This is family reunion weekend.
Attendance has waxed and waned over the years. Uncle Myles and Aunt Pat passed on. We no longer see much of the NY branch of the family. Uncle Steve passed on just a few years ago from cancer. It was quick. Aunt Marie has Alzheimer's and Uncle Howard needs looking after.
Some of the cousins are stalwarts. They show up every year. The attendance of others stuttered, then stopped.
Cousin J. is one of the cousins who I am closest to. He recently had a bout of bowel cancer but seems to have rebounded. Everybody has their fingers crossed. He has been a "contractor" since the Reagan years. Every year the IT work done by his "unit" is put out for bid. Every year a different umbrella company wins the bid. Every year his entire unit is summarily fired by the old supplier and rehired by the new bidder. Every year he restarts his vacation and pension. Physically, nothing changes, not even a new coffee pot. It is like the movie Groundhog Day. Except that it is not funny.
I expect that J. will relieve me of the 1919 Swedish Mauser that I bought recently. That will be OK.
I will eat WAY too much. I will talk and laugh too much. I will likely consume too much adult beverage and Mrs ERJ will drive me home. My children will not recognize me. Or, more likely, they will not want to acknowledge me.
We will shoot firearms, much to the glee of our east coast cousins. We will tell outrageous lies and stories that are funny only to us.
We are fatter, and stiffer and grayer than we were 40 years ago. Except in our minds. In our minds we can still throw two sleeping bags a watermelon and 10 pounds of Oscar Meyer hotdogs in a cooler and drive a van across the country.
Grandpa Jake created a bit of a scandal when he married my grandmother Alice. She was (whisper, whisper, older) than he was. And she was Irish. He was German. They bought a Sears Kit House two blocks from a Catholic Church. They raised a boy and three girls. They sent the boy off to WWII and the girls off to college. That is what happens when you marry a strong minded, older, Irish girl. Their opinions carry a lot of weight.
Both Alice and Jake passed on in the 1970s. Now Bob and Ellen run the show. And they are showing their age. We are blessed to still have them with us. Nobody talks about how much longer that might be. Every day is a gift.
Pictures will follow early next week. For this weekend, I am not planning on being a blogger. Rather, I am going to be one of Jake and Alice's 28 grandkids.