This weekend, my two brothers, two sisters, and I are spending the weekend in the mountains of North Carolina with soon-to-be 82-year-old mother. Together, the five of us are the products of 2 marriages, spread out over 16 years. We have never vacationed together as a group before, and likely will never again. But for one weekend, we will be the brothers and sisters with our mom experiencing who we are now, probably a little of who we used to be (that stuff does come up when you get together as a family), and hopefully we will go away with all body parts still intact and a new understanding of our family dynamics.
I didn’t want to wait until the next funeral for this to happen. In our culture, that is sometimes (often) the only reason for spread-out families to get together. How odd but how common, and how special I feel that this weekend will be for creating memories with a group of siblings who live their busy lives three states apart, and do not have regular opportunities to see each other. I wish we did. We do the annual Christmas get-together, and on a rare occasion, the summer picnic. This weekend will be deeply interesting and I’m quite sure, extremely entertaining.
I fall in the middle of the five of us. My older brother is ahead of me by 5 years, my older sister is 3 years away, my younger brother is 6 years behind me, and my younger sister is eleven years below. Together we have ten children, and three of us are grandparents. One sibling had no children. He prefers adorable dogs to the regular pediatrician visit. Two of us have three children each, and two of us have two children each. My mother has two grandchildren who are attorneys, one banker who has dropped that to re-enter grad-school, one who is a Presbyterian minister, one graduating college in December, another grandson who is an accomplished opera vocalist, a granddaughter who embraced the teaching gene, and three who are still below middle school. It is a varied and fascinating crowd.
All families have interesting downlines and ours is no exception. The quantity of this group does not outstrip the quality, as each of us has embraced our American opportunities. Four of my mother’s five children graduated from college (me being the most recent), and two received graduate degrees. One is an accountant, three are teachers (with one of those being a business owner as well), and one is incredibly talented with his hands, creating beautiful renovations in homes that need them.
The weekend, however, is only for the children of my mother. We will come together, and remind ourselves of shared memories, tell each other about the ones we missed (again), talk about our own children and their life choices – some good, some bad – and brag about our grandchildren and dogs. I anticipate that this will be a trip we will always remember. I hope that it will increase the bonds which we now share somewhat tenuously, and that we will come away with a stronger sense of our own immediate childhood family.
I’ll let you know if we survived. 🙂