Saturday, August 27, 2016

Home is where the heart is

More or less?
I hail from a typical WASP family. While
our lineage went back to the Mayflower,
few if any were left. Meaning Mother
never set a holiday table for more than
eight. Three of whom were best friends -
"family" of no blood relation. Both of
my grandfathers were cads - one being
a bigamist with three families. The other
a Brit who ran back to home and never
returned. So growing up I never knew
what it was like to be aligned with any
large collective. Rather our family was
next to none. And less was not more.
The bigger the better
We all want what we can't have. Thus
my dream was to align with a larger
family. My first wife came from a big
Italian family. Meaning that inviting
immediate relatives involved setting
a table for at least fifty. I was quickly
swept up in their bravado, camaraderie,
and intrigue. Soon I knew who was in
fact related to who whereas she simply
knew they were relatives. Years later
I was welcomed into Frank's extended
Czech and Italian families. And trust
me... there are a lot of them!
Six degrees of separation
Being part of a large family in Lewistown
is rather a unique experience. Within our
six thousand residents, at least one out of
three seems to be related to my better half.
Whereas one can live quite anonymously
in the big city, it's impossible to go about
town and not meet some blood relation.
Slowly I've connected the dots and now
know who's a Mane versus Hruska versus
Tognetti. However given Frank's father
was one of eight children - simply getting
together with his siblings and their kids
is a BIG event in and of itself!
Home sweet home
Yesterday we celebrated the one hundredth
anniversary of John Valach & Son. Today
about sixty of John and Anna's offspring
will gather at the family homestead. With
the exception of Frank Sr, most second
generation children ended up living far
from home. However each summer they
returned with their kids to create lasting
memories of "grandma and grandpa."
Today those middle aged "kids" and their
children will happily reconnect with their
pasts. And that alone is worth celebrating
isn't it? Blest be the tie that binds!
Back to the future
Part of me can't quite understand how it feels
to be so interconnected. Most of my adult life
has been spent anyplace but home. Yet every
time I see the Empire State building or smell
the subway, something deep within me says
I'm where I belong. Each of us retains some
deep primal link from with our whence we
came. And while we may not want to or are
able to live there, we can't help but feel the
need to occasionally rub elbows with our
roots. Combine that primal urge with a dose
of laughter, love, food, and fun to host what
is popularly known as a family reunion!
Circle of love
While it's now fashionable to blame one's
parents for all of their problems - I laud
John and Anna Valach for all that their
love has wrought. Their children have
passed on family traditions, stories, and
music to subsequent generations that now
connect all to their Czech heritage. Mix
in a dose of Montanan quirks and you
suddenly have a vibrant yet widespread
family unit that's still alive and kicking!
Hence even if most see each other every
few years - together they are stronger.
Rodina navždy!