I got a call from my mom last night that said, “Hey hun, call me back.” Usually, this means someone in our family has passed away. I called her back, and she informed me that my Great Aunt Louise had died. Now, for some people, your Great Aunt is someone you see rarely, if at all, maybe at family reunions, maybe at funerals, and weddings. But in my giant Italian family, your Great Aunt is your Aunt, who happens to be older than your Aunts. Now, I have tried to explain this concept to Jeff many a time, and it’s hard for him to understand, which makes sense, because not everyone has a grandma who was one of 12.
And yes, Nikki, it’s 12. For those of you who read my blog and are in my family, I think you should take this time to refer to the Geni tree I made, which you can join and update. It’ll help us all remember who’s who and who’s where.
I made the family tree so I could know just that: how many greats are there in my family? How many cousins do I have (the answer is 90, and counting.) There are a lot of us. Geni says I have 199 relatives. And, let’s be honest, there are probably more, some babies forgotten, or not yet added.
Nikki’s post was spot on about my family. Family picnics each year, celebrations of even the smallest holiday, crowding into a hall for a holiday party. There were: popcorn balls, hot dogs, pools, fireworks, macaroni, swings to swing in, babies, aunts, uncles, cousins by the score, cousins girlfriends, boyfriends, fiances, spouses, and another round of family. Orange drink, balloon tosses, swimming in the pond, volleyball, the planting of trees, easter egg hunts in backyards, always being able to find a friend, always being able to form a team for any sport, softball in the field, presents from Santa, breakfasts at diners, dishes to clean, arguments to have, macaroni, salad, olives, seafood on Christmas, macaroni, more arguments, coca colas, pictures to look at, and some more macaroni. Graduations, weddings, funerals, birthday. Having the family over for coffee and cake. Uniting as an army of Iannuccis for each other, sending food, flowers, hugs, and love.
We may have lost some family over the years, but we’re gaining family, too. We have new babies, some even on the way, that will keep our family strong, who will drink orange drink at the Family Picnic, who will always find a friend, a teammate, and a plate of macaroni. This crazy family has made each and everyone of us stronger, and for that I will always be thankful that I can call each of my cousins, whether they be first or twice removed, my cousin, my friend, my family. My immediate family will always include all 90 cousins, and all the various aunts, uncles, and grandparents to go with them.
And so, although I cannot be with my family, I am thinking of them right now, in this hard time, and knowing the Aunt Louise is in a better place. And she’s with the rest of our family, and I’ll bet they are screaming, and yelling, and laughing, and remembering old times, and I’ll bet that they are eating some macaroni. As it should be. And so, Aunt Louise, say hi to Aunt Pat for me, and Grandpa, and you know, the rest of them up there. I miss you all, and I’ll be seeing ya, eventually. In the meantime, save me a plate.
A photo of some of my immediate family, at the camp site, at the Family Picnic, in 2009.