athenagrey: (Water)
The quiet phone calls ripple through the family like the incoming tide. A beloved aunt has passed away. Reflexively, we pack our conservative suits, polish our black shoes, make travel reservations, and converge upon home. It seems strange to call it home, since I haven't lived there for a long time.  But it's home and the family will gather as we always do.

I've been answering the family's  call since I was in my early teens. First at my grandfather's funeral, followed closely by my grandmother's and my eldest uncle's. Our extended family is large, and I wouldn't say we are particularly close.  We don't have picnics or reunions.  We just gather for funerals.

We have a sense of duty that comes from our grandparents, through our parents, and now through us to the next generation. I was gratified to see the cousins' children at my mother's funeral, teens trying to balance the excitement of meeting their distant cousins with the solemnity of the occasion.  The family's future is in good hands. The traditions will survive.

Interestingly, the diverse religions in the family are transcended by a common desire to connect and to remember.  That's what it's all about.  We speak the names, retell the stories, and keep memories alive.

Bertha Chittenden Powers, I honor your memory. You were a quiet and private woman, but you were strong in the face of adversity, tenacious like a sapling in the wind. I am going now to pack my suitcase and travel home. I will help tell your life story.


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athenagrey

June 2012

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