My dad’s dad was born this day in 1888. He lived to be 98 years old. My mom was born this day in 1937. My mom’s brother and sister were born on her ninth birthday, and she lost another younger brother to cancer on this day in 1988, less than two weeks after her father died. When I was growing up we had a family reunion and birthday party every year on or near June 26. We started them about the time Grandpa turned 88 and continued them for 10 more years. They were always happy times with everyone gathering together to celebrate the patriarch of this large family – eight children, 24 grandchildren and even a few great grandchildren before Grandpa died. I love that my grandparents stayed married for over 50 years despite 25 years difference in their ages.
I always associated June 26 as a good day growing up – Mom’s birthday, Grandpa’s birthday and a chance to see my cousins. We continued the reunions for a few years after Grandpa was gone but when Grandma went into a nursing home, they fizzled out.
This year, my dad’s younger brother is dying from brain tumors. So, when my mom called to thank me for the flowers I sent her, I assumed she was calling with bad news. I haven’t seen my uncle since my grandmother’s funeral nearly 10 years ago. I know I’ll be sad when it happens but why? I’m not cold-hearted, but will I miss someone I haven’t seen in years? No. Will I feel sad because he’s still fairly young? Yes. Will I feel bad for my dad? Of course. But I also mourn the loss of my own youth, and I fear the inevitability of my parents deaths and yes, my own.
So, here’s to June 26 with the hope that it will pass without adding another milestone to my family’s life.