Saturday, February 1, 2014

Family Tragedies, Twists & Turns

This post may need a family tree to follow ...

Families share a history. Today I attended the memorial of my great-uncle on my mother's father's side.

The Tragedies

  • My mother was killed at age 22 and when I was 4 years old.
  • My grandfather, her father, die when he was 44 years old and I was 9 years old.
  • My brother and I grew up in several different homes with various configurations of related caregivers.

A Twist of Good Fortune

As children, we were toted to family reunions and gatherings which provided us opportunities to know my mother's half-siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family. It was great fun - swimming, playing, tennis, games, 42 and lots of food. The last one I attended was when I was around 12 years old. Fortunately, these old fashioned family get togethers left a lasting impression. 

I never called the great-uncle we honored today uncle - not sure why. My child's eyes saw him as a vibrant, funny and outgoing guy. He would tease the kids in that way that kids beg to stop; but, the kids really savor the playful attention.

A Turn

Our living situation took a turn in my teens and then I hit my twenties and, for whatever reasons, I never went to another family reunion. I am now 48 years old.

Recent Turn

Facebook reconnected me to a 2nd cousin that I knew during my childhood. Turns out we are like minded and he is an intriguing person. 2nd Cousin invited me to the memorial of his father, my great uncle. I went today. 

"Oh, you are Cheryl's daughter."
"This is OL's granddaughter."

I have not seen most of these relatives in over 35 years including my great-uncle. But it is okay. I loved seeing them today especially my step-grandmother whom I have always admired. There is no way to capture missed years nor would I want to try. However, I did appreciate the moment. 

These occasions are always bittersweet. Saying goodbye to loved ones is hard thus we gather family and friends around us. This sharing of a mutual space for even a few short hours is good.
A picture I never saw until today. My half uncle and aunt flank me (in the stripes) and a cousin is in back. Thanks so much to 2nd Cousin for posting. I believe this is winter 1969.


  1. Wow - what an amazing story!! Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks - it is cathartic to write about my history - certainly less expensive then therapy. Although have done that too :)