The stuff that reunions and families are made of

I saw the new baby last week. I held his sweet little self in my arms, inhaled his brown sugar baby smell

I saw the new baby last week.

I held his sweet little self in my arms, inhaled his brown sugar baby smell and gazed at the world reflected in his innocent blue eyes.

I held the child close to me as I sat in the rocking chair in the cheerful nursery. And as I rocked, the sun played peek-a-boo with the wall hanging that says, ‘I’ll love you to the moon and back’, and his two older brothers played at my feet.

The two-year-old watched me closely, finally pulling his thumb out of his mouth long enough to tell me proudly, “that’s my new brother.”

The five-year-old took great pains to explain to me that the baby who is now two-months-old has many talents.

“He can roll over, he can kick really well, he can wave his arms and he can smile already,” he said, puffing out his little chest with pride.

I rock the baby slowly, and with every creak of the rocking chair, I feel my hurry up deadline driven world slow down.

I rock slowly, comfortably, steadily. The children play and the baby slowly closes his eyes.

And time, as I knew it, stood still.

As I rock I let my mind drift out of the nursery and to summer and the red-circled days of summer.

Reunions! Summer reunions!

And I think about the people who attend these reunions. A long, long time ago, they were all young, just as these three boys are now.

Somebody’s brother. Somebody’s sister. Playing together. Bonding. Feeling that family pride that is born somewhere inside like a tiny flame and lives on forever.

It starts here, I think. This pride thing.

It is the invisible thread that binds reunion goers together. It is the excited feeling behind the name tag, the sparkle in the eyes hidden behind the progressive lenses, the laughter that bubbles up out of nowhere; laughter that spans the barriers of bridges long since burned and time and distance.

They come to these reunions from every walk of life and they come from all over. Farmers. Accountants. Teachers. Nurses and doctors. Ranchers and lawyers. Grandmas and grandpas. Great grandpas and grandmas.

They converge at halls and Legions and other venues wearing nametags and smiles and hope.

They want to remember. They want to go back.

I watch my grandsons play quietly in the pool of sunlight on the floor. Once, each and every one of these nametag-bearing seniors was young like this.

Once, a long time ago, they were somebody’s kid, somebody brother, somebody’s sister.

Once they ate their lunch out of a tin lunch pail, suffered the indignities of the strap, learned long division, struggled through exams and failure, experienced their first kiss and their first heartbreak. And then, one day, they moved on.

Now they have come back.

I got to take a walk down memory lane with a few old timers’ from Rimbey the other day at their reunion and as I talked and mixed and mingled with them all it was like the clock in the hall spun backwards for several decades and they were all young again.

“This is my sister,” a grey haired lady with a sweet smile told me, as she introduced me to the woman sitting beside her. “She’s 91.”

And the pride in her voice was not dimmed by time or age or separation, but like my grandsons, it was strong.

It was, in fact, unmistakable.

ON THE OTHER SIDE