I spent the weekend in Pueblo, Colorado at a family reunion. It was the first time Eric met many of my relatives and I was touched again and again by the way everyone welcomed him into the family. I had been a little nervous about sharing that part of who I am with relatives that I only see a handful of times in a decade, but it turned out to be great.
Still, if there was one moment that defined the reunion for me, it was Saturday night after the meal when they moved the tables to turn the church fellowship hall into a dance floor. I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook and it’s probably the most popular picture I’ve ever posted. I posted this picture of my parents dancing to the Frank Sinatra cover of The Way You Look Tonight. I’m no Diane Arbus, surely, but I do think I captured a lovely moment between the two of them.
My folks must have felt like the Brad and Angelina of the reunion because joining me in the quest to get a great picture of them were about 10 or 15 of my cousins. Mom and Dad would look at the camera, smile and then keep dancing. I’ve always known and been comforted by how much my cousins love and look after my parents.
You don’t live into your 70’s without having some lows and highs in your journey. You can expect heartbreak and belly laughs, illness and healing, embarrassments and proud moments to weave together in the fabric that is your life. My parents, of course, are no exception. As they danced together, I thought of the highs and lows, their story of love. If you read my blog regularly, you might know about my Father’s three battles with cancer, the toll it took on his body and, at times, his spirit. And you might know that he couldn’t have survived and thrived without the support of my Mother who doesn’t always give herself credit for how strong she is. But there they were, on the dance floor, hand in hand, cheek to cheek as Frank sang for them.
That night I thought about all the stories of the reunion. I thought about the festive Christmas Eve’s with St. Joseph’s spaghetti and fried bread at my Uncle Rocky and Aunt Barbara’s house. I thought how this was the first reunion without my Uncle Sam, who died a few months ago; his absence was felt. I missed my Aunt Cathy who wasn’t able to be there this year, but asked her nieces and nephews to post many pictures on Facebook for her. (We were happy to oblige.) And I was moved to see my Uncle Mike and Aunt Marlene, who’ve weathered much themselves, also on that dance floor. Some cousins danced, some cousins sat and talked. I don’t think I was the only one a little awash in complex, vivid memories. Reunions are bittersweet occasions.
Anyway, the reunion is over. I’m back at home, drinking my morning coffee, two dogs begging to be taken for their first walk of the day. My heart is still in Pueblo, but it’s also right here in Los Angeles, too. For as long as I live, not just when I’m awfully low or when the world is cold, when I hear this song, a song I never thought too much about previously, I’ll think of this reunion and of my parents and, well, fondly remember the way they looked that night.