Family reunions bring smiles
COUNCIL ON POSITIVE AGING, By Dolores Kivi
Family reunions are common. They can happen even though modern families are often geographically scattered because the current communication methods are numerous and relatively inexpensive — and that automobiles have made travel more affordable, particularly if the vehicle is filled.
Two of my children live at a distance. My elder son Victor lives in Nova Scotia and my elder daughter’s home is about 50 kilometres from New York City.
This past week Victor has been visiting his siblings here and just west of Thunder Bay while staying with me. I am the one with extra bedrooms even though — like much of the other rooms in my home — they are also repositories of books and papers.
Due to work schedules, we have yet to get all of us together at one time but I feel that some of the best visiting often takes place in smaller groups or one-to-one meetings. My daughter Madelyn (Randy) and I have hosted dinners and there has been time for more intimate visits. To date even the weather has been largely co-operative.
Considering that families have been around (as the saying goes) from the dawn of time or at least the arrival of persons, there are not as many quotations pertaining to them as I expected when I pursued my four books of them — one did not even have the heading and another with more than 2,000 pages had only two quotes.
“All happy families are alike, but every unhappy one is unhappy in its own way,” penned by Leo Tolstoy in his novel Anna Karenina, appeared to be most quoted. I cannot even aspire to write like Tolstoy — alas — but I question whether the characteristics of love, forgiveness and caring (in all its manifestations) are enough to give all happy families an absolute likeness. I admit there can be similarities. What do you think?
On the other hand, Jane Austen penned these words of wisdom: “Nobody who has not been in the interior of a family can say what difficulties of any individual of that family may be.” Her words are ones to dwell upon because most of us know, or have known, a family member who was “picked upon” by his or her relatives.
Perhaps of interest to you too might be some of the shorter quotes on family that I was able to find: “Every family has prize kin” was written by E.W. Howe, while Norman Douglas penned, “The families of one’s friends are always a disappointment.” G. K. Chesterton is the author of the debatable, “The family is a good institution because it is uncongenial.”
The prolific writer of humorous verse Ogden Nash gave us this definition, “A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” And, Kin Hubbard advised, “Many a family needs trimming.”
Blood ties, I would guess, are usually strong. I have seen many dying eyes — of all ages — brighten as their parents, siblings, mate, children or grandchildren came to briefly call or remain with them for their last hours here.
Families differ. Almost all disagree from time to time. Rarely, they even kill one another.
That granted most families, whether widely separated or living nearby, greet one another with smiles. This is largely true whether we are interacting with our family of orientation (our natal family), or our family of procreation, the one that is formed by marriage and/or childbearing.
Like many, I am fortunate. I love my four children, their mates and my grandchildren. And, my dear great-granddaughters. We take pleasure or comfort in seeing one another on a happy day or one shrouded in clouds of mourning.
Little wonder so many of us joyously participate in family reunions.
(The Council on Positive Aging column by Dolores Kivi appears every Saturday. Comments or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)