There has been a death. The death of the family gathering…
As a youngster I have vivid memories of being around my extended family. It was so meaningful to the older generation to sit around talking and spending time together. Seeing someone’s child, the extension of your family, play and run with other family members was a joyful and celebrating occasion.
It wasn’t really something you had to plan and it just happened instinctively. Everyone is getting together at Aunt Jane’s Saturday, bring potato salad. Uncle Fred is frying chicken. Family gatherings took precedence.
The quaint cemetery that lies in the country where my grandparents grew up celebrates each third Sunday in May by decorating the gravesites and visiting with old friends and family. It was so important to my grandparents to be there every single year and it took priority over anything else.
Everyone was required to look their best and be on time and be prepared to stay all day. Bring something to drink or a cooler for lunch because it was hot and you weren’t leaving anytime soon. Old folks patted each other on the back and shook hands.
They caught up on the family gossip and laughed with friends they graduated high school with some 50 years earlier. Colorful flowers were laid atop of headstones, people set on blankets with their picnics and shared memories and watermelon.
Now, if you drive by this same church cemetery on the third Sunday of May, you will see a car or two. The children’s children will run by to lay some flowers out, stand there for a minute or two thinking about the past, then get back into their car and go about their day.
This is no longer an event, it’s an inconvenience and no one can be bothered. The people who cared so much are now resting and we can’t take a few hours of our lives to continue this tradition and visit with one another while paying our respects.
Recently our family celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday. Family from miles away traveled to my small hometown to visit with her, drop off a card and enjoy some food. This was the first time in many years that I saw many of my family members.