Six months ago, my 84-year-old grandmother got a far-fetched (read: borderline bat guano crazy) idea: Let’s round up all of Nanny and Giddo’s progeny – including all seven septua and octogenarian siblings scattered across the country and the wellness continuum – for a family reunion. Or, if you prefer, a last hoorah. An Irish wake. A beautiful memory set in the old coal town in northeastern Pennsylvania where my great-grandparents raised their brood.
The thing is, the more she talked about it, the less clinically insane it sounded and the more these seven old siblings got excited by the prospects of playing catch-up, the more they decided that maybe their bum-knees and bad backs could hack the journey, the more they turned idle chatter into action and, at last, a family reunion.
And it was awesome. On one sunny Saturday in June, our family rolled 90 deep: filling a church basement with stories and screeching laughter and slide-shows and games. They posed for a family portrait in the same spot as 70+ years prior. It used to be a barbed-wired patch of green. Today it’s a guard-railed parking lot overlooking a gas station and a couple of crumbling factories. Still, it was the loveliest site I could imagine: seven old people smiling, fulfilled, proud of how they continued the legacy of a couple of young lovers (pictured).
I knew, in that moment, that someday I wanted to be just like them: ogling the house that built me, recollecting days gone by and musing about life in my wake, content that my kid(s) and grandkids and nieces and nephews were going to take good care of the world as I left it.
Without knowing, those seven old people gave me all the motivation I’d ever need to mourn and move on from our IUI upsets…to embrace a less circuitous route to getting what they got. I’m preparing my battle-weary bod for IVF next cycle and prepping my mind for the possibility that it might not work.
At the close of this weekend I didn’t want to end, and at the end of her difficult/joyful/blessed/beautiful life, Gram saw us home to Boston and hugged us farewell. “See,” she said, “These people are your family. And in this family we make it. We’re really something.”
And we really, really are.