My mother’s recent death at the ripe old age of 95 marked the end of an era. Suddenly, my three sisters and I were a part of the oldest generation, the elders who now are responsible not only for carrying on the family traditions but, in the case of my family, just keeping the family together.
Mom was the glue that held the family together, and now that she is gone, there seems to be a severe shortage of glue for my sisters, my cousins, my nieces and nephews to hold the family together.
As we gathered together for last week’s memorial service for Mom, I could not help but wonder if we would ever again be together as a family. I certainly hope we will be, but it won’t be easy.
For the last two years, I have made two or three trips a month to visit Mom in Washington Court House. Now that she is no longer there, I wondered if I would ever again be in the town where I grew up. Probably, but maybe not.
I still have a first cousin, a niece and a nephew in Washington Court House and I’m fairly certain my wife and I would be welcome in their homes during a visit back to Fayette County, Ohio, but beyond that, I don’t have a lot of reason to return “home.” I will probably visit the graves of Mom and Dad, my maternal and paternal grandparents and a beloved uncle during the Memorial Day weekend. After all, my wife and I have been doing that for many years. The only difference is this year Mom’s grave will be added to the list of those to “decorate” on what we used to call Decoration Day and we always visited Mom that weekend. This year we will have to find someone else to visit.
Two of my three sisters have an added reason to return to Fayette County. They still own Dad’s farm. I sold my third to them many years ago and, in so doing, closed the door on ever returning “home” to Fayette County.
While I have friends who have spent their entire adult lives dreaming of returning to their hometowns when they retire, but I have never had such a desire. Ashland is my home. Fayette County is just where I am from and nothing more.
My sisters and I are not particularly close. While the two sisters who own the farm talk regularly, my contact with my siblings is mostly limited to a phone call on their birthdays — if I remember. My wife and I have occasionally visited their homes, but not often.
We didn’t even spend much time together as a family at Mom’s funeral. Because the weather was horrible, one sister and her husband, son and daughter left soon after the services to travel to Columbus to get a room for the night near the airport. Another sister spent most of the time with her three children who were in town for the services. After having a meal with my children and grandchildren following the services, my wife and I played cards with my sister and brother-in-law at the motel where they were staying until nearly midnight. That was fun. My sister and I got “creamed” in a game of “hand and foot” against my wife and brother-in-law, but we got even when we played Euchre.
On Saturday morning, we had breakfast with my oldest sister, two of her children and my cousin and his wife before departing for home to watch my granddaughter compete in the district Governor’s Cup competition.
As we drove home, I wondered if my family would ever again be together. It likely will be years before any of Mom’s great-grandchildren will be married, and weddings, like funerals, are always an occasion for families to get together. Well, come to think of it, Mom’s great-grandson is a senior in college and a great-granddaughter is a freshman in college. So maybe it won’t be so long before we gather again as a family — and this time for a much happier occasion than a funeral.
Still, it is going to take work to maintain my family’s ties. As an elder, that is one of my responsibilities.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.
com or at (606) 326-2649.