In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.
I went back “home” to Ohio for our family reunion last weekend. My family has never been large and in fact, it keeps getting smaller. In the last two years, I’ve lost both grandmother’s and an uncle.
Most days, everything functions like it always has: up early, exercise, shower/yogurt/coffee, work, Liv, dinner, work some more, read, yada yada. Nothing stops. That is, until something forces you. A decision. A choice. An event. The other day, it was a smell. Cover Girl powder. My Grandma used to swipe that across her face religiously, right before she dabbed the wrong shade of pink across her lips. Prior to that out of no where stop, it was Velamints. My other Grandma used to keep those in her right corner kitchen cabinet, along with her Tic-Tacs and liquid cancer-causing sweetener.
But on Sunday, it was something else. I stopped in the middle of reunion chaos to just soak it all in. Family. The ease of conversation, the roots, the ribbing, the laughter, the memories, the “what is her problem?” look, the void of other relatives who used to be there.
In typical family reunion style, we were sitting around after consuming burgers, dogs, pasta salad, fruit salad, cookies and wine, swapping stories. Of course Liv’s little ride in the 5-0 cruiser led the discourse. Lots of laughs, followed by lots of our own 1980’s teenage stories. The apple didn’t fall far, nor did it miss any extended family lines either.
My only female cousin, Lynn, shared a similar yet didn’t-almost-end-up-in-Juvie, “I can’t find my kid” story. She has three boys: Chris and Josh are twins and the same age as Liv; her other son, Zach, is a year younger. All three are gifted cross-country runners. In the 15’s for a 5k. They asked me if I wanted to go for a run, but, um, I didn’t have my shoes.
So the three of them attend a XC camp in Mentor, Ohio. The very first day, as Lynn arrives to pick them up, Chris and Zach trot exhaustively to her car while Josh is no where to be found.
“Where’s Josh?” she asks.
“No idea. Haven’t seen him for 2 hours,” they respond.
On and on it goes until the camp director tells them to wait there and he’ll go out and search for Josh around Mentor. They don’t hang out in Mentor. They are unfamiliar with Mentor. The route was 11 miles and it was 100 degrees. Not great.
The counselor finally appears – Josh in tow – and my cousin smothers her twin son with hugs and tears. (Again, that apple…)
She mumbles something to the guy who responds oh-so-stupidly, with: “If your kid can’t hang, he shouldn’t be here.”
Lynn ended her expletive-ridden retort with, “When I’m done with you and this death camp – there won’t BE anywhere to be!” (Yep…)
As we’re all listening to her finish the story, Lynn’s older brother, Rob, just kind of smirked and said: “I don’t know what the big deal was. You have another one just like him.”
Ah, my family. Even though we don’t see each other often – even though we simply try to keep up with one another via texting, Facebook, or the occasional phone call – there’s something that just “is.” Something that cannot be replaced, cannot be manufactured, cannot be expressed. There is no pretense; there is no show.
Our lives just go on.