Yesterday, I participated in a "cousins" family reunion on my father's side. I don't know if there will be another one. It gets harder and harder to fit things in.
Things were different last time (the reunion I blogged about yesterday, which took place five years ago next week). It seemed like a lot less work. My spouse cooked on the grill. We stayed up, laughing, until almost 11 pm.
Now, the planning was almost like climbing a mountain. All of us had less energy. We all had aches and pains. One cousin was recovering from surgery. One had a painful problem that going to various doctors hadn't diagnosed. The wife of still another cousin had obvious problems with her balance.
No BBQ this time. Cousins chipped in for platters prepared by a local supermarket.
By 9:15, when the last people left, there were more yawns and bleary looks than laughs.
I haven't mathematically figured this out, but I think I am past halfway in the age range of the cousins on my father's side. There are twelve of us cousins in all, ranging in age from mid 50's to 70 (or perhaps slightly older than that). Not all of us were able to come. We talked by phone with one, and by Skype with another. Still others had too much going in in their lives.
I was grateful for this: All of us are alive. We have memories. All of us are "here" mentally.
After eating, we talked on the phone with the last living biological uncle, who is in his early 90's. His wife, who is younger, is our last aunt. They live about 850 miles from us.
When asking him how he was doing, he said "not bad for an old man".
I flashed back to when I visited him as a teenager, when he was an energetic man in his 40's, raising three children (my youngest cousins). Now, those young children are in their 50's.
If we wait for another five years, Uncle may well be gone.
Not only him. Some of us may well be gone.
We are blessed - all of us are alive. Our spouses (save for one of us, and she could not come) are alive. All of our children are alive. The same can't be said for other people my age I know, people who have lost spouses, lost children, lost siblings.
We are fortunate, but we know it's only a matter of time. The clock is ticking. That next reunion can not wait another five years but will we have the energy to put it together?
One day, I can only hope, we will be saying "not bad for an old man" or "not bad for an old woman" to the children of the next generation. Somewhere. Somehow.