Even if she’d died another time of year, I’d still think of her around this time – Thanksgiving at The Ranch, with all the family gathered was perhaps the closest we ever got to matching any kind of picture of what any holiday was “supposed” to be. Or to look like at least. Big long table, all the leaves put in, and still not enough room, so there was the kids’ table. Being occupant of said table also put one on dish duty, and my memories of Thanksgiving have a large component of time at the sink. And starting to see the counter and thinking we were near to done, only for it to be filled with more dishes or the pots and pans or WHERE WERE ALL THESE DIRTY THINGS COMING FROM???
Anyway, this time last year most of the family gathered to scatter some of my Grandma’s ashes. It was bittersweet, of course because of the reason we were there, but beyond that it had been a long time since that many of us had been there together, and I’m not sure it will ever happen again. We did share a meal, fortunately there were many fewer dishes to wash.
The scattering was up in the Big Field, with a view of the horse barn. I think the original idea had been to scatter where my Grandfather had been scattered, but no one could quite remember where that was, and, as someone pointed out, it wasn’t like they hadn’t been in different places before. (He passed before I was born, and, for a few years after they bought The Ranch but the kids were still in school my Grandma stayed in town with the kids and Pop was out on The Ranch.)
My Dad is one of 5, then there are 8 in my generation. 3 are older, but there are 5 of us who are within a couple of years in age. Of the 5 younger, my sister is the only one who had a kid, so my nephew does not have any cousins close to his age. Not to say he doesn’t have fond memories of cousins playing with him, but after a morning of playing with a cousin from the next generation with an ~8 year age gap (at least what there between him and his generation cousins), and seeing my sister and I with our cousins, he made a semi-wistful, but mostly matter-of-fact remark about not having any cousins his age.
I was touched and proud to see him take on the role of big cousin though, and hang out and play with his younger cousin and look after him so he didn’t fall in the chilly creek. And to do so without being asked or instructed – he seemed to realize – as others played with me, now it’s my turn to play with someone younger than me. It might not have been quite what he wanted, but the wheel of family turns.
And, me, who is trying to get rid of stuff – well, maybe declutter/get organized is more what needs to happen – now has a four-poster bed and rocking chair from the final throes of the diaspora of my Grandma’s things. Also, temporarily, a painting of a goat – having a vehicle large enough to easily accommodate it I’ve been tasked with returning it to The Ranch. Like most of her things, I don’t know the story of it, but it definitely makes me think of her.