This year is a bumper year for family celebrations in my family. My father recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and he is a very young 80 – more like in his 60s, mentally! It’s wonderful to see him so enjoying his life and being really active in many organisations, including recently joining a choir!
This weekend, it was the turn of my Gran – Dad’s mum. She reached the stalwart age of 100 this last week and received her card from the Queen!! We had a big family re-union in Gosport, on the south coast of England, closest to the Isle of Wight, which is where Gran has lived for a number of years, and were able to re-connect with cousins and second cousins and see the entire 5 generations together in one place! It was amazing. Gran has 4 children, 7 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild who flew in with his mum (he’s only a few months old) from Canada.
We all came together from different parts of the world and the UK, with one common purpose – to celebrate the life of an amazing lady. Gran has seen so much change in the course of her long life, and lived through the two world wars, losing her father to the first one. While she may not have instant recall of everyone’s names, she certainly takes in what is going on, and is far more astute mentally than she lets on!! She was watching her great grandchildren with such love, and although a little overwhelmed at times, she is far more alert and focussed than many people twenty or thirty years younger!
Families can be wonderful or dreadful! I am so blessed to have families on both sides – both my husband’s and my own families – where everyone gets on and enjoys each other’s company. Each family has their characters, each one has clowns that entertain, and each one a core of love and affection. Individual relationships may get a bit strained at one time or another, but deep within the wider core of the extended family is a well of love and respect and belonging.
Celebrations can take many forms – next week, my son is celebrating his 21st birthday with an accelerated free-fall jump from 15,000 feet – but underpinning everything is a deep connection to each other, a trust that we are always there for each other, and that we are joined together in a familial bond that will always be there.
I feel very blessed to be part of that.