Memorial day brings memories of families coming together, barbarque, and trips to honor those passed before us. In my childhood I was blessed in that both sides of my family, my mother’s and my father’s parents came together for holidays in one household. My Pappy Nunnally was widowed at a young age, so often my Grandmother Geddie and my father’s sister Aunt Jean joined forces for a holiday gathering. Each family would bring something wonderful to add to the banquet and resulting day would be twenty to thirty or so folks spilling from the large concrete patio to the house and back again. There were no televisions turned on that day, and work was set aside except for the ever present phone calls from the hospital for my father or e.r. Doctors were never truly off.
The memories shared, the retelling of family stories were very important to me. I was near my first cousins as a child because we did gather three to four times a year despite the fact that we lived 2-5 hours a part on most days. Aunts and Uncles were distant, but because our family adults chose to call, write, and make these treks, we grew up aware that we had family and that family was all of us.
Extended family is meaningful. It takes effort and purposeful planning, but keeping families alive is a gift to the children within it.
Most of my family has passed from this world. My brothers and I scattered from Alabama to Ttexas. There are few gatherings since my mother has passed. My brothers and I make the trek to Arkansas to gather what family we have. Our three uncles and one aunt on my father’s side long gone, the cousins in touch by email more often than over dessert…but we stay in touch. We choose friends who are close to us for decades now, and keep them close as well. Our own children are approaching adulthood, so we share the stories and continue the traditions of being together with them.
Memorial day is a holiday to remember those who have gone before us, for those who have given their lives for us. Military service has affected many of the men in our family, whether through shrapnel that pained their body for decades after service, or the reality that seeing war first hand brings to a bayonet bearing soldier, to the views the current war in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought to my own husband. Family matters, gather them near, and let them know you love yours…..email, call, visit, skype, or write…gathering in person is not always possible, but gather still we can..
today is the day family is with us.