I just returned home from California where I attended my cousin’s wedding. Actually, the groom, Chris, is my second cousin, the son of my cousin Martin. I hadn’t seen the groom since he was a little boy, or my cousin Martin for probably 25 years. I used to babysit Martin. When I first saw Chris, I thought he was my cousin. He looks so much like his father as I remembered him. So it was a surprise to see Martin with gray hair and a gray, neatly trimmed beard. He looked dapper in his tuxedo. In the words of another family member, “he fought his demons.” He found religion and changed his life around.
I also saw my Auntie Pam and Uncle Colin. When we immigrated to the US in 1955, my dad and Uncle Colin made the journey a month before my mother, brother, Auntie Pam and I did. We crossed the Atlantic on the lle de France and cleared customs in New York. Until we grew up and had families of our own, Auntie Pam and Uncle Colin were our only relatives. Everyone else was back in England and fifty plus years ago travel was not as accessible as it is today. Auntie Pam was much as I remembered her, but Uncle Colin is fighting medical problems and is stick thin and wobbly. I thought that this was perhaps the last time I would see him.
I had carried my memories of my family for so many years without seeing them that I was shocked to see how everyone had aged. Everyone was so old…still attractive, but so much older than I remembered them. I see my immediate family on a more regular basis and somehow the march of time escaped my notice.
We are an immigrant family success story. We came to the U.S. with very little but a willingness to work and contribute to our new homeland. We have thrived. The next generation was born in the U.S. and went on to college and careers. There have been individual challenges, and even some demons to slay, but all in all our family has had opportunities that would not have been available to us in England.
There is much to be grateful for, and seeing everyone at the wedding reminded me of our history and how much I take for granted. Time marches on and I haven’t made the time to celebrate with my family. They won’t always be there; I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to see them again and touch my past.