Several years ago, I attended a family reunion. Although held in Texas, where my father’s side of the family has called home for six generations, relatives from other states and even foreign countries attended. During the two-day event, I spent most of my time with those I had known since childhood—my two brothers (of course), my first cousins, their parents, and my grandparents.
However, I also socialized with second and third cousins, distant granduncles and grandaunts, and many other relatives reportedly once or twice removed from family members I scarcely knew existed.
At the reunion, I watched videos of great-grandparents who had died before I was born, but who obviously played a pivotal role in my family’s life. I heard heartwarming tales about my ancestors who immigrated to the United States in pursuit of their dreams. I listened to tragic stories about family members who had divorced, died prematurely, or otherwise experienced some calamity that left emotional scars on those closest to me. I held in my hands silver cutlery, porcelain dishes, and other articles my forefathers used. I glanced at photographs of people who looked eerily like me other than differences in hairstyle and wardrobe.