We made our annual trek to Idaho to rub elbows with my family last week. It started out early with Jude leaving with my mom for a few one to one days, then we joined a few days later to spend some time at the lake and squeeze my parents. I have a feeling that I’ll only be able to visit the property for a few more years as my parents can’t keep up with it forever and no one else wants to move out to the sticks. It’s a strange feeling, knowing something that is part of my blood will be let go, but I’m learning that life is just one long sequence of learning to love then learning to let go. In the end, we have to let it all go, anyhow, so I suppose that waving goodbye to the Idaho property will be one more opportunity to practice.
I took advantage of our time there, exploring as much as I wanted, dipping into the lake, watching the sunset, sitting quietly on the bluff, reading in the grass, all of the things. I piled my family into the golf cart at one point and gave a historical tour of important points of interest, from my perspective. I showed them where I learned to swim, where my brothers and cousins sealed me into an igloo full of fresh farts, where we tried to catch a snipe, where the old house and garbage pile used to be, where I got the scars on my shin from a water fight. It was a good trip.
Unlike other years, this one also included our every-third-year Baumert Family reunion. We convened in Salmon Idaho to catch up on hugs and see how tall our kids got. It was strange, this year, as I’m part of the grown up population now. There are younger families than mine and our elders are aging. Looking around, I realized that the crowd has changed from all of my aunts and uncles to very few elders and almost all cousins so far removed now that we could marry one another and no one would blink an eye. That made me think of what family is. Despite the thinning of our shared blood DNA, we are what defines family for me, there. I had a blast visiting, dancing, bidding on auction items, making slime and everything else. I feel lucky that we still meet up and still call one another cousin.