Family Is What You Always Have

| April 18, 2007 | 6 Comments

It was 4:45 on Monday afternoon when the phone call came. It wasn’t something shocking or unexpected . . . there had been forewarning. She was ready for the next chapter to open.

Still, to get that call that my cousin Grace Louise had passed on, I was caught without breath for a moment. Her words were alive in my mind. I had just been working on a chapter of the cookbook over the weekend that is based on our family cookbook, circa 1981. I had just been writing about Grace Louise, and other cousins.

Let me back up.

As a child, it was a yearly event. My family and I would pack into my grandmother’s station wagon and head north to the Cape (Cape Cod, that is). Each year, we would stay in the same blue motel across the street from the ferry landing. The Hyannis Holiday Motel. Each year, we would have breakfast at the dive across the street. And I would beg to swim in the motel pool (I love swimming . . . always have). But the point of the weekend trip wasn’t to check out the harbor or eat at the Hearth N Kettle (another yearly stop). The purpose of the trip was to attend our annual family reunion at Grace Louise’s home.

Our family reunion. It was a spectacular event. Family would fly in from the far reaches for the one day event. And my grandmother would be in her glory, surrounded by her beloved cousins. They were all close in age and had grown up together, living in the same house together from time to time. They were the epitome of close-knit. It was like they all really came alive together, sharing memories and stories of times past. And then there was the food . . . oh the wonderful food. Lobsters would be brought in, fresh off the boat, from Maine. And there would be hamburgers, hot dogs, salads . . . oh, the buffet seemed endless.

Grace Louise would make these adorable favors for everyone. One year, it was little clear jars with blue lids. A label read something to the effect of “Cape Cod air.” There were satchels and little pillows . . . I kept many of the favors for years and years (and think I might still have a few kicking around the beach house).

I was pretty young – maybe 10 or so – the last time we went. I think that was the year that I spent what seemed like hours playing volleyball with the cousins. Amid the sweat and exhausting, was the fun. It was so much fun.

It’s been ages since I last saw Grace Louise – at least 13 years (it was probably at my grandmother’s funeral, but I am not certain). In recent years, her memory began to fail, followed by her body. She was ready. It was her time.

How could I not take a moment of pause when I heard she was gone? My grandmother adored her and I adored my grandmother. You see the progression. I remember Grace Louise as a bouyant, happy, vibrant woman. That’s what she will be always be to me.

People come into our lives, and they slip away. But memories of your family built in childhood are precious and priceless because family is what you always have.

Category: The Book, Thoughts

About the Author ()

Sarah Walker Caron is a freelance writer, editor and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in countless online and print publications including iVillage, BELLA NYC Magazine, Yum for Kids magazine and more. She lives in Connecticut with her two kids, two beagles and husband.

Comments (6)

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  1. Claire says:

    Sorry to hear about your cousin. It’s so neat the memories that we get to keep and things we had forgotten that are brought out by loss. Write them down so that you won’t forget. My prayers are with your family. no matter how expected, or not, it is, losing someone you love is still difficult.

  2. Patti says:

    Sarah, what a beautifully written post about family memories from childhood. The kinds we all have, buried deep inside. Sorry to hear about your cousin Grace Louise. She sounds like a lovely person.

    As an aside, our family is quite familiar with the Hyannis Holiday Motel, right across from the harbor…The four of us love going to Hyannis. I just checked the web cam at the motel’s site, and learned it is even drearier there this morning than it is in southern Connecticut.

  3. Tonia says:

    Sarah – What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry about the passing of your cousin. Your family will be in my thoughts & prayers. I’m glad you have such wonderful memories of Grace Louise.

  4. Ronnie at Around the Table says:

    Sarah, I just stumbled across your blog and I am so happy that I did. What a beautiful post about family and memories. Traditions are the glue that binds one generation to the next.

  5. Kim says:

    Sarah – Sorry for your loss. I am glad you will think of her with happy memories. I also enjoyed the mini trip I just took to “the Cape” through your post! Thank you

  6. Cate says:

    Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin, but with the beautiful memories you have, it’s obvious she has a fond place in your heart.

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