Yesterday, I wrote a text to my children and grandchildren to let them know that Douglas and I are planning a trip. To save time, I created a group text. I just did not want to send 16 or more texts. But, what occurred was eye-opening to me.
As people started to respond to the text, some of them began to greet each other, such as my son to my granddaughter, “Hey, Uncle misses U.” As cousins replied to each other on social media, some of whom live in the same city, I realized that they never see each other or even communicate, and I was completely taken aback.
It is unacceptable to me that cousins the same age or near the same age don’t really know each other, and, therefore, they cannot be a source of help and support for each other. How do I fix this seeming chasm within my family?
I am the matriarch, not in a power and control kind of way, but in the fact that I am the oldest female in the family, and therefore the nucleus of this band of amazing people. It is through me that they should all have access to each other. It is like they are a constellation of human beings related to each other through me.
I am the point of contact for relaying news of marriages, births, and deaths. I generally let everyone know when something major happens, but because I live far from nearly all of them, as a family, we rarely come together for holidays or important moments, such as a wedding. I realized that I was following a pattern that must be broken in my generation, if change is to occur. But, I have no blueprint for how to alter the situation.
My mother never took us to visit her two sisters and their children, and we lived in the same small city. I did not know about any family reunions until I was an adult and my cousin said she wondered why we never attended.
Although my paternal cousins went to family reunions, we did not attend them, either we were not invited or Mama chose not to go after her divorce from Daddy. Indeed, I dated a guy after high school, and he invited me to his family reunion. You should have seen my face when I saw my father’s oldest brother there and his kids, and realized that the guy and I were related through marriage. His mother was my aunt’s sister, so they said that we had to end the relationship. You think?
So, there are cousins from both sides of my family whom I have either never met or have not seen in nearly fifty years, and they have children and grandchildren who do not know my kids and grandchildren, and that is a shame. I have envied families having reunions, with matching T-shirts and enough food to feed an army. I watched them in the parks as we walked by, and I wished that could have been my family.
I don’t know why my mother isolated herself and us from her sisters and other family members. But, I seemed to have done the very same thing, but for reasons that I can explain. First, it was not part of my upbringing to associate with family, so I did not understand its importance.
I did not communicate with my cousins over the years, so they did not think to invite us to family gatherings. I would have gone, if I had received an invitation. I cannot tell you the number of times I found out about a reunion a week or three weeks AFTER the event.
I simply never thought about having a family reunion, just happy when some of us got together at holidays at my youngest daughter’s house. But, after watching my family members connect through texts, I know that I must start a new practice of bringing family together, either in Atlanta, where the majority live, or here at my home. School has started for the youngest of my grandchildren, so maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving will be best, but they have to know each other. I cannot allow another generation of cousins to become strangers. I believe that God requires it of me.