Never again a holiday was spent together. The reunions included some of them, but never all of them. Some were forever resentful because my father gathered a few to help my grandfather. That man that made them work since they were nine years old in construction, the man that left their mother for another woman and treated her children as if they were his; he couldn’t possibly be worth helping.
So the separation remained, and it permeated on us cousins – the third generation – for I haven’t seen my cousins in approximately ten years. None of my paternal family had even seen my daughter, until a couple of months ago.
While at my parents I decided to visit one of my aunts, the oldest one of my father’s brothers and sisters (they were thirteen in total, eleven are alive right now).
The trip is almost two hours from my home (not from the Hardcore Country Life, I don’t even want to calculate how long it would be from there), but it’s not the kind of two hours that I travel from the Hardcore Country Life to my parents, for example, because that’s pretty much all in the highway; this two hours? Are all in the rural part of the island, towards the center, going right through the middle where only tiny little winding roads exist. The entire time the road zigzags. I was nervous Baby J would get nauseous, but no, that didn’t happen in that trip. Anyway, that’s another post entirely.
I was also nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself once there, will they talk to me? Would it be awkward? Maybe no one would want to play with Baby J, maybe we would all be there in silence looking at the floor… I didn’t know what to think, it had been such a long time.
But I got there and I hadn’t come out of the car when my aunt was opening her arms to hug me. It was like flashbacks in my head, I could see all the times that happened before, when they received me with opened arms and love.
She only let go of me to pick up Baby J. She looked at my father questioningly first thinking that Baby J might not want to go with her, but Baby J is extremely social and she has an excellent radar to distinguish the vibes of people (gets it from me) so she raised her arms for my aunt, asked for her blessing and gave her a kiss. My aunt then called everyone to tell them that Baby J was so loveable, so cute, and that she looked exactly like me. Which is a stretch, but I was happy about it anyway.
Her daughter (my cousin) came from her house with her three kids (three kids! And she’s about two years younger than me!). She has two girls and a boy who’s only a week older than Baby J. I got a treat of watching them playing and Baby J was over the moon because these two girls were showing her their toys, making her friendship bracelets, showering her with attention and such care. They are two of the most adorable kids I’ve ever met. The boy is mischievous, but very talented musically (which runs in the family).
And me and my cousin? We talked our hearts out about so many mothering things we do in the exact same way, we have these pet peeves that we share even though we had never met each other after motherhood.
She showed me pictures of all the kids of my other cousins, they all have more than one kid so my paternal family has grown exponentially and now we can not make a reunion unless we find a place that complies with the requirements of the Fire Department. It would be like three hundred people. I’m not even exaggerating.
We decided to surprise another one of my aunts. I felt a bit better but still had some nerves because who knew, maybe she would be different. But oh, she was right on top of us with the biggest smile in her face. She took out a box of toys (from her grandchildren) for Baby J to play with.
We came back gleaming from happiness. Exhausted, but so happy. And I remembered how it felt to not have to worry about saying the right thing, looking a certain way, doing something wrong, am I holding my hands in a weird way? … this was no Hardcore Country Life, this was my family.
And I was home.