In crisp clear memories, I can perfectly remember what life was like as a child. As sparked by a Picasa album my oldest sister sent to me today, I remember the beach. Whether it be the ocean or the river, I remember being a child on the sand with my family. It comes as no challenge to place each and every one of my family members there with me. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and siblings. That same family was always there for holidays and birthdays and births and deaths. All of it held together by the patriarch and his wife. My grandparents. For most of my entire life, that was the structure. All of us were there, in varied ways, as a result of their coming together. I grew up enjoying my childhood and growing with my family under the blessing and experienced watch of my grandparents.
The pictures my sister sent were of her's and my other sisters children playing on the beach. The very same beach that I remember. Nags Head, NC. All of my family is there now. Parents, sisters, brother in laws, nieces, nephew. I am not. I am in New Haven, CT working. My grandparents are not there. My aunts and uncles and cousins are not there. Something is a little different. The pictures in front of me reflect a whole new family when compared to the pictures in my mind.
As I flipped through the 100+ pictures that she sent I started to ask myself "When did the shift take place?". At what point did my immediate family become so large and when did my extended family get enough of their own that we all drifted far enough apart to take the crown of the king and move it down a generation? I suppose the obvious answer is the day that my grandfather died. That doesn't seem to be the day though. There were many years after his passing that we still conformed to the idea of family that I created as a child. We passed his duties on to my grandmother... and she is still alive and well. So when did it happen?
It isn't some great revelation or even a question that needs to be answered. It something that happens all of the time to every family on the planet. I guess I just thought things would always be the way they were. I never grew up. I never had kids and helped the family get bigger and move along down the generations. Maybe I just figured everyone else was doing the same thing... you know, despite watching them not do the same thing. I always envisioned the family one way but I am okay with it evolving. The roots of the tree have gone deeper into the dirt and the branches are climbing closer to the sun. I just hope that while they are flailing around in the wind that they look down and respect the trunk for being as strong as it is.
I love you MeMa. I miss you Kong-Kong and Nannie. I'm proud of you Mom and Dad. Good Luck.