I am well-supplied with sisters and one of them had a “milestone” birthday so her two daughters held a party at which cousins from far and wide, of various levels of connection turned up to wave the family flag and wish my sister well.
One of the interesting things is there were quite a decent number of second cousins there, which means the significant parents, the couple whose union was the common event which linked us all, are three generations back from the birth of the newest generation, if I have not explained that too obscurely. Life being what it is, or life expectancy certainly, the relevant couple are no longer with us, and are largely unknown by reputation or image to a large number of people who the gathered for the party, yet that very gathering would not have been as it was without said union, of unknown quality, which was either enjoyed or suffered by this long dead couple.
Some may believe that they peer down on us from their favourite cloud sipping tea from a replica set of their favourite china and smiling benignly at this echo of themselves seen in so many lives and experiences: it is remarkable thought to me. I saw and chatted with a cousin I have probably seen about four times in my life and yet there was something of the family culture about her. We nodded across the divide, as it were, and acknowledged our joint routes to this place.
With her was her daughter, who I did not know existed until this weekend, and I was able to recall her great-grandfather and tell her about some of the pleasing eccentricities which made him the curious and charming man he was. He died before this young lady was born, but here he is in her, so to speak, as well as her grandmother and the great great grandparents of whom I speak.
It was sobering, moving and faintly magical to see in the movement of a hand or the quality of manner, those little signs which make us family and joint descendants of this long-gone couple. Their issue now live in a large variety of lifestyles and circumstance but somehow you can see a commonality about us all.
It is both moving and curious and makes me think, as an apprentice grandfather, if in a hundred years there may be another gathering at which a decent crowd of people gather, and they might recollect the mannerisms and people who spawned them as I sit uncertainly on my cloud sipping at my tea.