Judith, do you think it’s just a coincidence that you look exactly as you do?
Do you think your height, the color of your eyes, or the sound of your voice were accidents?
Do you think your insights into life, your gifts of perception, or your sense of humor were the result of random genetics?
No. You are exactly as you now are, with every freckle, trait, and charm, because they all added up to how you could make the biggest difference with your life in time and space, while having the most fun.
Yesterday I spent the day with my wider family for the funeral of the last of our older generation of aunties and uncles. I was going to write about this today anyway but, typically, TUT has popped up with his usual uncanny bird’s eye view on my world. Auntie Nesta’s funeral reminded me, of course it did, that my height, the colour of my eyes and my sense of humour were no accident as I stood in a room taking tea and sandwiches with a clutch of my cousins and their progeny, with all of whom I share my DNA. And although I do appreciate that TUT is saying exactly the opposite, his message is timely and still resonates.
Despite the different directions in which our lives have taken us, we have a shared history and a bank of memories of tales going back to before we were born.
We are going to have to work much harder now to keep our cousins together because despite our shared DNA we are separated by geography and busy lives. There was an unspoken determination yesterday not to lose that fondly remembered family history but perhaps that was just the misty-eyed sentimentality that such an occasion brings forth.
I lost my last auntie but I regained a cousin, Jane, who had been lost to us for a few decades due to a family dispute which is now behind us since all the dramatis personae have died off. More power to Jane that she’s been to all the funerals, even when none of us knew who she was; never mind, she’s back in the fold now.There are upcoming family reasons to celebrate instead of mourn; births and marriages and wedding anniversaries. And there’s still one lot of ashes to be scattered on the farm – Corton Farm, near Upwey, Dorset, where all our memories are set.
My cousin Pauline brought us each a copy of this photo of “Little Alfie”. I didn’t even know who he was but gratefully accepted it anyway as it will come in useful when I am on Who Do You Think You Are. Little Alfie was my great grandfather (I think) on my mother’s side, after whom Pauline’s father took in the looks department, no coincidence again… obviously. Pauline’s Dad, John, was the short one. Everyone else is a giant in comparison and most of the rest of my relatives would more suit the word Big in front of their first name.
Best story of the day? My grandpa, Jack Symonds, taking the pony and trap on his annual pilgrimage from Weymouth in Dorset to Wellington in Somerset to fetch the cider. “It took him four days to get there and twelve to get back!” Nobody knows or cares whether or not that was the truth, and why let that get in the way of a great family joke? It was true enough of our memory of Grandpa that we all threw our heads back in one communal laugh which we enjoyed again in the car on the way home. Just one of many.
A little emotional sob escapes me on re-reading this and recalling yesterday and the last six decades of my life and I’m grateful for the stories which have made me who I am, for better or worse. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”