Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
With a recent birth in the family, followed almost immediately by a death, it is understandable that I woke up thinking about family this morning. I have written before on this blog about how families are spread out further these days, and how that close contact of my youth has come down to emails, text messages, and rare phone calls, in most cases.
So please forgive the familiarity of the theme.
By most standards, England is a small country. Many of my American blogging friends live almost a continent away from close relatives, and are used to travelling great distances to see them, and having to deal with time-zone differences too. But in this country, one hundred miles is considered to be a very long way indeed. Traffic, unreliable public transport, weather difficulties, and the high cost of tickets or fuel can make physical contact a real issue. Decide to move a long way from your family base, as I did, and you have to accept that there will be less contact, few visits, and only occasional meetings. Add to this the fact that most people are still dealing with having to work, or raising young families, and that tight family unit of the past becomes a fond memory, no longer practical to achieve.
But three things still bring that family together. A new baby, a wedding, or a funeral. Meeting children who now look like adults, having to explain who you are, and what your position in the extended family is. Re-telling family stories, recounting memories of old parties, humorous events, trying to keep such recollections alive in the minds of the younger relatives. Sometimes, old photos appear. Faces unknown to some, familiar to others. We are stiff and uncomfortable in our rarely-worn formal suits, and perhaps a little upset that so many there don’t actually know who we are. Introductions complete, identities established, we proceed into whichever of the three ceremonies awaits us, once more a family.
If only for one day.