Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mi familia

When it comes to meaningful events, I didn't think I could top the cross country trip this summer. The first weekend in August though, I took a quick weekend jaunt to my hometown in New York for an old fashioned Italian family reunion. It was the first time our extended family had come together like this in probably 20 years or more. Why now? Cathi D'Errico Schultz.

By looking at her, you'd never know my cousin Cathi was Italian. Tall and statuesque, our blonde darling was the youngest, and sweetest, of my clan. She carried with her a cheshire grin and a infectious laugh. How this vibrant 37 year old woman could pass away at such a young age, and why, is just beyond me. It will be one of the first questions I ask at the pearly gates.

At Cathi's funeral, 2nd and 3rd cousins I haven't seen since childhood vowed to have a reunion in Cathi's honor. And, did we. On August 2nd, over a hundred of us gathered on Cathi's parents front lawn, holding hands, crying and praying together as a family. It's times like these, you are proud to have the family you do. You are proud of your heritage. And you long for the old days of pasta, rowdiness and a few extra cocktails. ;)

On this day, I met my cousin's kids for the first time, and they met my daughter. Taryn got a look into my upbringing in a way she hadn't before. Almost all were there, the local NY crew, the Yonkers crew, the Connecticut crew and the Florida crew. The 2 remaining elders, my grandmother and my great aunt, watched us dance from the front porch.
We got the generational photos... the first generation (Nan and Aunt Madeline), the second generation (my mom and her first cousins), the 3rd generation (us, the "kids") and the 4th (the kids' kids). Cousin Johnny and the lovely Renee sang to us in the rain. The cameras were a-snapping... especially the "fall" (you know what I mean). There was lots of laughter and lots of tears... it was an unforgettable day.

We vowed to keep in touch, and since have plastered Facebook with dozens of flattering, and not so flattering, photos. This family will never be the same since we lost Cathi - both in a seriously bad way, but also in a very, very good way. Thanks, Cuz.