I'm not sure if a funeral is considered a family reunion or not but for some of us that is as close to one as we are likely to get.
I recently traveled up north to a small town in Minnesota with my mom and two sisters; which in itself is a bit of a family reunion, to one of Mom's brother's funerals. Along the way we had stopped in a larger-than-I-had- remembered town where as kids we vacationed to every year, Delano, Minnesota. The home of the infamous parade where I had waved at Hubert Humphrey.
My grandparents had lived there for as long as I can remember (though at times my memory spans the life of an insect). It seems we had spent many years traveling with a car load of kids, sandwiches, pop, and plenty of arguments about who was going to sit in the way back of our red station wagon. We would arrive at Grandma's, pile out and with any luck our cousins would be there to greet us. No matter what though, Grandpa would be sitting on the front porch listening to a Twins game with a grin on his face and a chuckle in his voice.
I remember these cousins as being small, the girls with big beautiful eyes and long locks of blonde hair and the boys I remember as, well just being boys.
It didn't fully occur to me that since of course since I have aged, they would too. Following a trip down memory lane and plenty of "I remember when we got shipped to Grandma's because the Hells Angels were coming to Cherokee and we..."
There was a trip to see another uncle, then we traveled farther north to our destination, way up north, like lots of timber and bear country.
I stood in the doorway of the funeral home waiting for these little kids whose dad had passed away to walk in the door. All's I saw were some strangers come in and hug.
Finally a big eyed, long blonde haired young lady had arrived. Oh my...it was the 25 year old daughter of my cousin that had earlier passed me at the door. Following a few, "which one is which", I was reunited with my "little" cousins. They have all grown up, some with children of their own and by golly some of them are the same ages as my children.
I remember being very close to my cousins, but I grew older and followed my own path and so did they. Those paths turned into roads stretching farther and farther away from our roots.
Seeing them as they are today not only made me feel good for they too have gracefully aged, but also saddened me because it took a tragedy to reunite a family that was once so inseparable for so long. I can't say that this event has once again brought us closer to where we will call and get together annually, but in any event it has brought us closer in the sense that we spent time reminiscing about our childhoods and reminding each other of memories that one or the other had forgotten.
* Trudy Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org