Whether you call it mishpachah, famiglia, familia, famille, or my peeps, these are the folks you are bound to by blood. There are memories, secrets, feuds, warmth, feelings, as well as DNA that binds one family member to another. They are not people we choose, but who by marriage, birth, remarriage, or adoption are part of our life on happy occasions and sad.
Yesterday, was such a day in my family. We all came together to say goodbye to my uncle Morton, my mother’s only sibling. Muriel (if you have been reading our blog http://www.revisionistretirement.com you know she was my mother) passed away almost 28 years ago, far too soon, at only 71 yrs old. (looks super young to me now!) Her brother outlived her to a ripe old age of 94 1/2. He lived longer than anyone in our family by far and he lived a good life, a happy one.
His daughter FranLisa, my cousin handled his funeral calmly, with composure, and grace. She read a few paragraphs she had prepared to the small gathering of family and smiled through tears about the man she knew and loved. The word “kindness” was repeated many times. He said good morning to people he met at his assisted living facility, folks in the hospital or people that needed a smile in the dining room. He was married to my aunt for 57 years and he worked until he was 74. He died peacefully truly from old age not from disease or accident , though he had fallen recently and just wasn’t interested in going through physical therapy for the 3rd time. (I get it)
As I looked around the group gathered in front of our family mausoleum (room for 3 more!) I felt a sense of belonging and connection. My own daughter stood next to me as well as my husband. I stood next to my cousin and put my arm around her feeling close and touched by her strength in putting her dad to rest.
The service was followed by a lovely lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Westchester, surrounded by people that loved my uncle. A cousin made the 3 hour drive with his daughter (aided by 2 canes) to recount stories of the old days. They made me smile and they made him happy to tell them. (and tell them and tell them)
The ties that bind a family should be reinforced, cultivated, nurtured. The Thanksgiving meal (that everyone in my family always complained about going to) is still the ritual we will remember for many years to come. Soak it in, relish it; for the family that we have in our presence today won’t be here forever, but the emotions we shared will.
. Love your family, cherish them, even the crazy aunt that blurts out obscenities or the black sheep of the family that did too many drugs in the 70’s! They are your flesh and blood and you share a unique history.
Enjoy the ride
xox Barclay and Joy