So I went to my cousin Ben’s wedding in Atlanta. It was nice to see people, it seemed to be the ceremony they were looking for, boy, the suit I was wearing sure was hot, hotter than it was when I wore it in New Orleans in May a couple of years ago, etc.
The odd thing for me is that it was the first wedding I’ve been to that actually made me feel old. Not decrepit or anything, just…old. I think this is because this is the first wedding for someone I actually remember as an infant.
Chris and Jennifer are close enough to my age that I really don’t remember them as infants at all–my memory just doesn’t go back that far. I remember them when they were young, certainly, but I suspect that even a lot of that is matching (or even constructing) memories to pictures I’ve seen in the intervening time span.
Ben, however, was born in 1981, just a few months before we moved to Germany, and I actually remember him as an infant. In fact, I am now only a few years younger than his parents were when I got married (not, as I was reminded repeatedly, that I told them for a couple of years–this, I hypothesize, is why I will never get asked to be part of any wedding party).
I suspect another part of it is that another cousin of mine, Nan–a contemporary of Ben’s mother, Dru (my Dad’s younger sister), and a close friend of hers, who I called Aunt at least until I was in college and figured out what the real relationship was–is gravely ill with cancer. She wasn’t able to attend the wedding–and was much missed–because she was just starting another round of chemotherapy. It is to the point that I think they’re just hoping that it will allow her to hang on until her daughter’s wedding in December.
And that really makes me ache.
Now I don’t have a feel for whether I’ve lost more or fewer family members than most people my age–only a handful, really, which seems like it’s probably about par for the course–and while I have a deep affection for my extended family, we’re not absurdly close–I grew up away from the center of my parents’ families in Birmingham, and now as an adult I generally only see them at Christmas (generally at Nan’s house, in fact) or at weddings, just because of the demands on everyone’s time and energy.
But the fact is, if I search back as far as I can, my earliest discrete memories are actually–sorry Mom, Dad–of Nan and Dru.
I remember, oh so vaguely, visiting the Grand Canyon when while we were stationed out West in 1973/1974, and being very very concerned that Dru and Nan were far too close to the edge of the canyon.
I also remember, sometime the next year, while Mom and Chris (then an infant) and I were living in Birmingham–Dad having been stationed for a year in Korea, where we were not allowed to tag along–spending one (of many, I suspect, but I only remember the one) night at my Dad’s parents house, and Nan had come to spend the night as well.
So anyway, this is someone whose presence I have, as they say, taken for granted–and while this is in many ways true of the other relatives I’ve lost, they had all had more time, time to see their children and often even grandchildren grow up. They had had, in the end, a good run, while Nan’s time seems all to…short.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, I guess I owe you something amusing, so let me try this: Ben’s sister just graduated from High School, and is going to Barnard College this fall to study dance. It should not be a surprise–though I suspect it will still be amusing–to find that she is also slated to be in a show in December with the Rockettes.