It’s a Family Tradition

Trillium and violets

My Aunt Karen passed away a week ago. I had planned to go see her next weekend, but my trip got moved up. She didn’t get to see me. To state it briefly, we had a hard weekend. My thoughts, when I allowed them to, ran – naturally – to mortality. I don’t think preparing for the future is a bad idea; however, walking down that path is surely hard enough once, so I try to cap off those meanderings before I go there mentally ahead of time.

Tears, heartache, devastation, frustration, anger, guilt…grief…aside, this weekend was an inspiring one. We arrived at my parents’ home Friday evening amidst a small gathering of friends and (besides – what are friends but the family we choose for ourselves *Thanks for the quote inspiration, Jess*) family. We swapped stories and hugs and heartfelt smiles to a backdrop of young cousins playing.

Zy and Chace - cousins

Addi, looking for the boys

Saturday arrived foggy and chilly – fitting for the somber mood of the day. Family – the extended definition – spilled out of the over-full funeral home, sharing support for one another. After the formal services concluded, many reunited again at my parents’. An incredible, possibly chaotic group effort ensued, and folks who live hundreds of miles from each other shared a meal together before departing.

Brothers (Kade and Zylar)

That evening, a group of us took to the woods and sought comfort in tradition. It was…beautiful. My dad drove my sister (who hasn’t been hunting in years), her boyfriend, and two of his cousins. Tony and I brought my sister’s boys. My cousins Kim and Darren brought Kim’s daughter, and my brother, his wife and 2-year-old daughter came as well. The forest was a difficult one to traverse, with brambles, downed trees, and low growth throughout, but as we were all in it together – young and old, parents and children and cousins and beyond – it seemed an appropriate metaphor.

Till forever, on it goes // Through the circle, fast and slow - CCR

As my (mom’s) cousin Eric pointed out, it was one of the worst days of the kids’ lives (even if they didn’t quite know it), but it was also one of the best. As surely as I felt buoyed by the love and laughter and kindness of my family, so too did they. The comfort we afforded one another was nothing more – and nothing less – than familiar connection. But I cherish these moments, as I continue to find meaning in the mundane. And, so a thank you if you have ever shared with me one of these meaningful, mundane activities that I am so grateful to have enjoyed:

  • mushroom hunting in the spring woods
  • drives to nowhere
  • hands of Euchre
  • shopping trips
  • campfire sing-alongs
  • shootin’ the poo conversation
  • conversation about “things that matter”
  • road trips
  • cold night campfires and fire-cooked food
  • a long walk
  • goofy word games
  • a cup of coffee
  • a great meal
  • cooking or baking
  • crossword puzzles

Feel free to add to my list, because I know I’ve missed some good things. To my family – those both on and off the tree – Thank you for your continued support. I, too, am here for you. I love you.

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14 thoughts on “It’s a Family Tradition

  1. Perfectly put! and my mascara is running! I Love being a part of such a special family. If only others knew what they were missing!
    Thanks Heather!

      • Ok, I had to wait a couple of days to respond to this one. It’s hard to type when your eyes are full of tears! Though I hated the reason for your unexpected return home, I was very grateful for the time we got to spend together. We miss you both so much.

  2. Beautiful-I am so sorry for your loss but grateful that you were able to spend time with ‘family’ and remember how it is the little things in life that we should cherish. Love you!

  3. blessings, Heather. This post was written so beautifully. Goodbye, Auntie. It’s always hard when Mortality meets Life head on. You shared your feelings in a good way. Thank you.

    • It’s probably because I’m getting older, but I was constantly reminded of the great circle of Life last weekend. It’s hard to be graceful about loss, but I think we did okay as a family.

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