I have just got home after spending the weekend at a family reunion in the North of England. Even just saying the words ‘family reunion’ to colleagues or friends can cause responses ranging from pity to jealousy; from laughter to sighs. A number of years ago my parents decided to get the family together once every two years. Although everyone kept in touch we never really all got together on any sort of a regular basis. And so the Street Family reunion was born. In truth these events are everything you would imagine – fun and laughter, arguments and tantrums, emotion and tears…and that’s just me!
We always hold them over a weekend – Friday and Saturday night – and a couple of years ago we all agreed we would move our reunions to every year. None of us is getting any younger and, as all our children grow up, their lives get more ‘complicated’ and competing interests increase. Once every year was designed to make the event less of a ‘big deal’ for everyone.
This year’s event was a big deal for everyone. 2014 has been a big year for my parents not least because of my dad’s broken hip, and them having to sell and move house, via hospitals and care homes. The whole family were there – literally we arrived by planes trains and automobiles. From Thailand, Spain, Netherland, as well as the North, South, East and West of England. Everyone came. Nothing would have stopped any of us. This reunion weekend had inevitably taken on much more significance. Being there was important. For each other. For my parents. For ourselves.
And yes there was lots of fun and laughter. For everyone. Lots of shouting (but only at the remaining teams in the World Cup). Lots of stories being told…and occasionally being embellished. About this year. About the family. About previous reunions. About my parents. About all the family. Lots of love and lots of affection. Lots of care and lots of support.
My mum was a little subdued on Saturday after an infection. She was much better on Sunday and she just loved the family photos on the sunny Sunday morning in the garden. She never stopped smiling at her family around her. We all smiled back. We hugged her. And each other. We held hands with her. And with each other.
My dad was less mobile than last year…but so much better than only a few weeks ago. He wasn’t as keen on the photos in the sun, but was happy to be with everyone all weekend. He bought a new electric wheelchair on Saturday (more independence). We had to have the top speed lowered (less independence). I shook his hand when I arrived and left, and at the end of each day…as I always used to. I hugged him and gave him a kiss him each day as well…as I never used to.
I have my mum and my dad. My wife and my children. I have two sisters and one brother. Two brothers-in-law. One sister-in-law. Four niece’s. Four nephews, and one nephew’s near fiancee. Today we are twenty one.
My work is important. Our industry is essential. My friends at work are exceptional. My team inspires me. My colleagues amaze me and our opportunities engage me.
But these are my family. These are my people. We enjoy ourselves and we laugh a lot. We sometimes argue and we don’t always agree. We have our moments and we have our fair share of tears. But we help each other and we are always there for each other.
They are so special. And I am so lucky.