Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reunited and It Feels So Good

My mother was a Thibault.  She died young, but her family and my father's family had been close so that I was able to have connection with her clan as well as the one that had the primary influence in my growing up.  Mother had a sister, Lucy, who was the oldest while mother was the youngest. In between were five boys.  Of these seven there were only four who had children:  Henry the oldest boy; Felix, the middle child, Frank, just younger that Frank and my mother.  There were 14 grandchildren who lived although there were four who did not survive infancy and several miscarriages.  There are twelve of us left.  We have been talking about a family reunion for some time.  The last one was in the 1980's and a number of those folks have gone to their great reward.  Believe me the rewards have been handed out as these are pretty special people.

My cousin, Frank, a retired doctorr. who keeps his heart pumping by coaching a teenage tennis team, got roped into being the planner, host, chief cook(actually that job fell to his baby brother, Jep) and bottle washer.  He did a fine job and we had a great time visiting all those people we use to play with in the sandbox. It was also wonderful to meet new members as the newer generation married and is happily producing an even newer crop of Thibaults.

One of my daughters had had a mini reunion with one of her second cousin just a couple of weeks before this big one.  She has just recently moved to Florida for a new job and this cousin's wife was going to be there for a medical conference with him in toe.  When he sent out an inquirey as to good eating places, my daughter responded and they met for dinner.  What started out to be an obligation turned out to be a real connection for them.  They had not seen each other since early childhood, yet everything clicked into place.  As a result, they spent a good portion of their free time together over the next few days.  I know why my daughter liked them so much as I reconnected with them at the reunion and found them very likable and entertaining.

My Aunt Helen was there with her daughter, also a doctor. Do we see a trend here?  She is the last of our parents' generation and as always was loving and gracious.  She was able to meet her grandson's new wife and visit with all of the other family members she has missed over the last few years.  She is such a soft spoken Southern lady. I also loved seeing how different family groups had taken different tracks.  We had a wide variety of lifestyles represented with artists, computer techs, business people, doctors, house husbands, retired people, people from the movie industry, teachers, and the list goes on. Yet everyone seemed to have things to say to the others. Maybe we expect acceptance within families that we don't expect in the general public.  I think it would be so much nicer if I could go through the world with a family feeling towards all of my fellow humans.  This is not to say that I like everything about my family.  This reunion reminded me of all the things I love about being a Thibault, but it also reminded me of some of the things that annoy me about some of them.  The important thing is that the love over-rides the annoyance.  That's how it should be not just among the Thibaults but among  humans.

We're already talking about another reunion next year.  There are few people I enjoy being with anymore than these.  I didn't choose them.  They are just part and parcel of who I have become.  I am grateful to them for making the effort to keep me a part of this wild, whacky ( Didn't I mention the crazy-ness that exists in even the most staid of them?), wonder family.  They are smart and sassy and completely unique.  I loved visiting with them and I'm ready to do it again.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Tell the Story.

Well, what can I say?  I'm back.  After a long dry spell, which as most writers know sometimes happens, I have gotten my grove back.  Of course, some of the problem was that from late September most of my energy was spent on kitchen remodeling.  I am so grateful to report that it is done, and the results are both attractive and functional.  The kitchen was neither of those things prior to this change.  I am one of those people who love beautiful things all the more so if they also have usefulness and fulfill their purpose.

This absence from the real work of writing has given me a chance to think about where I want to go with my own writing.  I find that there are stories, some already written, which need to find homes.  I have been sitting on them far too long.  I was also reminded that we all have stories even if we don't see ourselves as authors; and when we leave this place, those untold stories go with us. 

Not so long ago, I was sitting in a good Italian restaurant waiting to be taken to our table when I overheard the party nearby discussing the merits of recording your life story for children and grandchildren.  There were several stories exchanged that could make great tales for children to read.  The problem was that none of the speakers felt they had the talent to do a good job of writing them down.I know that there are many degrees of compatency when it comes to writing--many levels of literary ability. That should not stop anyone from telling the tale.

I have a gut wrenching tale my maternal great-grandmother wrote down in journal form.  Believe me when I say there are no fancy words, no literary devices--just a straight forward recording of what she was seeing, hearing, and most importantly, feeling. It is stark and it is real.  Because of that, it is powerful. I was transported to her time and learned more of that family than any oral tales of land ownership, linage or traditions had ever conveyed.

I think it is a good thing to know your genealogy; to know where your family came from and what drove them forth to change their circumstances.  I like knowing who the children were and how they fared in their times. I like just knowing the aunts, uncles, cousins and how they connect. But the written story of individuals keeps them human, believable.  Without them, all of our ancestors would be founding fathers and heroes.  That's just the prideful way that people think. 

I had been told over and over of how illustrious my great-grandmother's family was, how glorious was their past; but it was her story in her own words-- raw and painful-- that told me who she was and who several others of those illustrious ancestors were.  That is what you can't find in land records or census rolls.  I cried for her pain, but I'm glad she wrote it down.  Most importantly, I'm glad I got to read it.