It only happens every other year; fittingly, the odd ones.
Odd because this family reunion doesn’t feel like ‘family’ – it’s from the side of the house that split off when I was about seven years old. Also odd because I still feel compelled to entertain connecting with it anyway. There’s a kind of mystique involved with it. Opening that skeletal closet of the past and trying to revive what bones are still shaking and able to dance and relate to you.
We’re talking the ‘old country’ here. Sojourners from the land of Bohemia who made their way to, of all places in America, Kansas. Of course, L.A. and show biz hadn’t caught on yet. In fact, the ‘Westward Ho’ thing had barely started. So I guess one plot of land was as good as another back then.
Now a plot of another stripe is gestating – a road trip to the reunion that includes taking my 94-year old mother. Do I risk bringing her along, having to disguise this portion of the trip with a simultaneous visit to my maternal cousin, who also lives in Kansas?
This would be followed the day after with a visit to my older sister one state over in Missouri. A family reunion triple header for my daughter and myself, a two-fer for my mother. All of these relatives have been distant ones – both physically and emotionally – for decades. In fact, the ones I most recently visited in person were my dad’s!
Then there’s this tug on my conscience that maybe I should include my younger sister as well. Even though staying in touch with her has often turned adversarial even before the call is over, she might appreciate the chance to connect with the “other side” so to speak. She successfully underwent lung cancer surgery recently and missed connecting with that other ‘other side’. So maybe she’d be open to exploring these less familiar family ties. Or it could be yet another gesture of inclusion that gets twisted and dissed. Ah, family! No reunion required for our core members. Maybe that’s what drives the mystique of the familial unknown for me.
We moved to Texas a year and a half ago from California. For sure it’s not ‘L.A’. or show biz-zy here – unless you’re a sports or country music fan; but, oddly enough, it’s akin to my estranged kin. Here I’ve discovered kolaches (where ‘pigs in a blanket’ came from) and other cultural phenomena related to my dad’s side of the family – a Czech list, so to speak. And even though the feeling of connection is minimal, and the jeopardy of discord inherent, it’s a journey I want to take as does my grown daughter. Just hope the family I know are up for a trial reconnection. Even if they’re not, we’re still going.
Considering the length of the get together, my patriarchal side must be a lot like my matriarchal side. They only reunite for the better part of one day. Ya blink and . . . ya know? Drama and trauma over. Till the next ‘odd’ reunion. I like that in a family!