June 2016: Connections
Having recently returned from a two-week holiday, I’m finding it difficult to readjust to routine. It’s like I’ve lived in an alternate universe for those two weeks; and now I’m thrust back into the reality of life. In a way, the ‘fit’ feels off. Something’s been tweaked, and the system runs differently now. How do I fit back into the old routine when adjustments or fine tuning has taken place?
It’s not as if any life shattering event occurred. My holiday started with a few days in a cabin in the amazing Riding Mountain National Park (a true gem to discover). This was followed by a two-day conference focused on compassion (love unleashed). I also reconnected with two counselling instructors which was very meaningful.
Hot on the heels of that event came a family gathering. My aunt kept my arrival a secret, so there were a few shocked faces—but at least I was recognized after so many years since the last visit! For some of my extended family, it had been decades since they had last laid eyes on me.
Then came Father’s Day. Followed by a trip across the province to connect with a maternal second cousin once removed, and to learn more about my maternal grandfather’s parents and grandparents. I also got acquainted with where the family name of Barbara comes from. Apparently, I have a Great Great Grandmother Barbara. Over the years, there have been allusions to an enigmatic Aunt Barbara. Now I know she was the sister of my great grandmother (daughters of Great Great Grandma Barbara). And there is a distant family FULL of Barbara’s. And this elusive Aunt Barbara lived to 105! All this time she was alive and well in this country until 2002. Why I never met her, I will never know; but I am sad that I never had the opportunity to meet this remarkable namesake.
It was also an emotionally powerful experience to stand upon the same ground my birth mother would have stood upon as a young girl and adolescent (at her grandparents’ farm). I saw where my grandfather attended school (just up the road from his childhood home). As well, I took in the majesty of the tall poplar still standing on my great-great grandmother Barbara’s farm (one poplar had split in two and fallen, but was still there). My great-great grandfather never got to see the farm he purchased as he died en route. His body was shipped by train and is buried in the family cemetery on the farm.
After a full day of family research on my birth-mother’s side, the next day I spent a few special moments with my 98-year-old (step)grandmother who was thrilled to see me. Glad her mind was still capable of recognizing me even if conversation was disjointed and repetitive.
My father also provided more information about his grandparents from an old family book newly in his possession. So much information to take in! How will it affect how I see myself and tell my story? Will I remember all the stories told to me? Can I absorb the stories of the places I visited? Not just the family connections, but also the stories buried within the Riding Mountain National Park or the many people I met at the conference?
Connections. Some have huge impact, others are strictly “in the moment.” Some small connections have great significance and other significant connections have little impact. I do know that I feel fuller and more connected after my holiday. A subtle inner shift has occurred. Things are not the same. My framework is different. It had to be adjusted to accommodate all the new information. It changed how I see myself. I am a person who counts and matters. I’m part of a bigger story—not just family wise, but other connections as well.
I am a person with a story within a story. I am person of many stories interwoven with the innumerable stories of all the other connections. I am a connected and storied person.
What about you? What keeps you connected to the stories and the people?