Today is the English family reunion in Columbus. My mother’s side of the family has had family reunions, religiously, since I can remember. This year’s comes on what is probably the worst weekend of the year for me. I’m behind on preparing for the Trauma Recovery Summit in October. It’s the most work I’ve ever had to do for a single project. I am speaking at Helping Parents Heal next week and haven’t begun preparing my talk. Saturday is the day I usually watch the videos for the Positive Intelligence certification program. And today is Saturday. So, I was a little stressed getting ready to spend two nights and two days away from the office.
After rushing out the special edition of my podcast before we left, Kayla, Tywana, and I piled into the car and drove nearly two hours to Brent’s, where the family was gathering for the night before the reunion. It wasn’t an official event, so, there was only shrimp tempura, sous vide chuck roast, smoked and grilled chicken wings, mild and spicy Popeye’s chicken, homemade gluten-free Brazilian cheese puffs, homemade rolls, some sort of salad, homemade macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler, brownies, and some things I’m sure I missed. You know, just your normal impromptu Friday night dinner. I didn’t have the chance to eat before we made the drive. I considered stopping on the road to grab some fast food. What was I thinking?
We hung out at Brent’s for a couple of hours and headed to my parents’. My parents are 84 and 86 years old. Mom is still Mom. She was bustling around cleaning up at Brent’s before we left. When we arrived at her house, three giant pans of macaroni and cheese were sitting on the table, ready to go for today. The event today is catered. There’s barbecue something coming. But, there’s also fried chicken coming from somewhere else. Brent has been told he has to grill hamburgers. Since he hasn’t seen what he’ll be working with, he decided to defrost the 70 burgers, and sous vide them so they’ll be done before they go on the grill. We were instructed to bring desserts. We dutifully brought brownies and the family’s famous chewy bars. There will be approximately 100 people at the reunion. There will be food for at least 200. When I commented on the obvious waste, I was told the leftover food would go to charity. So, there is that.
I figured we’d go to bed as soon as we returned to Mom and Dad’s. They’re no spring chickens. Kayla had worked a full day, as had Tywana. But, Mom and Dad took up their positions in her chair and his couch in the family room, and we started a conversation that ended up being about two hours.
As I made my way upstairs for the night, to spend the night in the room my grandmother lived in from when I was eight years old until she passed when I was twenty-one, I realized how blessed I was to be in this space. Kayla, at 25, was able to spend that time with her parents and grandparents hearing stories about past generations.
By the time I was 25, all of my grandparents were gone. Mom and Dad are still getting around great. Both are mentally sharp. I brushed my teeth and washed my face in the bathroom Brent, my grandmother, and I shared when I was growing up. Grandmom’s room is no longer the space that would barely contain her furniture. Mom has turned it into a guest suite with a huge sitting area where I sit on a leather couch typing this blog in the precise spot where her dresser used to be.
This is the first reunion without Uncle Ronnie. It’s going to be odd not having him around. Uncle Ronnie was at every family event possible, whether it was a family reunion, a niece’s graduation, or whatever. It didn’t matter, he was there. Had he been here last night, we would probably have been up another hour, and I’m sure Tommy’s pizza would have made an appearance sometime during the evening.
I don’t take for granted how amazing it is to be here with Kayla, the younger generation, and my parents. At my age, that’s a real blessing. Every time could be the last. So, even though it’s stressful being away from the office and not able to get some of the things I wanted to get done this weekend, the time with family is way more important. The work will wait.