My mother’s parents immigrated from Germany in the early 1920s to Chicago. They had two girls who spoke only German until they entered Kindergarten. My grandparent’s home was the extended-family gathering place. THE place to be on a Sunday afternoon. THE place to stay if you just came over from the old country.
Living in Minnesota as a child, and only visiting Chicago once or twice a year, I had a hard time remembering who all these “old” German-speaking relative were and how they were related to me. I would attend a wedding, or dinner at a great-aunt’s, and get very confused. “Mom, who is Onkel Hugo? Is he your cousin or really your uncle?”
This afternoon flashed me back to those days. My parents and I drove an hour up the coast to my aunt’s condo. (My mom’s only sibling just remarried, after being widowed for about 27 years, and bought a place down here with her new husband.) Several of my mother’s cousins – some on vacation, some who winter down here – got together for lunch. There were 10 of us in all.
After lunch, my aunt pulled out about 40 REALLY old pictures of various family members. Once again, I was asking lots of questions about who was who and how were they connected to so in so. I was comforted, though, when I realized that not everyone knew who everyone was, so I wasn’t the only dummy. I enjoyed listening to the accents that are still in the voices of two of my mom’s cousins. Each of them love my mom so much and are very concerned about her health. Throughout the day, I was pulled aside a few times as they asked more direct questions about her condition. It was so nice to see the love and support she receives close up and personal. It has been hard living so far away these past few months as her cancer has dramatically become worse.
There were times throughout the day that I was a tad bored and I felt slowed down by the pace, but I remembered why I came down here. It’s to be with my mom and dad. Plain and simple. I just get to be. No work. No parenting. No working on a marriage. I just get to enjoy my parents. It’s a wonderful thing.