Pride \'prid\ 1: the quality or state of being proud; as a: inordinate self-esteem :CONCEIT b: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect c: delight or elation arising from some act 2 : proud or disdainful behaviour or treatment :DISDAIN 3 a: ostentatious display b: highest pitch: PRIME 4:„ a source of pride: the best in a group or class 5: a company of lions
Dad's brothers, their wives and families, my Uncles and Aunts and cousins, surrounded us and us them, on holidays, summer camping trips, most weekends. All the brothers liked their beer, so I've vivid memories of Aunts angry, arms crossed over their hearts, watching the brothers.
Falling down mean or sloppy happy, angry and arguing or playing their violins and accordions, there wasn't much in between.
Dad "rode the rails" from Saskatchewan to B.C. when he was 17. Dad's Mom died young, maybe in childbirth, and Gramps raised his 8 youngsters "as best he could." Never remarried. It was the depression.
My brother and I grew up hearing countless stories of the dust bowl, the hardship, the walking to school with no shoes in the dead of winter. We understood that then school, and by necessity childhood, ended very early. My brother and I, we were lucky. Gramps, to feed the family, used to hunt coyotes, for the bounty produced by bringing in their tails. We couldn't know.
After Dad found work in the mine, one by one the brothers and sisters, and finally Gramps, came out. Dad worked, sent back money, and they came. The sisters eventually married and moved away, but the brothers stayed. Good steady union work, mountain forests, endless water, why leave?
Mom had one distant cousin, her best friend, that we'd visit on occasion, but Dad didn't approve of her husband, he was "too big for his britches, had highfalutin ideas," so Mom did most of her visiting when Dad was at work. I'd come if school was out. It was different.
Somehow related to Mom's cousin was the fallen woman of our town. The fallen woman lived with her mother and her "bastard" son. As a teenager there was some celebrity being distantly related to the town's bastard. The bastard himself carried off his status with aplomb and a fair bit of dignity. High school graduation, he wore one of those T-shirts that look like a tuxedo and swimming flippers. Feet high and then smacking down, feet high and then smacking down, he made his way down the aisle to get his diploma. Fate (perhaps) had paired us that day for that walk. Funny, no one ever talked about it afterwards. Not to me anyways.
Gramps lived with us, way back when, for a time. Pretty sure he never lived with any of the other brothers or sisters. I was very young and mostly remember the stories, not the man. Gramps, chewing snuff, watching me, sizing me up. Mom despairing as he'd spit his "snoos" down the basement steps. He'd drink coffee directly from the pot, directly from the burner on the stove. "Smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish," he lived to be 90 or so. Finally, falling down a flight of stairs, drunk, he broke his ribs, got pneumonia and succumbed to the little germs he professed not to believe in.
Dad was the youngest child in his family. Mom shared with me Gramps secret to her that Dad was the only one of his kids that "was foul."
Mom also delighted in a tale of Gramps napping on the front room couch. Once, asleep a long time, she worried. He was old. Standing over him, shaking his shoulder, calling his name, a little louder, shaking a bit harder, fear starting to set in, finally she felt his hand sliding from her ankle up to her thigh. Gramps was very much alive!
Dad's oldest brother lived in a ramshackle cabin, by a lake, a few miles out of town. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no woman's touch, the smells and the grime and the total take over of things, for every surface of his place possessed a broken down belonging, was fascinating. The recognized "black sheep" of Dad's family, it was hard to imagine that interrupted soul, on his Indian motorcycle, heart pumping, full of life, jumping the dock to the ferry on it's way out, all in the name of lost love... but that's the story.
Stopped going to the "family reunions" after I move away from town. On occasion I'd get a call to come back, but I always had a good excuse. The calls don't come much anymore. Miss the violins and accordions, the wild stories, my family. I'm told the reunions aren't much different from when I was kid, only it's the cousins now and their wives with arms crossed over their hearts.