More a comment than a post tonight, and no added pictures as it's late and I am likely to be woken earlier rather than later by some junior members of the family. My cousin, correctly first cousin once removed, collected me from the very lovely Alison and Bruce this morning. There was a certain amount of chat as both Victoria (my cousin) and Bruce are actuaries and realised very quickly they knew people in common. I love these connections, the invisible skeins that join us.
Victoria drove across Sydney to her home and we caught up on family stuff and news. None good about her cousin Tom who is still in a bad way. I last met her husband at their wedding, and although I have seen many pictures of her children, today was the first time we met. The older daughter reminds me of my cousin, her great aunt, Mary. The younger is like her father. Both girls were wet, having enjoyed the narrow swimming pool beside the house.
Remembering how I used to do the Sperrins Hill Walking Festival when I stayed with her parents, Victoria had a walk planned for us. I'd had a look at it and it seemed to involve a bit of up and down. Are there many steps, I asked. My knees get quite distressed by steps. She didn't think so. In the heat of the day we set off. There were steps quite near the beginning, then some more a short way in, and more a bit further along. It quickly became apparent that this is a Walk With Many Steps. My knees began to mutter, then to groan, then to mutiny. Fortunately we reached a stepless part before they gave up. I was expecting to feel pain by tonight, but am relieved to say I can still climb the stairs without wincing. Naturally I have done my stretches.
Robin, Victoria's youngest brother came over with his wife of one year, Anne. Despite the fact that we have a surfeit of Annes in the family, Victoria and Robin's mother being one, my mother, whose 97th birthday it would have been today, another, Robin's Anne is a very welcome addition to the family. More friends arrived for a convivial evening of food wine and children. Victoria's husband introduced me to the pleasures of tea gin and wasted his good whisky on me.
I loved it. I felt at home, secure in the bosom of my family. My cousins read Mother's and Aunt's obituaries. Victoria recalled how both were staying when as a young teenager she went out on a date, and through the window, they spotted her beau's earring, telling her when she came home that they didn't like it.
We may live in different hemispheres, but the ties that join us are still strong. Still important and valued.