This past weekend my whole paternal side of the family (minus a few) got together at my sister's house in Maine. My Aunt Janet was in town from Texas, and many of us hadn't seen her for years. It was great fun hanging out with my cousins, their kids, niece, nephews, my parents, aunts, uncle, sisters and brothers-in-law. It was like old times, being all together.
Years ago, we used spend much more time together, for better or worse. In fact, nearly every Sunday of my childhood we gathered for dinner at my grandmother's house. We would pass the afternoon and early evening at "Nana's house," usually after my mom succeeded or didn't succeed in dragging us to church.
This Saturday past, some of the 'elder set' of the family was feeling nostalgic. My grandmother, Rachel, was on our minds, and brought up frequently in conversation. Usually we laughed heartily when someone told a 'Ma" story. Afterwards there was sometimes silence. To quote from Jane Austen's Emma, we were often "divided between tears and smiles."
This loving, commanding, optimistic woman was our matriarch, and not to be forgotten. Even for the younger members of the family, who never met "great Nana," her spirit was present.
Rachel Charlotte ---circa 1968