A couple of months ago, in the midst of my sisters wedding, I looked around the room and took in all the faces there. I saw many familiar faces, some of whom had been at my own wedding, many years ago, and I saw too the gaps of those no longer with us.
It’s been years since she passed, but the face I missed the most that day was my Gran. Ohh how she’d have loved it.
I spent a lot of time with my Gran when I was a child. My Mother’s mother, she looked after me a lot in the pre-sister years, weekends spent in in the big house in Rutherglen, my Uncle’s old warped snooker table in the basement, the living room with a sideboard so large it came in through the window (one floor up), and the front room best know for the tub of sweets that were always the first port of call when we visited.
I didn’t really know my Grandpa, successive strokes robbed him of speech and movement, but he was there with a smile and a laugh. I wish I’d known him better but my visits there were mostly about me and Gran, walking to the local shopping centre, getting a cone from the ice cream parlour, and always getting a toy from the toy shop. She’d stop and chat to people she knew, always a friendly smile.
My Gran loved clothes and was such a frequent visitor to the make-up counters, at one of the more upper-market shops in the Glasgow’s city centre, Frasers, that in her later years when she couldn’t manage to visit in person, they started sending out free samples to her. A wedding would’ve meant a whole new outfit!
I can imagine her at my sisters wedding though, watching and smiling, and sitting with her son and daughter. What a wonderful picture that would have been.
Of course, life isn’t like that and all families go through the same cycles of loss. As it was, many of the faces at my sisters weddings the Aunts and Uncles, the family friends, all brought warmth and happiness to the day. And these are the family moments to remember fondly. The gatherings that happen now and then, that mark the passage of time, the weddings, the christenings, and even the funerals.
It’s at these times that I look at my own extended family; my partner, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law and my niece, and my closest friends who are, and have been, like brothers to me these past 30 years, my ex-wife, and all the connections that they bring.
They say that friends are the family they choose, and maybe I just got lucky because my family was already pretty damn good to begin with. As I danced with cousins and Aunties, and chatted to Uncles and family friends, I saw the same for my sister as her friends once again whisked her onto the dance floor.
I guess I’d reword that old phrase then, friends aren’t the family you chose, it’s the people you love that are the family you have.