Hump Day: Family reunion doesn’t have to be attached to a funeral

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Last weekend, my cousin Allan visited New Brunswick from his home in Massachusetts. I hadn’t seen him in more than 35 years.

His father – my father’s brother – died in May after a long period of failing health. He was the oldest of the family. That leaves my father and another uncle as the only ones left. Still seems hard to believe that everyone is gone except for those two.

I still catch myself nearly asking relatives if they’ve talked to a certain uncle or aunt lately, only to catch myself when I realize that they’ve passed away. Let’s just say that if they had indeed heard from those who’ve passed on, I’d give them a strange look, to say the least. Then, I’d probably run.

Anyway, a few cousins dropped by my uncle and aunt’s house (where Allan was staying) to say “Hi!” Like me, they hadn’t seen him in several decades. All of a sudden, my uncle said something that really struck me.

“You know, it’s nice for everyone to get together and no one had to die!”

It was true. We all looked at each other and had a good laugh over it. I don’t know about your get-togethers, but my family reunions lately have become a synonym for “visiting hours at the funeral home.”

My uncle’s statement gave me an idea. Maybe it’s time for a family reunion. Yup, a good old fashioned family reunion. Why not, eh? My late grandfather’s brother’s descendants had a family reunion a couple of years ago. It was a great success. Better yet, no one had to read about it in the newspaper’s obituaries section. This one was planned ahead and when someone was invited, it wasn’t preceded by a teary telephone call that started with, “I’m calling with some bad news…”

I’m just getting used to answering telephone calls from a certain aunt that don’t end up being death announcements. Now, she just calls when she has problems with her computer or Facebook. I’m still programmed for bad news, though, whenever I see her telephone number show up on my caller ID. I pick up the telephone, wince and brace myself for the latest tragic news.

Thankfully, the latest call wasn’t that someone had died, it was that she couldn’t get her games to work on Facebook. She was scared that her sisters would beat her in the scores. I guess they’re quite a competitive bunch!

That’s OK, though. I’m more than happy to help and relieved that not every call is preceded with “I’m calling with some bad news.”

With that said, maybe it’s time to get a little family reunion planning underway before the next obituary-mandated get-together comes along. No one seems to be on the precipice of a long-term dirt-nap just yet, but you never know. Fate has a funny way of shuffling the deck of cards sometimes and dealing you the ace of spades.

Today, with social media, it’s so easy to organize these types of events. My 30th high school reunion is next year (I’m crying inside, trust me… 30 years!) and my 25th anniversary of graduating university was this year. I still find that hard to believe. The college crowd plans on getting together again next year, so 2012 could very well be christened the Year of the Reunion.

Four years ago, when the last reunions were held, it seems like Facebook was just taking off. Today, it’s a quasi-essential tool for staying in touch with friends and business contacts alike! I don’t mind admitting that I’d be completely lost without Facebook and can’t imagine life without it. I’ve reconnected with so many people that it just boggles the mind. And you know what? That’s a good thing!

It’s important to want to get together with old friends and far-away family from time to time. When my cousin Allan laughed, I saw a lot of his father in him. When another cousin laughs, I swear it could be my grandmother. The mannerisms and speech patterns of other cousins bring back fond memories of aunts and uncles who have long since passed away.

My aunt described where she and my uncle chose their gravesites. When they go, they’ll be in the same general vicinity as another uncle and aunt, as well as my grandparents. It will be like a family reunion all over again – except I hope they’ll forgive me if I don’t show up to that one for a few years yet.

My aunt told me that they’d first looked at two other plots but that they were too close to the road. My uncle said the snow plow would bury them under piles of snow and slush all winter. I laughed when he told me that. I told my aunt, “Well, at least you’re further away from the road so the traffic noise won’t bother you.”

The traffic noise would have to be pretty loud for dead people in the graveyard to lodge a formal complaint.

Then again, you can be pretty darn sure that the heavy equipment operators would turn down the volumes on their equipment if they saw a crowd of permanent graveyard tenants dig themselves out and wander over the complain about the racket.

That reminds me. When I send out the invitations to the family reunion, I’ll have to remember to include one requirement: No smoking… and no zombies!

2 Responses to Hump Day: Family reunion doesn’t have to be attached to a funeral

  1. What a lovely observation…perhaps I, too, will make an effort to reconnect with old friends and family:)

  2. I know what you’re saying about family reunions taking place after someone has passed away. It doesn’t have to be that way. Social media is SO easy to set up a family reunion and get a hold of so many people through one message.