Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Family Gathering and Age

Posted to Multiply August 22 2011

That was the nicest family get together anyone could ask for. 

One of the joys of having our son in the same city as his sister is that we get to see both offspring at the same time more often. For many years we'd see both kids regularly, but hardly ever at the same time. 

Daughter and spouse made a  quick trip to retrieve the grandson from his summer in the country, and to visit SIL's parents, who cannot make it to Vancouver due to health problems. The demands of everyone's work dictated a fast trip: Arrival Saturday night, departure Monday morning. It takes about 8 hours of driving. Son decided to come along for the ride.

We often make this an occasion for an extended family get-together here. Once in a while I enjoy cooking my brains out and hosting some people. 
The extended family in this case consists of three sets of grandparents: us, our fellow grandparents, their other grandchildren with parents, and the cousins' other grandparents. We need words for these relationships. 

This was not the best weekend at my end, but the kids said they'd take care of things. Did they ever! 

No matter how early I start, and how much I make ahead of time, preparing a dinner party always takes longer than I think. At least I calculate that in these days. The usual scenario finds me red-faced and sweaty in the kitchen until 10 minutes before guests are due. I am all in favor of cleaning as one goes but find it hard in practice. When people ask if they can help I explain that they can keep me company with a drink at the kitchen table, but because I am a terrible organizer I am incapable of delegating. 

Not so my brilliant scientist daughter. The woman has inherited her grandmother's ability to stay calm in the middle of threatening chaos, and to make efficient use of other people. Both my children are fantastic cooks, with a cheerful rivalry about making  use of all one can find in Vancouver. Critters with tentacles, odd body parts, weird produce from land and sea ....  But for this occasion son graciously allowed his sister to take the lead and did the prep cook/dishwasher grunt work.

I got out of the way and went up the hill to tend to gardens and chickens.
When I got back about 2 hours later all the food was prepped and the kitchen was clean again. All I had to do was shove the meat into a slow oven, make a plate of deviled eggs and a salad and grill the zucchini later. I also took care of desert, a humungous Black Forest Cake bartered for with reflexology.

The young people went to the beach to enjoy the new boat that N's SIL and husband had just bought. I ended up opting for a relaxing bath and a rest on the shady lawn at home. The water is just too cold for swimming this year. Chris has never been a beach person, but I have always been a fanatic. Not so this year. Another sure sign of getting old.

The shift is more noticeable every time we get together. The offspring are both in their thirties, settled into good professional jobs they enjoy. They are the grown-ups now, fully participating in their time. We are becoming the old ones on the periphery, struggling to keep up with new technology. Watch us fumbling to answer a cell phone. 

Guess what: it is OK! One of the more pleasant surprises of age is that so many changes you dread in anticipation are OK when you get to them. Between 60 and 65 I felt ageless. At 68 the years are starting to bite. Or at least nibble. 
I fully intend to remain as healthy and productive as possible for as long as I can. I intend to stay on this land as long as possible. But I won't cling to illusions of still being what we are not. Denial of reality by the old creates burdens for the young. They have a tough enough row to hoe without that. 

And now, I'd better go do my exercises..... 

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