For the first time in many, many years, I decided that instead of spending 4th of July weekend with someone else's family, I'd brave the trip to spend time with my side: the Francois family - my relatives on my mother's side. This was the first time since I was a teenager that I went to visit family when I was not grieving, so the entire experience felt new, but extremely familiar.
Me, my sister, and my teenage daughter divvy'd our time between Cade, Lafayette, and St. Martinville Louisiana.
Here's the quick and dirty about the entire trip.
During the 5.5 to 6 hour drive, I started to get nervous because I began to remember how cliquish our family had always been during the many summers and holidays we spent together in Louisiana (and Texas), and I was not sure if I'd be able to find a place where I belonged in the whole structure. I wondered if I even knew these peoople anymore. I mean, I had not seen or spoken to them in almost 20 years. Would I even recognize all of them?
But once we arrived. I just cannot explain to you the feeling of belonging that fell over me. It was as if I had returned home.
My mother is gone now, but I could see her eyes, her cheekbones, her mouth, her hips, her ass in every one of my Aunts. When they were all together at the same time, it was a little overwhelming because I felt like I was back in my mother's presense. I had so many memories of Momma come back to me in their presence. It felt so right.
I heard my mother's laugh when my Aunt Cynthia got tickled. I saw my mother's disapproving glare when my Aunt Stephanie heard us talking in church. I winced at my mother's sarcastic sneer when my Aunt Brenda was not impressed by something we did (or wore). I smelled (yes, smelled) my mother when I gave my favorite Aunt Sharon a long hug. While I spent time with my mother's sisters, I was in her presence. I don't mean virtually. I mean, she was there; everywhere.
But not only was she there, but the people I had grown up to love, respect, and cherish were all there too. There were cliques in the Francois family, but they were overshadowed by shared love; a lot of love, hugs, tears, kisses, and family sharing. This was truly the best holiday I've had in my entire adult life. Now, that I've found where I belong, I hope to re-create the time we had much more often.