Wednesday, 8 July 2015


I met dad's family, finally.

For the first time in my life, I've met an entire side of the family I only knew over brief conversations covering vast distances and now, I've finally met them. Not surprisingly, they're really nice people!

The reasons I never met them before are personal, so I won't go into it. Nothing nefarious or out of the ordinary, I'd just like to keep the reasons to myself. But I've always wanted to, and obviously they felt the same way. My cousin and her daughter flew here from Scotland a couple weeks ago, taking a huge leap of faith in the process. They didn't know what to expect from us, and vice-versa. However they came here, and we had a wonderful time. Never having been to Canada before it was an adventure for them both. We showed them around our little piece of the planet, they took the opportunity to experience Toronto, had dinner in the CN tower, saw the Falls, all the stuff that's on the mandatory tourist brochures. While here, we took them into the county, a couple festivals, the casino, and of course, Canada Day festivities. What I enjoyed most of all though was much simpler - sitting on the porch getting to know them.

When you become disconnected from anyone it tends to hurt. Losing a family member or a friend pains the heart, and if you have the chance to see someone after a long period of time it warms it. True friends never really leave you, they simply take a sabbatical. Over the years I've lost friends and family to death, moving away, or simply drift. In every case there ends up being a whole in my heart. When I do get the chance to see them again I get giddy as a kid. We catch up on old times and plan new ones. The ones that have passed on I remember with fond affection and keep them close.

But how about the ones you've never met?

How do you react? How do you proceed? Does it start with a hug? A handshake? It was actually awkward when they pulled up. Yes, I had talked to them, but I hadn't met them. When the time came, it was a hug. However, it was still awkward. They're family, but in essence, strangers.

We started talking. And talking, and yet more talking. Funny thing is though, that conversation I had expected about the family roots didn't really materialize. For one reason or another it didn't seem as important as simply getting to know them. It's not like I had any intention of attacking her and having her spout off about everyone else over there, and likewise we didn't go into those that were here all that much, it simply wasn't the reason they came here. It was for us, as well as themselves. The adventure of it all, the breaking bread with a line of family neither of us knew existed a short few years ago. It could have been awkward moving on, but it wasn't. It seemed just right. It seemed like they'd always been there, and actually, they have!

Now that they've gone home and life returns to normal I have a melancholy feeling. It seems anticlimactic really, all the hype leading up to the visit seems so long ago now. All the plans and preparations seemed to fade when they arrived into a pool of simple possibilities, the more important outcome was family, not destinations. Family we've always actually had, I just didn't have the opportunity to pour them a wine, and share a laugh together. To talk, to meet. That's the memory I'll cherish; not the parades, the fireworks, the party, or anything else. It was the talk.

So Pandora's Box is open.

We now know what we've always suspected - there's more to this little unit than we knew, and now they are a truly tangible piece of us. I hope they feel likewise. Now onward and upward. I plan on being in Scotland in a couple years to meet more Wilsons. I told my son in a couple years he's climbing Ben Nevis with me, and my daughter wants to hunt for Dragons in Wales. We'll get there.

There's one more challenge before that though, I have cousins in New Brunswick I've never met. I've always known of them, unlike my recent guests, but we've never met. I need to rectify that for the same reasons. Family, whether near or far is much too valuable a commodity to overlook. It's our glue, it's our reason for being. Nobody should ever not know their roots, or those who share it.

We take our immediate family for granted, and in many cases turn our backs on them. The old saying goes that you can pick your friends but... In any case, it doesn't matter how close you are emotionally, family will be there for you when you need them. You really can't count on politicians and metre maids. Or garbagemen. Family is who will be at your side when you need them, family is where your comfort lies.

Family is for life.


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