It doesn't happen too often, but there we were, all in one room: my father and his wife, me and my ex-wife, my daughter, and her son. A full four generations. Of course, the first three were mostly watching the fourth, but such is the nature of toddlers, and this one toddles like Chicago after dark.
And the reason it doesn't happen too often is simply that my side of the family isn't particularly close, a fact that has been noted quite often by the aforementioned former spouse, who finds this sort of thing absolutely incredible. "How can you live like that?" she would ask. I'm sure she was never satisfied with my answers. (And not just with my answers, but that's another issue anyway.)
We've always been this way, though. Brother keeps moving around and never seems to have a fixed phone number? No big deal. Sister disappears into the gaping maw of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and isn't heard from for seven years? Shrug. Now introduce into this sea of indifference a person who values family ties more than almost anything, and watch what happens.
The really odd thing about it is that she keeps better mental records than I do, as though she were feeling compelled to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm or something. So when she's in town, she touches every base, makes sure everyone's story is updated, and files it away somewhere for next time. This is, of course, a Good Thing somebody has to keep track of these things but to a certain extent, I feel rather sheepish at having handed the job off to someone who ostensibly hasn't been part of the clan for more than a decade, yet who belongs to it as surely as I.
Or maybe I'm finally getting old enough, and semi-wise enough, to wonder if maybe I (I'm not sure I can get away with "we") should have done things a little differently.
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Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill