I got a message that our Antonievic Facebook page was receiving new visits. Seeing as nothing was put on it since we won the reunion 10k package, yes folks, people really do win prizes like this, I wondered who would go on there?
I looked in there and felt very sad. We had done a little video of our memories of our Croatian Side and there’s Mum with a hilarious recount. She looked fantastic and to think it was just four years ago! I was very new to Facebook and had no idea how all this worked. Then I felt sad that we didn’t post anything about the actual reunion so excited and busy we were with it all. We didn’t post anything about our subsequent trip to Croatia either. We simply forgot about it. I would have thought it didn’t matter, but last night we had a girls night with three sisters and two cousins and Charlotte said she had told Tim to take a look. She said when people Google the surname, that comes up. So maybe I will post occasions that are meaningful to our group. I’m going to think about it.
It also made me sad that Charlotte and Sarah, their families and our other wonderful cousins weren’t there for that. It sucks how family relations go crazy sometimes and then it reverberates down a family line. I experienced this first hand as Dad and his brother fell out over something and while I got on well with my Uncle and Aunty, the two men had a roller coaster of a relationship. We were neighbours so saw each other fairly regularly. When Gilbert and I planned our wedding I was so excited. We talked about who we would invite and Dad said NO! He was not to be invited. I argued. This was my wedding. I didn’t have a problem with him. I tossed my dark curls, flashed my brown eyes and turned my nose in the air …”and I will invite him if I want”, I threatened. “You can, Dad answered calmly. But if you do, I won’t be coming”. Well, I didn’t invite my Uncle, and to my embarrassment, he asked me why I had excluded him when I next saw him. I mumbled something about numbers and avoided him after that. I was really angry that Dad’s pig headed ness had made me feel foolish.
So when, as adults, my sister had a melt down and behaved badly I let it go. I forgave her spoiled temper tantrums we had endured for many years. That’s what happens when a little girl is born after a big gap into a large family. She is spoilt. When she made senseless and offensive comments about me I reminded myself that she can think and feel as she chooses…and when our children got married and they said , Do Not invite her! I remembered what happened all those years ago and said NO! We do not behave like that. She will always be invited and it’s her choice.
Did she come? Yes. Did she enjoy? Maybe. Did she say nasty things after? Well yes… That’s the nature of the beast. Why do I explore this now? Because last night our two cousins tell us of their Dads and Uncles falling out and the result of that being that we never met them until after Mum and Dads passing. That is the sad bit. Their argument wasn’t with our Mum and Dad but another and so they were excluded.
We laughed and remembered last night our holidays in the sun on ninety mile beach. Ronny and Timmy telling us to come with them and deliberately taking us through the turkeys who ran and gobbled their heads off around us as we screamed, much to our terror, ours and the turkeys, and our cousins delight.
Flashed through my mind was the old bus that had bunks built in and it slept eight to ten comfortably and twelve plus passionately I remember Dad saying. Where a little cooker was put on a stand and Mum threw together meals for the masses. Where Dads job was to start a fire and push twigs down the middle of the thermette so there was hot water for Mums cup of tea and the dishes. Where we fell into a heap around an open fire at the end of the day still damp from the beach and sand in our hair and clothes but we never had a care being so tired from running around all day with our cousins.
Where Dad and Uncle Dennis played the piano accordions and drank rum and sang the old songs that drifted up to the stars as we nodded off. Where Dad would lift us into a bunk bed at some point into sleeping bags made out of an old kapok quilt and recovered in an old curtain. The bus had no insulation and was freezing in the night and hot once the sun came up and beat down on its dark green sides. Did we care. Hell no!
Sarah and Charlotte you guys should have been there! Running around in your hand me down tees and funny shorts like us. We should have been laughing about shared memories. Comparing noses and wondering if you got your Nanas or my Nanas nose. Ahhh but it wasn’t meant to be and so while we didn’t share childhoods we can now share many good times to come. Looking forwards always. Thankful that we did make a connection early enough to enjoy mulled wine and hand me down recipes and know that we got enough of our forebears to make our connections strong and meaningful and to love each other, like family should.