When family matters most

Courtesy of clker

Courtesy of clker

Some people call them funerals. In our family they are reunions.

In my extended family there are close to 30 first cousins. I am the youngest by many years. There are too many second cousins to count.

The spouse of a first cousin died. He was 88 years old. His daughter is my age. We grew up together.

The funeral party was fairly large despite his age. Many of his personal friends are gone or too infirm to attend. Most of the attendees were the first and second cousins paying tribute.

Funerals like these are bittersweet. There is always sadness in a loss but it also offers an opportunity to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years.

I come from an amazing family. They live all over the country and do all sorts of interesting things.

We definitely have a drama queen gene as there are a few successful actresses. I have a piece of that gene but never used it professionally. I save it for poignant at-home moments. I’m quite good at it too or so I’ve been told.

There are a lot of “numbers and science” people who do things like accounting, bookkeeping, engineering and chemistry. This gene passed me by except for the ability to calculate shoe sale prices automatically in my head.

My cousin, whose father died, is a supervisor in a hematology unit at a hospital and her son is in med school. Hematology? Blood? Med school? That gene not only passed me by it left me with a barfing reflex.

We have writers and writer wannabes (that would be me). I found out my nephew’s daughter has not only had her poetry published but has won many awards. Although I love writing, the only poems I write are those funny limericks that aren’t exactly PG rated. (I can be very good at those though especially after a margarita.)

We also have good Moms, an auto body guy and someone who proudly holds the title of secretary. We are a diverse group. What family would be complete without a wireless internet guy who does something that involves worldwide travel? Yep, we have one of those too.

There are a few openings. We don’t have any spies or incredibly wealthy people. No lottery winners either although I am working at that. I would love to have a veterinarian in the family too.

The day was drizzly and dreary outside but inside there was a gathering of very different people who came together for a few hours to reconnect and honor one of its own.

It’s too bad that someone has to die to make this all happen.

Rest in peace, cousin Joe.

29 thoughts on “When family matters most

  1. I love the description you share of all your cousins and the camaraderie you share. I’m so sorry that you have had to say goodbye to your cousin, Joe. Although I don’t have a family that’s nearly as large, I have experienced the sweet time of all drawing together after a funeral. And those times are always very meaningful.


    • The problem with big families is that…well…they are big. After a while with marriages and children, there are two many people to include in picnics and weddings so you end up with you immediate family circle. My husband’s family is scattered in other states. My husband’s sister just stopped by on her way from Georgia (where she winters) to Massachusetts (where she lives). It was good to see her. I miss having the extended family living in the same town. That’s how I was raised and it’s a great way to stay connected.


  2. My condolences to you and your family, Kate, on the loss of your cousin Joe. I’m of the age now where invites to baby showers and weddings are almost non-existent. I am hoping for an Irish wake when I depart, but I’d rather be there to take part in any celebration. 😉


    • I haven’t been to a baby shower or wedding in ages. Oh wait, my grand-nephew got married 3 years ago and had a baby. Nothing is looming in the future though. I always thought that the problem with funerals is that they say such nice things about the deceased. Things they should tell them when they were alive. I experienced this when I retired and people told me how much they enjoyed working with me. I would have killed for one of those positive statements during a “testy” week at work.


  3. I’m very sorry for your loss. It’s painful to lose a loved one.

    I expect that, if it weren’t for funerals, though, many of us would never see extended family. Not that it’s a good thing for someone to die, but it is good to spend time with family one very seldom sees.


  4. We had a couple of family weddings this past year. They were fun, but people seemed to come and go awfully fast. Good fun, a beautiful ceremony, hugs and kisses and go catch the plane. Somehow funerals are more leisurely. Maybe it’s the older crowd. No fancy dresses and sit-down dinners. Funerals are a time of taking stock and walking around with a coffee cup. At my mom’s funeral, some surprising people showed up, people we hadn’t heard from or thought about for years. I liked that. You don’t have to be invited to come to a funeral.


    • You are so right. Our extended family is so big that we don’t get invited to weddings anymore. My generation is all married, as is their children. Their grandchildren couldn’t afford to include us all. Funerals on the other hand, do attract more of the older group. Partly because we have the time to attend and partly because we really want to. I was so impressed that the spouse of one of the nephews flew in from California to attend (we live in PA). Her husband is out of the country on business but she felt the need. Awesome!


    • I bet you and I could come up with some professions we’d love to see in our families! I would love a dermatologist with all those fancy machines that tighten your skin too. Perhaps someone who flies charter planes (or someone who owns one).


  5. Our family is much like what you’ve described…seems sad the only time we get together is for funerals…while sad, there’s much to be gained. My hubs and I are the ‘old ones’ now. so we may possibly be onlookers at the next one…who’s to know? Oh well…from the minute we’re born, we’re dying. That’s life in the fast lane. Way to go…go…go!


  6. You are so lucky to have such a big and varied family who all come together for special occasions. I know a funeral is not normally defined as a special occasion but it really is. You have said it perfectly in this post. Your cousin Joe, in death, brought you all together once again to reunite and rejoice in the growth and changes in the family.


  7. You have the barfing reflex, I have the fainting reflex. I fainted when I got my ears pierced.
    I agree, Kate, funerals are bittersweet. Although we morn the loss, we must celebrate their life. I believe all those who depart this earth, to a better place, want to be celebrated. I think Joe is giving you all two thumbs up!


    • You are so right. He lived to 88 almost all but the last month or two was healthy. He had a good life. As the old ones die, I mourn the loss of my youth. These people were the adults when I was the kid. Now I guess I’m supposed to be the adult. I am sure Joe is giving us a thumbs up with his cigar!


  8. The cycle of life when death occurs reminds us that we’re part of the cycle too and in very good company. I’m glad you had a special joining of your family today to honor your cousin.


    • The “cycle of life” concept is much easier to accept when you and your loved ones are years away from the death part. I know that’s stating the obvious. Being one of the elders is a little unsettling although I still have an aunt who is 101 so I am not yet part of the elder group.


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