Linking Arms: Stronger Together

Last summer was difficult in many ways, with the pandemic and a nation divided. Closer to home, the issue was a major health crisis with my parents; one had the health issue, and the other had to helplessly watch their spouse decline, then fight back. It was a challenging, life-changing time, especially for Mom and Dad. Thankfully, they’re both doing pretty well today, although things changed permanently for them.

A few of my cousins at a recent reunion (nope, this isn’t all of us!).

During the midst of this crisis, my cousins were dealing with the passing of their father, my dad’s brother, my uncle. His passing wasn’t completely unexpected, but I’m not sure that made it any easier.

The pandemic made my uncle’s funeral service smaller than what we normally would’ve done. And my parents most assuredly would’ve been among the few that would have attended. My husband and I were with my parents during this time, and I didn’t feel like I could leave them then either. It was a grim time all the way around, to say the least.

I’m part of a very large family, that thankfully, is a pretty tight bunch. Every other year, we have a “cousin reunion” that is filled with more laughter and love than we deserve. So, for all of us to be separated and not able to be together in person was heartbreaking.

However, when I was speaking to my cousin as he was making funeral arrangements with his siblings, we spoke about how difficult it was to be apart while we each were dealing with our individual trials. He then said something that has stayed with me all these months later. He said that we’re all linking arms and getting through this together. The visual image of my cousins all linking arms was an amazing one, and has resonated with me ever since. We couldn’t all be together when we wanted to be, but we could symbolically hold each other up.

I’m personally not always good at reaching out to others, but when I think about “linking arms,” it makes it easier to ask for help when needed.

How about you? Have you linked arms with someone recently, or is there someone you can reach out to and support?

We need to remember that we’re stronger together.

Family Ties

Families can be complicated, can’t they?  We feel lost if we don’t have them, yet sometimes, well…
Recently, my family had our annual Cousin Reunion.  A reunion of cousins, you may ask?  Yep.  You see, there are a whole bunch of us.  56 first cousins.  There are 50 of us left, and a few years ago we started gathering together to celebrate “family.” 
Twenty-three first cousins – Sept. 2013
Originally we had 13 aunts and uncles. Today there are only four of the aunts and uncles left and the days of the big family reunions seemed to be of a bygone era.
But thankfully, we’ve revived this tradition. 
We all know families can be complicated – sometimes we can’t get along without them, and sometimes they can seem like a necessary evil.
I’m thankful to say that I love my family. I love these reunions with my cousins. For a lot of us, our cousins were not only our first friends, but sometimes, our only friends growing up.
So, what’s the purpose of my thoughts today?  I think my brother said it best: after this reunion he felt refreshed.  We had a weekend to love, hug, laugh, and appreciate our history and our ancestors.  
Being with each other unites us and grounds us.  We’re part of something special.
And every once in a while it’s good to reminded of how special our family ties are.