Every family has one designatedÂ favoriteÂ relative.Â The one all the kids want seated at the kiddie table atÂ weddings andÂ reunions. The one who leads the most exciting life according to your young mind; the adult you want to become. You might say the oneÂ litÂ by joie de vivre. I’ll give you a moment to think about your own family and identify this person.
In my case, my mom comes from a very largeÂ family (Jon and Kate Plus 8 have nothing on either ofÂ my parents) but survey any of my cousins and we’llÂ each most likelyÂ name Auntie M, aka CÃ´ Phá»¥ng.Â She’s my mom’s younger sister.Â My earliest memory is that my auntÂ zipped around Saigon on a motorized scooter, independent and carefree.Â She was just too cool for words. Not to say that I didn’t think the world of my mom who was, for her generation in VN, way ahead of her times as an American-educatedÂ working mom.Â Just that… since I was very little I liked the idea of complete freedom onÂ shiny motorized things, unemcumbered by maternal strings.Â But in time Auntie M married Uncle G,
had a precious child–yikes, my cousin ML will kill me for this, but how cute is this picture?–
and 35 years later we all got together on a recentÂ Saturday in Sacramento to celebrate their wedding anniversary, Hawaiian style!
ML officiated asÂ her parentsÂ renewed their vows…
at the luau thatÂ was planned by my other cousin E, who alsoÂ made the cake inÂ theÂ first photo. She’s a new mom to baby W,
whom I got to snuggle a little bit:
There were good food,
great live music,
fantastic hula dancing (loved all the costume changes!),
and of course blackmail-worthy moments (just kidding) (sortof)…
We all loved seeing Uncle G get down, though. He had recently had a very serious operation so this was more than just an anniversary celebration.
Family reunions almost always instantlyÂ age you, especially when they start passing the photo albums around.Â The younger generations remind you that life happens in a heartbeat. ButÂ by far the freakiest moment for me was seeing pictures of my parents when they were younger than I am now–here they are on the leftÂ all those years ago,
and here they are, another lifetime later:
The most sentimental moment for me, though, was seeing pictures of my maternal grandparents, who both passed away when I was in law school.
In my keepsakes box I have these envelopes on which my grandfather wrote, in his beautiful handwriting, some random thoughts to me. It was always a littleÂ odd that the short notes were written on the envelopes themselves, but I think in an unspoken way he was happy each time I stopped by to see them and these notes recorded those visits.Â In this picture of my grandmother, whose life is a novel waiting to be made into a movie, I finally realize why I find sweetÂ familiarity in Modigliani portraits of oval faced women.
It breaks my heart a little that life can’t be as permanent as death.Â And that there is as much sadness asÂ joy in happy memories.Â The only coping mechanism to all this nostalgia isÂ our humanÂ ability to make new memories. So as I already wrote my Auntie M, we’re doing this again for their 40th. And this time, I want to plan the party!
thank you for your sweet comments. the words always come easy to me when written from the heart!
This is a really beautiful entry — you have an elegant and expressive writing style, and the love and affection you feel for your family colours all your descriptions of the gathering. I love reading your blog, but I’m always too shy to comment. This entry was touching enough to make me break that quietness and tell you how much I enjoyed it.