A cat by any other name




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Meow to me

Saturday started early, with family members trickling into the park to drag picnic tables into some semblance of order in preparation for the reunion. By noon, everyone had shown up and my aunt startled my mom by asking the newest clergy member of the Hickson family to offer the prayer. My mom isn't used to doing that sort of thing - as she put it, the people she usually prays with are sick or dying (she's a hospital chaplain). Nevertheless, I think she was pleased. Ministry has run in the Hickson family for several generations, and she is merely carrying on a family tradition. My mom's family have been Methodists for a long way back, and religion always plays a minor role in their lives. We all joined hands as my mom gave a prayer, and as the reunion drew to a close, we all sung a few hymns, those of us who are more absent than present at church humming the familiar tunes even if we didn't quite know the words.

It was a typical family gathering, I suppose. Potluck lunch, heavy on the potato salad, jello molds, and brownies. One cousin with his laptop and a family tree program going around the tables, gathering information. Adults clustering into their own generations and catching up with each other's lives, watching the children as they played, enjoying the beautiful day. Fiona, being the youngest there, was passed around from one set of arms to the other and endured it all with giggling grace. We all posed for a group picture at the end. I'm not sure quite how many generations there were, nor am I entirely sure of the link between all of us, even though there was a point when we tried to figure out who was what type of cousin to whom.

That evening, my sisters and all the female cousins (or cousins' wives) in our age group gathered together for what has now become a tradition - a trip to the local ice cream shop, where we loaded up on calories and silliness, and then to the pier to find a dark corner to sit and talk. The one exception to the group was Bil-1, who was allowed to join us by virtue of the fact that the last time we were there, he was made an honorary Hickson woman (don't ask). We sat on that pier til it was very late, laughing, talking, noisy and having fun. This occasional trip to Ohio has been the only time my sisters and I have ever had to get to know our cousins besides the yearly Christmas card from their mom and so we all have been looking forward to that time on the pier.

We ended the evening with a walk through the sleepy little town, hugging our goodbyes and promising to try to schedule our time at Lakeside better next time. It had been four years since we last saw each other, and with the wedding next summer, it may be a few years til I see them again. I know that as the years pass and we all get older, I see more and more of our mothers in them. I wonder if they see the same in my sisters and me.