|Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos|
There were a lot of challenges to overcome such as travel (none of us live in the same state), schedule coordinating, finding a place to stay and venue for the party, invitations, RSVPs, refreshments and cake, keeping it a secret, and arranging Mom's schedule with her boss since it was a secret. It was a venture that would have been impossible without the aid of my parent's friends and neighbors we used as spies.
That was not the important part. The important part was that for the first time in six years the entire clan was together. For the first time in 31 years all of us siblings slept under the same roof and spent time together. For the second time the cousins were able to play together. It was a gift that we were able to give our parents but also each other.
Mixed into all this, was a sad happening. My father's sister, his last sibling, passed away just days before the party was to take place. After much questioning whether we should cancel, postpone, or continue, we made the decision to carry on as planned. Not because we're callus, but we thought the best thing we could do for Dad at the time was to show him that his family has expanded to children and grandchildren who love him and the startling number of friends who respect him.
My mother gave me a word. Bittersweet, she said. I liked the word because I like to explore the Yin and Yang of language and life. Yes, it was bitter that Dad's sister passed, but it was sweet to have his family and friends around him. It is bitter that we, as siblings, have moved to different states and get caught up in our own lives and families and forget that we have each other to lean on. But it was sweet to gather together once again and perhaps getting together is something we should do more often. And moving on from siblings to our own families is bittersweet but the way of life. Perhaps that's the real surprise.