Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Remembering Mom in Fairfield

After lunch we drove the ten miles to Fairfield, which is the small town where my grandfather's family had run a general store for years and years. My uncle E. did a really great job reaching out to the various cousins on that side of the family, and a number of them showed up to be a part of spreading Mom's ashes near the family's matriarch and patriarch stones. She hadn't specified an exact location, so this seemed like a sensible place. By the stones of her grandparents and her favorite aunt (Helen), and with a pretty nice view too.

sMy uncle said a few words, as did my father.

After the ashes were spread, we took a photograph. What was strange about this whole thing was that it was kind of like a reunion -- except if you're meeting someone for the first time, is it really a reunion? Don't you have to be originally united in order to reunite? In any case, it did seem like a photograph of all the folks would make sense, especially given the fact that a few of them were certainly up there in age. Maybe that's the sort of thing you imply but don't explicitly state. Oh well. Out of the about 20 or so folks, I knew about 8 or 9 and it was strange because I don't think they had seen or really been in touch with Mom in years. It was wonderful that they came, and I don't want anyone to misinterpret what I'm trying to say ... it's just that most of them didn't have much to say when it came to Mom. Unlike in Maryland or Tennessee, people weren't really coming up to me and having 'I remember' moments. And that's fine. It was just different. A family reunion without the celebration. A memorial without the remembering.

After the photograph was taken, we loaded into our respective cars to make our way back to a small reception in our hotel. Again, my uncle did great work organizing the logistics of all this and I'm quite grateful to him. The bikers were everywhere outside of Gettysburg as well. I guess the 'headquarters' for the whole convention were at a campground outside Fairfield, so both coming and going we ran into quite long pauses where streams of motorcycles would be turning in or out of the grounds' entrance. Quite impressive.

At the reception there was a spread of deli meats and cheese cubes and veggies, not to mention iced tea. It was interesting to speak to some of the folks I didn't really know. I was told one story about myself: as a three year old I really annoyed a guy because I kept throwing rocks at his antique truck.
It was lovely to see the cousins that I know a bit better, and I really did appreciate the fact that so many more distant cousins took the time to come and pay their respects.


nc catherine said...

"A family reunion without the celebration. A memorial without the remembering."

Wow, those are two powerful thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Creepy. I am officially M. Helen (as in Mary) but was never called Mary and dropped even the initial as soon as I could.
As I just wrote to your father, this brought to mind the concept of the families we are given and the ones we later make for ourselves. helen