Growing up my perception of the family union was via Black American sitcoms, hip hop and soul songs or dramas and it was committed with utter perfection. Leaves of a family tree gravitating to a matriarch's kitchen table laden with food that would sustain ten armies. Generational branches momentarily re-twigging so aunts and uncles become brothers and sisters again, distant cousins break through the initial i-don't-know-you-but-i-know-we're-related ice to collectively roll their eyes at disco parents, and the elders get to reign supreme with a view of all that they have created and nurtured.
My childhood experience amidst my Caribbean family certainly echoed with strains of what I was seeing on TV; add a little curry goat and lovers rock and you're there. I cherish memories of a beloved St Lucian aunt who would play the same reggae song about ten times in the course of a visit and would sing with glorious energy every single time and pull my awkward self to dance with her softness. Or another Grenadian aunt-cum-grandmother who would cook the Sunday dinners of all Sunday dinners then hold our mouth-watering attention whilst she prayed with us over the good part of an hour; but the food and the love of her was always worth the wait.
Two women who I wish my daughters could have known, two women who, through the prism of my young eyes, encapsulated warmth, love, joy, family.
Life's demands can often fracture the ties that bind so I am now grateful that part of my clan have reclaimed and reconstructed our family union for nearly 8 years. Where I once stood as the child, cuddled and chided by grown ups, I now see the children of then having children of their own, the parents change their status to grandparents, the teenagers blossom into adulthood.
Our annual reunions which began as a necessary replanting of relationships, after a passing, have flourished into a happening that raises up the achievements and rites of passage amongst us, sustains the growth and collective need of an evolving family and cradles the sorrows within us. Our boughs reach from the newborn to the newcomers to the never-to-return; all life is within our roots.
And settling here on my branch, I will take time to cherish the view from here.