On the weekend I stayed with a cousin of mine in Sydney, who I had not previously seen since a family reunion about 18 or 19 years ago. There were terrible fires burning over much of the state when I flew in on the Thursday, many of them still raging, and this image shows what it was like. Flights were held up as runways were closed, and the city was covered with smoke, which changed to a rather frightening bright red hue that evening.
The devastation caused by bushfires is horrendous, made so much worse by the fact many of them were deliberately lit.
However, strangely, my time with family made me forget the tragedies unfolding.
The woman I stayed with, Chris, is my fathers first cousin, her mother and my dads father being brother and sister (I think?!), which makes us cousins too, although we have no idea if it is first cousin once removed, or second cousin, or what! This was a discussion over dinner with some other friends of mine on Saturday night, and none of us were sure, so Chris and I didn’t feel so bad! I’ve literally just had another discussion about it with my dear husband and another friend, and heard a whole new theory on it… Whatever!!!
Anyway, although Chris is blond, and 11 years older than me, and in reality we had little to do with each other as children other than a few family visits, my Sydney friends thought we were quite similar in many ways, so I guess the psychology research on nature vs nurture is right.
Two weekends ago, I also attended a family reunion on the Dutch side of my family, her side too, and I met about 60 people I had no idea I was related to, some of whom I looked a little like. Chris didn’t attend this particular reunion, but we discussed at length our mutual Dutch and Nordic heritage, of which I know almost nothing. My grandmother died when dad was two, and I suspect because of this, he rarely talked about that side of his (our) family, either because he was too hurt, or knew little himself.
Anyway, at the ripe old age of 55, I’m starting to learn a little more about my heritage.
I’m not sure now if I’ve just forgotten much of it, or never knew much of it, too hard to know for sure any more as so there is much of my personal history I can no longer recall, things like school events, family events, and girlfriends weddings. Even seeing myself in photos, with people or at events or places, does not always jolt my memory into action.
The odd thing about meeting up with family members is seeing either a resemblance in looks, or actions and behaviours. I laughed as I watched Chris running around doing a few jobs on our last day together, as it was truly like watching myself, juggling, trying to fit too much in.
Spending time with extended family means we have the opportunity to face ourselves, which at times can be quite disconcerting, but almost always makes me feel very comforted, as if there is more meaning in life than what I had thought. Thank you Chris for restoring my soul, and I’ll be sure to check the sheets on arrival next time!!! I love you heaps and am thrilled to have spent time with you…