Weddings, Christening and Funerals are really the only time that any extended family actually gets together. Now this is down to a number of reasons like spreading out around the country as well as the world but the biggest is plainly that life just tends to get in the way. The children come along demanding our attention for 18 years or so as well as all of our money then what is left is set to keeping a home in good order for the little plumbers to grow up in, then of you are lucky enough to have any sort of time left you get to spend that on what ever it is you like doing...normally at this point that means sleep.
So my Uncles kicking the bucket party was unusual from the offset because everyone actually got together before any of the normal three life events came into play. We all came in from the far corners of the country and further beyond to see him and gather in one place to celebrate life with all that that means.
It was really like walking through your own memories in real time and what an experience that was indeed. Now I am not a big fan of heading out to large gatherings I do prefer the intimacy of smaller groups but yesterday was a fantastic experience full of laughter and life.
I saw friends and family that although all at some point have been a large part of my life had fallen into the fringes living their own stories which is as it should be. Every last one had a grin the size of a Cheshire cats when eyes were met across rooms soon filled by a swift walk over to give a hug that only family can give each other closely followed by an abbreviated catch up of the last twenty years or so.
Much to my own amazement I actually remembered most peoples names! I am not good with names and often stand talking to someone racking my brains trying to recall what I am supposed to call them as Wifey or a daughter they have never met are walking swiftly towards me.
There were young and old, folks that you always expect to see as the last memory you have of them at 12 years old but somehow have grown up got married and had children. They then look at you with the same amazement as you introduce them to your late teen children wondering how on earth so much time could have passed so quickly without them realising.
At one point I found myself walking up and down with my youngest nephew in my arms (a year and some old) just chilling out as you do after lots of running around in a room of people you do not know but that are willing to give you lots of attention literally until you are ready to drop but like all toddlers dropping was not going to be an option if he had anything to do with it. So we were just pacing chatting nonsense about balls (all he seems to like to say at the moment) as he put his head into to my chest from time to time taking just the mini breaks he would allow himself when it all of a sudden occurred to me that it didn't seem all that long ago when I was doing the exact same thing with my baby sister his Mum. As this memory hit home bringing a gentle smile to my face I looked up to see my baby sister sat not to far away looking at the pair of us with the exact same smile on her face and it hit home once again that this is exactly as life should be.
We work hard trying our best no doubt making mistakes along the way that we try to pass to our children that do not really want to listen until they make the same mistakes with us keeping over watch trying to limit the damage.
Life moves on and it is our actions that define us not how good we look or what we wear, nope it is the memories we leave behind along with the lessons we pass onward throughout the generations even after we have long since moved onto what ever lies next.
My Uncle was tired but enjoyed the day surrounded by family and friends, he entered the building to a rapturous round of applause from those there showing that yes they had turned up now instead of later to show that he was loved and to share in the stories of his life. But I have no doubt that a big part of this party for him was to show us all that we are all loved, that it does not matter how long the passage of time has passed since we all last met family is family no matter how estranged we all become.
Is this sort of party for everyone? I have no idea. We are all different and cope with such challenges in many many different ways but what I do know is that for the way our family works this really did work we all got together to celebrate a life that has been and still is being lived. We talked we laughed some even cried quietly and that is all good.
I am proud to be just one small part of that.