Yesterday was an emotional day. It was the day Uncle Harry (Uncle #5 I talked about here)was laid to rest, his cancer riddled body offered up to death in the plume of crematorium smoke that came from the funeral pyre. The day his daughter and son memorialized him in such a beautiful way you could almost see him beaming from his seat at them, until you remembered he wasn’t sitting and watching them because he was gone now. Such unbelievably sad emotions. But it was also the day I saw my grandmother’s legacy fill a room and it made me emotional for a whole different reason.
I never met my father’s father, William. I think of him often but I’ve never so much as seen a photograph of him so I don’t know what he looks like, except that I see him in my father’s eyes – all my dad’s features that I see repeated in his siblings’ faces but don’t remember my grandmother wearing, I ascribe to the grandfather who died before I was born. His blood was running through that room too but it was my grandmother, who everyone (her children included) called Miss Kiz, that I thought about as I met cousin after cousin. Her blood was flowing through that room so freely you could’ve sopped it up with a towel.
Grandma Kiz had many children – her oldest who everyone calls Brother Ken, Aunt Cass, Aunt Daph, Uncle Garfield, Uncle Errol, Uncle Herman, Aunt Pam, my dad, Leroy, and uncle Delroy. Six sons and three daughters. All (except Aunt Pam) had several children, and most of those cousins have children, some even have grandchildren. A lot of them came for the funeral yesterday and I saw cousins I haven’t seen in twenty years gathered in a room, along with older relatives who aren’t as young and sprightly as I remember them, and I was happy and sad and just generally emotional for most of the day.
But if there is any good to come out of this sad event, it is these two things:
- I pressed the reset button on some relationships. You know how sometimes you think to reach out to someone but you just know they’re going to berate you that it’s been so long since the last time and you just don’t call because you don’t want to deal with the chastisement? Well, pressing the reset button means now you can start calling and visiting without that guilt and I intend to use this new opportunity.
- I got to reconnect with family and start some relationships I never imagined possible when I was a child.
This is a picture of me and some of my cousins who I hope will also become good friends. My grandparents’ blood runs through all our veins and whether we like it or not, we’re connected. Yesterday, something special happened when we all got together, like our individual tributaries were swirling over our river banks, gurgling, wanting to join up and create a mighty force. I want to be part of that something great and that’s what I’m taking away from this experience.
Are you close to your extended family? Why or why not?