Maybe it's my age, and the time and distance between the conversations and experience is just so much larger than it used to be, that it's like recovering from amnesia. I found myself remembering certain "scenes" from life; Life that existed well over 20 years ago.
My great aunt died. I have not seen her since probably 2000. Before that, it was probably the mid-90s. She was my maternal grandfather's sister, and she was a pistol. Full of life, conversation, personality... you name it. I like her, I always did. She had one daughter, that she actually adopted from another cousin of mine. I assume the cousin must have been young when she had her. So my Aunt Bill (Yes, Bill - her name was Willie Mae, so they called her Bill for short,) and my cousin Cathy grew up across the street from my grandfather, grandmother and great grandmother (Which I refer to as Grandma Betty, Papa, and Granny.)
I would visit my grandparents just about every Sunday after church. Cathy would come across the street and eat with us and she and I would play together. She was about 3 years older than I, so of course I was delighted to hang out with the "cooler" kid. There were a slew of other cousins - all of them were 2nd and 3rd and even 4th cousins for me, since my mother is an only child. The one thing that bound the entire family together was my great-grandmother - Granny. She was a true matriarch. She had birthed 12 children, six of which lived (there were two sets of twins,) and each child had a few kids (except for my grandmother.) Every Christmas, the entire family would get together. It was quite a large group.
Here is a pic of most of the great grandchildren and grandchildren through the years.
Here is a photo of my cousin Amy on the left and my cousin Cathy on the right.
You can see my cousin Cathy over my shoulder. (She is the one I mentioned in the story.)
Here are most of the great grandchildren - Stacie, Greg, Cathy, Heather, Holly, Amy, Kristi and me. My great grandmother was in the middle.
My sister with my Granny
A picture of my cousin Cathy and I eating sandwiches at my Granny's house
Me, my Papa and my sister. Clearly I was jealous
My dad, me, Cathy and our Granny
Another birthday - Cathy and me
Me, my Papa, my Grandma Betty and my Granny
Finally - the most telling of all (all of the adults are deceased) - My papa, my grandma Betty, Great Aunt Bill (who just died,) and Granny. You see me and Cathy in the photo.
I suppose my point to all of this is, it was weird. I began remembering things I had completely forgotten about. What was also strange, I did not really know anyone's personalities. I had to ask what they all did for a living, and where they lived. It's odd to have been so much a part of each others lives for so long, then be almost like strangers. The faces are familiar... but their stories... are not.
I hate that it takes something like funerals to bring families together. Of course everyone said, "We have to get together some time.." and of course everyone agreed they would. But I think we all know that time will pass and we will probably see each other again at the next funeral.