I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich.
~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H
I’m feeling a bit reflective and nostalgic these last few days. One of my uncles passed away unexpectedly this weekend and it has got me to thinking about my extended family.
It’s something to be joined to a group of people by happenstance of your birth. You didn’t seek these people out. Not many of us choose aunts and uncles and cousins. They were just there because so –and-so married your mother’s sister or your dad’s brother and they had kids and you all got together at various holidays and family events. If you’re fortunate, there’s much laughter and love and fun and good food. If things swing the other way for any myriad of reasons, then there’s grumbling and sniping and no one stays to enjoy what food there may be. (It would be hard to swallow it if you did stay.)
My mom’s family definitely falls into the former category. Her siblings are all within the immediate area (even as children have grown and moved away). And they all get along with one another and enjoy one another’s company. As such my memories of and experiences with that side of the extended family are full of good things. Things like being woken up on a Sunday night by the loud swell of laughter from my mom and my aunts; bridal and baby showers – some held in the basement of my parents’ house – for various cousins; New Year’s Eve parties where you knew there would be cousins to play with or hang out with and much good food to be enjoyed (and it was always too early to go home).
As is often the case, we now seem to get together mainly for weddings and funerals. But it’s easy to pick up where we left off. The conversation flows smoothly, and even when we’re saying goodbye to one of our own there is still laughter to be heard.
And I am thankful to be a part of it. It’s good to be reminded often that we are part of a bigger whole. It’s good to have shared stories and shared histories. It’s good to not be alone.
*Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)