Over breakfast on the morning of the funeral my stepmother threw out the question,
"What is your earliest memory of your aunt?"
|Photo Credit: Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski|
During the funeral service the priest shared his recollections of his first meeting with my great aunt, and how she ensured he was whipped into shape for his role as her parish priest. She played a huge role in the parish, despite being less than healthy for as long as I can remember.
After the service, in a local hotel, there was a board full of photos. Photos taken of her happy life. A life I realised I knew very little about. Smiling faces, people wrapped in loving arms in various locations, undertaking various activities. Happy days, happy years filled with family, fun and adventures.
In a few short hours I learned more about my great aunt than I'd heard in the forty years before. Funerals do that to people - bring back memories of happier times gone by, memories of the essence of a person. I also got to hear the story of how my grandparents met. A wonderful, simple meeting that was to lead to a marriage that has lasted 63 years and which is still going strong.
Our memories, the memories of our parents and our grandparents, are tied together. Bound together they make up a picture for our children of the family they belong to. And I feel that having children born in a country different to the one I was born in, living away from their extended family, makes these stories all the more important. These stories connect our cultures. They connect family history to our family now.
These stories connect us, even when we live our life away from the rest of our family, even when we are expats.