little Lexie beginning to make her morning sounds, so my Sunday will soon be consumed with family. Until then, however, I am thinking about the meaning of family.
The camera captured a moment in time that looks solid and real, but none of the people in that picture exists as they were then. Markee and Bob are parents to three teenagers now, and beautiful blond Fia is a grandmother, as is Norma Jean, and Allison (red and white shirt) is in her forties and the mother of a beautiful daughter. My son Chris died in 2002 of a heart attack. Peter is in Florida at Norma Jean's house dog-sitting and making home repairs. It's interesting that the person in the extreme upper left and extreme lower right are no longer alive, and I will always miss them both. It can't be helped, that's the way life is.
Family is important to me, I guess to most of us. Not many these days have as many siblings as I do, which makes for an incredibly large extended family. Years ago before the advent of email and the digital age, we sent around a family letter, with pictures and a hand-written or typed letter from each of us. When it came in the mail, you took your old letter out, read everyone's contribution and added a new one. Mama was still alive then and she also contributed a letter. This went on for a few years, before Pete decided to put together an electronic newsletter with everyone's contribution. We enjoyed that until Buz made us a private family blog on Wordpress, which he cleverly called "Sixlings," and everyone kept in touch there until the entire family joined Facebook. I now keep track of my extended family in that environment, complete with pictures and marveling at the exploits of my grand-nieces and -nephews.
At 68, I feel very fortunate to have the love and support of my five siblings and their families. We are all well and healthy enough to be able to gather here in Texas to celebrate and appreciate this moment in time, which is just that, a moment in time. I will capture it in pictures and will look at it in years to come, remembering this time and place, which will have moved on. My heart is full to overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity.