I got an offer in the mail today to have my name listed in a Who's Who publication of executive and professional women...Honors Edition, no less! I got a chuckle out of it, because I guess they didn't get the memo that I've retired! It asks for my "personal specialty." Bird watching? Journal writing? Hee hee! I think I'll pass.
The sad news about Ted Kennedy got me to thinking about how much tragedy the Kennedy family has had to deal with. Of course, every family has its own tragedies, as does my own family, but the Kennedys have been called the American Royal Family, and as such, their tragedies are very high profile. John Kerry said a nice thing a little while ago, essentially that he hopes that we (a thinly veiled reference to the press) will respect the family's right to privacy. It's been nonstop coverage on CNN since they announced the news, so I hope things will settle down soon. He's got some serious battles ahead of him, and I say let the family deal with it without extreme public scrutiny.
It also got me to thinking about how important family is. We can all rejoice in each other's triumphs, but we can also comfort each other when faced with sadness and tragedy. I'm very fortunate to have a large extended family, with aunts and uncles galore (sadly, many have passed away now), and hundreds of cousins. I'm not exaggerating--I literally have hundreds of cousins, including first cousins and once-, twice-, and thrice-removed ones. Then there are all the second and third cousins, and all the cousins-by-marriage...it's mind-boggling!
So I understand very well the importance of family. On the occasions that my family is brought together by an illness or a death, we provide solace to those who remain and we honor those who have left us. Such a gathering is a reminder that life will go on. These gatherings always include food (I think it must be in our family code or something), and sitting down with each other to eat and chat gives us a chance to get caught up on things. We rarely speak of sadness at these dinners--that is dealt with during the funeral, and later, in private--but we remind each other that there is life yet to be lived. We see the kids that have grown like weeds since we last got together, and we understand that our sadness is but one small part of life, and if we are fortunate, our joys will far exceed our tragedies. As the dinner goes on, there is always laughter to be heard, and we depart each other's company knowing that we have helped each other on our way towards healing.
Ken has a fairly small family, and I think he was more than astonished when he realized just how many of us there are! At the first family reunion I took him to, I was trying to explain who this was or how that person was related, and there were even times when I said, "I have no idea who that is." (This was usually about some of the younger kids who I hadn't seen for a few years.) And he's only seen the tip of the iceberg, because family reunions these days typically don't draw as many folks as they used to. I find it a shame that anyone would restrict kids from being exposed to such a large, loving family, because kids these days need all the love they can get.
In this sad and frightening time for the Kennedys, I wish them all the strength that a large, close-knit, and loving family can bring.