My ten year-old son had always lamented why he seldom sees members of my side of the family as compared to that of his father's side who make it a point to hold a yearly reunion. A typical Gaudinez Family "reunion" would most probably be a dinner hosted by any of the visiting family member based abroad. Admittedly, these occassions are quite few and far between.
Upon receiving an invitation to such an occassion from my cousin Jun and his wife Beng in their most recent return to the Philippines, my son was quite excited and asked me to make sure that I introduce him and his younger sister to each and everyone so that they would remember. It was such a huge disappointment to him that he got sick the night before and therefore could not come. I decided not to come lest I further his disappointment in leaving him behind. My husband prevailed on me to go since events such as this do not happen often. After making sure that my son was okay, I went to the designated place with my youngest daughter in tow.
I am very glad that I did come as it was a wonderful time to renew family ties with the ever-gracious couple Jun and Beng, with my Uncle Bebet and his wife Juliet and children Cheska and Alexis, with my cousin Willie and his wife Chato and their children, with my cousin Cong and her husband James and their children, and of course with Tita Charing. It was also a time to meet Melchor, Jun's brother, and his partner Ashley. It was a time to be happy and forget all earthly worries while in the company of true family. It was a relief to be moving within a group that have accepted each other's idiosyncrasies, able to laugh at ourselves without feeling laughed at.
The worries of everyday life may have dulled my sensitivities to the importance of maintaining family connections for some time. My son's youthful anticipation has forced me to look in retrospect to things that we usually take for granted such as family ties. My relatives are probably unaware that I feel a sense of dread for our family get-togethers, believing that I'll always suffer in comparison in terms of accomplishment and material wealth. It was always my sense of duty and family that prevailed thus my consistent presence in family gatherings. I soon began to realize that nobody seems to be counting any way, so why should I be so hard on myself?
Today, I learned an important lesson through the eyes of a child who had no room for pretension and needless anxiety. The things we treasure most have always been with us and have always been staring back at us, waiting to be discovered or rediscovered. Some people say you'll know what is most important to you in this world when you know the answer to the question: What will you do if it was the last day of your life on earth? I was given a preview of my probable answer during a life-and-death situation involving my husband when I cried desperately to the Lord to take everything else but my family. During my most difficult times, I look back to that moment to remind me that all other problems pale in comparison to the prospect of losing a family member. In our gravest moments, we return to the basics, realizing that what we have been pursuing all our life is not that important after all.
Here's a toast to the family and everything that it represents. Here's hoping that the next Gaudinez Family reunion would include more members and allow all those based abroad to be miraculously here in the Philippines at the same time. My son will probably have the time of his life getting to know all of them.
Family members may be go their separate ways for some time due to marriage, work , and the pursuit of ambition but always there is a family to come home to. There need not be any special reason to get together , just the desire to bond and keep the lines open and the ties tighter. When we are among family, we are truly home.
That said, I resolve to be more available for this kind of occasions and play a big part in renewing family ties.