Saturday, June 5, 2010

༺ A Family Reunion ༻

On Memorial Day weekend, my family gathered in New Jersey, the epicenter of Swearingens! There were 18 of us. My cousin Kathy and her daughter Izzy from the UK, my brother Ken and his wife Michele from Florida and Jon and I from Indiana.
This was the first time some of us had met. To all come together to reconnect, meet, laugh and cry was cathartic to say the very least. When my Father died unexpectedly on Easter, I think the feeling was that we all needed to come together somehow. This was the time and this was the place. My Aunt and Uncle and their children, my cousins, made it possible.

In recent years, my Dad would drive to New Jersey from his home in Georgia for summer visits. He made memories there that I'm hearing about now. He met his nieces and nephews children and their partners. He reconnected with his only brother and his wife and he had a good time.
This time the party was without him, but his presence was very much there.

On Memorial Day a red twig dogwood was planted in his honor. As the soil was being prepared, the sky grew dark, thunder rumbled and his plant was entrusted to my cousins yard. My Aunt felt their yard represented the 'future'. My brother and Uncle carefully turned the soil. I cried.
Swearingens are particularly gifted with green thumbs and gardening. What flashed through my mind were vivid memories of my Grandfather with his snow white hair, my Dads Dad, tending to his yard. The citrus trees he grafted and the tropical flowers he grew. It was his place of peace. It was like he too was there in seeing his now white haired son, my Uncle, prepare this ground for his brothers plant. Hands and shovels in soil turning the rich earth. Amazingly cathartic. The sky darkened further, thunder rumbled and the winds picked up. It reminded me of my brother Ken and I playing on our swing set before a storm. I loved it then and I love it now! The energy palpable. We were all feeling this emense release of joy and sadness all at one time in concert with the energy of the approaching storm.
I want to remember this moment like I remember the clarity I felt the day Dad died.
The air, the wind, the aliveness of all around me.
A few words were spoken, nothing formal. My little niece said "sleep well Uncle Ken".

That's all that really needed to be said!
Rest in peace Dad- you're loved!



Ginny Huber said...

What a beautiful and touching way to celebrate your Dad..wonderful to see all those members of the family together.

Britt said...

Oh, that's beautiful! I know of several different times when tress (or other plants) have been planted in someone's memory and I think it's a beautiful gesture! Glad you could all come together when needed!

- Britt