As much as time passes, it remains the same.
This past weekend we hosted a family reunion on Galveston Island. My mother’s side of the family, all four of the Scottish sisters long passed, continue to find ways to pull the clan together. Their spirit is not only ingrained inside each of us who continue to carry the gene, but as tangible as the laughter filling the room as the wooden pieces of another of Jenga come crashing down onto a kitchen table.
Family, when done right, is a beautiful thing.
The truth is, the nearly two dozen of us could get together on a remote patch of real estate with only the shade of a single tree to share and still the laughter would never stop.
My mother and her three sisters grew up with nothing but each other. Living in a small cobbled stone cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, the four sisters learned early on their happiness was always within arm’s reach – that is each other.
After the oldest sister became a war bride, moving to America with her American sailor husband, the other three found their way to the same Midwestern community. At one point, three of the four lived within a square mile of each other – my brother and I able to easily ride our bikes to visit either for a glass of water. The sisters were not about to let a little thing like the immense size of the globe keeping them apart for long.
Holidays of our childhoods were filled with food, music, and laughter. And from my seat, a folding metal chair at the kid’s table, I watched this miracle of love repeat itself year after year.
Yes, it was that good.
Our reunions began within a few years of the passing of the last sister. I believe we all knew something special, something that reenergized our souls, was missing. We also knew, the four sisters would want us to not let the deep bonds they’d ingrained in us to fade. Those of us left behind, although now adults and scattered across the globe, ached for each other.
I’m proud of my family. My grandmother spent her final days dressing in costumes and doing abbreviated Highland Flings for those she shared her retirement home. I grew up with two cousins who’d come home for the holidays with long hair and mysterious tales of a far away land called California. And the four sisters would fight, stop talking to each other, and get over it before the next weather front would come to town.
I learned from the four sisters, love of family is our most valuable companion in life.
Those of us who sat at the children’s table now have our own adult children. And to our children, the laughter and love the four sisters is an all too brief memory. For those of us who watched from the front row, it is the love of family we hope to pay forward.