I was sitting on a plane bound for my new-ish home in Vancouver after a brief stint in Calgary and an even more brief, stopover in Ontario. I had intended on spending the long weekend in a large gym, crammed with volleyball players and volleyball supporters, promoting the company a few of us started up last year. Six days working a booth, talking to parents about AthleteConnect and how it can improve not-so-little (even the 15-year olds are giants compared to myself) Lexi and Tyler’s opportunities to play post-secondary sport in Canada. Not a luxurious way to spend a long weekend but an entrepreneurial necessity.
Well I put in a solid 3-days at the Olympic Oval before I had to catch the red eye to say farewell to someone very dear to me. Someone whom I will probably see for the last time. While I was home amongst this looming sadness, I really started to think about the effect that a strong matriarch can have on a family. With the early departure of the patriarch, she is the one person who is responsible for maintaining the current branches in the family’s tree. She has been around long enough to amass an extensive collection of trails, tribulations, joys and successes. She upholds the traditions of the clan and can manage the politics of a family solely by the respect her presence in the room commands. She also happens to be the person responsible for filling you with ice cream sundaes, butter tarts and the birthday cards containing a bit of spending money.
As we flooded into our hometown from all over Ontario, British Columbia, Virginia and Australia, something overwhelmingly powerful happened. For the first time in 11-years, every daughter, son, granddaughter and grandson (as well as a few additions to the family, including a great-grandson) gathered in one place, caught up and reconnected with each other. Rather than sadness filling the air, there were hugs and laughter as everyone took turns sharing their latest successes and adventures. As the photographer grouped the four extensions of the clan around the almost stoic matriarch for one final portrait of it’s kind, there was a strong sense of pride and belonging.
So what happens to the many branches of a family tree when the matriarch has to leave us? Does each limb grow in it’s own separate direction, preparing to expand it’s own reach to the next generation? Who will step up to carry on and instill the family values and traditions that we associate with being ‘home’? Perhaps, large congregations of the clan will be limited to the wedding circuit. Or maybe it will only be in times of major sorrow that our paths cross. A passing of the guard is inevitable. With it comes a wave of wonderful memories that become etched in one’s heart forever. It’s not an answer but a consolation within a process of change.