I have never been exactly sure of how they all met. I know Edmonton was involved; I know there was rugby but I don't know if that was before or after the meeting; I know there were meetings in Europe, but again these may have been after the initial meeting; I know there was a ride to the hospital for one of the couple's first born which has always been told like a first meeting of the wife, but I'm not sure if it actually was. In essence, I know that they all met at some point, I know that they all lived in Edmonton at some time, and I know that they were all immigrants who bonded over rugby and beer at many points and times.
Then 'we' started coming along.
Suddenly there was less room in the cars for booze during the camping trips. Slowly (and some through other countries), they all relocated to Vancouver Island and weekends were spent shuffling the kids around the island to each other's houses for get togethers. We were the closest thing any of us had to extended family that wasn't a plane ride away, we (well, not me, I was too young) called each other's parents 'Uncle This' and 'Aunt That', and I think there are more pictures of me being held by them then there are of me being held by my parents.
Then the divorces happened.
Everything, understandably, changed after that. There were no more camping weekends with the whole gang, sides were picked in the 'who you invite to the house party', and we, the children, never really hung out again except for the odd Christmas party in which other kids were there. Our parents, to some degree, all kept in contact with each other, so it's not like we all dropped off the face of the earth to each other, but we got older and stopped going to those Christmas parties, we moved out and no longer attended the dinner parties, we developed lives of our own and just became names in stories our parents would tell when we saw them. "Did you hear about so-and-so?" "What'shername is over in Vancouver now." "Yourman has gone travelling." We were destined, it seem, to remain that way. Names we'd tell in stories to our kids. "I always remember this one time at Uncle This's house with Cousin Yourman..."
Then I got a facebook friend request.
Last time I had seen July, her youngest was still in diapers; now he was playing rugby and lacrosse, about to turn 10. I friended her sister; she had just had her first child. I was invited to July's summer BBQ. I had bussed out and was walking up the street, apprehensive that I'd spend the entire night talking to myself because I'd know no one but the hosts. I spotted July's oldest daughter heading out with a friend. I hadn't seen her in easily 10 years but I instantly recognized her. I said hello and introduced myself as 'Andrea'. "Oh," she responded. "Your my mom's cousin." The rest of the night, I was introduced as 'the daughter of...' and it seemed like everyone knew my parents and all had stories. It was a great night. We had a few more social meetings (most notably a return of the famed Christmas parties of years past), and then one night just the three of us ended up hanging out. We started talking about my brothers and what they were up to and this eventually ended up at what the other set of kids was up to as I regularly had updates on them. "We should have a big BBQ with everyone," July suggested. We hummed and hawed about the idea, bantered it about like cats with a mouse, never really making a commitment to making it happen. Then I casually (drunkenly) mentioned it to July's parents at the Christmas party and their excitement at the idea pretty much cemented that we would have to do it.
"Alea iacta est" (The die has been cast.) ~Julius Caesar
Today it finally happened. After half-ass attempts and attempts that were much more than we wanted to do (*ahem* some of you know what I'm talking about), we finally had our BBQ, or as I like to call it CCM Gen 2.0 BBQ (CCM is our last names). There were a couple of unfortunate absentees, but the majority of CCM generations 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 were there to partake in our non-family reunion. We had glorious sun, lots of delicious food, and over 20 years of stories to catch up on. In hindsight, I'm very happy that my incessant need to babble on and on while I'm drunk put us in a corner where we had to make this happen or be forever shamed by generation 1.0. To my family, my "aunts and uncles", and my "cousins", I thank you for coming. It was a wonderful afternoon. Perhaps we can do it again some time... in another 20 years.
Forty-five years of friendship, emotions, and forgiveness went into making this picture possible.