We got lost somewhere. I'm not quite sure when it happened. But we made a wrong turn.
I remember the Friday nights at Grandpa's, playing wiffle ball in the alley or chasing the dog around. There were lawn chairs set up in a huge circle. I can still see the smiles and smell the cigar and cigarette smoke. I remember Richard mostly and his wild head of curly blonde hair. He could always be found in the midst of the fun.
I remember sleepovers. Hot rollers in my hair and disco music on the record player and everyone dancing... "And if you can stay awake, Michele, you can watch Saturday Night Live in the boys room." I never saw it. Not once.
I remember vacations. I remember fishing and pontoon boats and cannon balls into the pool.
I remember feeling like I was the luckiest kid in the world to be surrounded by such amazing people. And I still feel that anticipation in my stomach when I'm on my way to a family gathering because I hope that when I open the door, it will be just like it was back then.
I remember freeze pops on the front porch. I remember wagon rides. I remember wishing at one point in time that I could be each and every one of you for one reason or another.
But we got lost along the way. Just as people do. We each wandered in our own direction and for some, other things and people became more important. For others, life sucked us in and away and distracted us.
I can't help feeling like we made a wrong turn. I can't pinpoint it. I know life got complicated for each of us in our own way. I know life got complicated for me. And it's not the same now. I miss the excitement of just being together.
Today, I sat around a table with my aunts and uncles and listened to stories about my grandparents and great aunts & uncles. And they laughed like they used to in the yard behind the tavern that Grandpa owned. They said things that I'm sure would have been whispered back then so that "the kids" wouldn't hear. And I laughed. What a gift! What a golden opportunity!
And I worry that if we don't get back on track and figure out where we went wrong that the story telling will end with them. And that my kids won't know you, cousins. I worry.
This family is all I've got.