Sunday, July 26, 2009

Visit with Family

When R and I moved out west, we knew that we were leaving most of our families behind us. In fact, that was kind of the idea. We wanted to strike out on our own, and getting away from the stifling atmosphere of the Kellmans was a big part of that for me. Not that I don't love my cousins and of course my parents, but I needed to find out what my life would look like if I shaped it, rather than letting it be molded into the shape others before me had occupied. I suppose that's why people have been coming to California and other points west for as long as these places have been part of the U.S. , and perhaps longer.
On the other hand, I have always felt differently about my mother's side of the family. The Horvitches/Lee Wardens/Lynns are a different lot from the Kellmans. This South African/British/Canadian branch of the family are, I like to think, more like me in their embrace of culture, the arts, and the beautiful rather than the merely practical. My mom had 4 siblings. Her sister Edna lived in South Africa on the same beautiful stretch of beach where they had all grown up in Cape Town. Her daughter, Mignon, now lives in Australia, where she is a singer/songwriter, who plays women's festivals all over the world. Once in a very great while, she visits the U.S. .
Yesterday my parents, R., and I had lunch with her and my cousin Andy Horvitch, who works in the film industry and lives in L.A. . I haven't seen him in a very very long time, probably before Jeremy was born, despite his proximity. His father, Ike, was an architect and sculptor who was jailed with Mandela in the 50s for his work with the ANC and could not return to S.Africa until Mandela took power.
When I see Mignon, although this is very infrequent, we feel like sisters because there is something essentially similar about us, I think. Yesterday was no different. But Andy and Mignon came mostly to see mom, who is their last living link to their parents.
Before their arrival, my mom didn't remember at all who either of them were, couldn't even remember her sister, Edna. But when she saw them, she immediately knew who they were somehow, saw their parents in them. She didn't think they were their parents though, as people with dementia often do. Somehow she remembered at the sight of my cousins who they were. There were tears and embraces.
My dad, on the other hand, though he had met Mignon several times before and knew all of my mom's siblings well, was silent and rather sad. He couldn't remember them, and had to be told continually who they were. Dad's 93rd birthday is approaching (next Friday), and it is sad to see him declining in this way.
But he did justice to the bowl of fajita salad at El Torito Grill, and ate any number of warm tortillas with salsa! At least he kept up on that front! I have to confess that I helped him out.
I'm hoping that Mignon will grace this site with the pictures she took. I promise to figure out how to post them if she does.


Lou said...

What a great story! I love the idea of family and wish I had people to reunite with like this. Two months before my mom died, she asked my sister to come and see her, but my dad had no idea who his daughter was during the entire brief visit. It is a sad progression of age.

Robbi said...

I feel very lucky to have them. And there are more cousins, all over the world, who I have never met. I'd love to go to Israel, Canada, France, etc. and be with them all.