Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Family Ties

My mother comes from a large Irish Catholic family.  She is one of eight children.  I am one of 32 grandchildren on my mother's side.

Growing up, I remember lots of family functions in my mother's hometown.  I always knew all of my cousins' names.

Years and years have passed. A majority of us McNelis grandchildren are married, with children of our own.  We've lost touch.  Moved away.  Now, I barely know my cousins' spouses or childrens' names and would certainly not recognize them.

Facebook has actually helped us to reconnect a bit from long distances.

It's nice to remember where you come from.


My Uncle John passed away last week.  He was my mom's oldest brother and had seven children of his own.

My parents happened to be here in Massachusetts when he died.  I followed them back to upstate NY for the services.

I was able to see cousins and aunts and uncles whom I haven't seen in DECADES.  It was heartwarming, yet heartbreaking.  Time marches on.

It's nice to remember where you come from.


One of the benefits to traveling to NY was that I got to be an "only child" for the weekend, for it was just me, my mom and my dad in my childhood home.

I watched Downton Abbey. (Just started Season 3!)  (If you're not watching this, why not????)

I slept.

I watched TV with my parents.

I felt like a child again, with no responsibilities or pressures or dirty laundry weighing me down, if only for those few days.

It's nice to remember where you come from.


My mom was at first confused when I told her that I would be going with her.  She thought I was simply talking about Middle's basketball game (which we all attended the day we left for NY) and didn't realize that I meant that I would be going to the funeral services with her and my father.

I wanted to be there for her, to support her in her grief, because she does so much for me and my 3 siblings.  She's our rock.  Our constant.  We all rely upon her, in so many many ways.

It's nice to remember where you come from.


The funeral services were rough.  The grief from my Uncle John's children was palpable.  The grief from my Uncle John's siblings was heavy.  With death, each of us is confronted with our own mortality.  Our parents' mortality.  Our siblings mortality.  Our childrens' mortality.

It's not easy.  It's never easy.

And add in the sound of the sorrowful wail of bagpipes?

Puddles of mush.

After the services, there was a family gathering.  And as with any large Irish Catholic family, there was food and drink(s).

It felt odd to be saying to long-lost cousins, "So good to see you!" under the circumstances, but it was.  It was good to see everyone.  It felt familiar.  And reassuring.  And comfortable.

It felt like Family.

It's nice to remember where you come from.

Rest in peace, Uncle John.


amanda said...

i understand this to my core...

love and hugs to you and your family.

Marianne said...

I am sorry for your family's loss, but happy that you were able to reconnect with all those fantastic Irish Catholic cousins who make mourning an artform. Very touching piece and I am glad you were there for your mom.


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