When I saw the picture, I laughed out loud. A friend of mine who normally seems a bit on the quiet and reserved side is pictured in a fountain pool, dressed in denim style shorts and a bright yellow cotton sleeveless shirt, she is on her feet with water splashing around her calves, knees slightly bent as she leans forward with outstretched arm toward the photographer and her face contorted to appear like a roaring lioness. Her sister, clearly enjoying the moment and animated with laughter, is sitting on a rock positioned in the water beside my friend. Gazing at the picture, a wave of pleasant nostalgia washed over me, holding memories of reunions with my own sisters.
There is something about being with the people you grew up with. As we grow up and enter into many different communities – of work, of church, of organizations, etc. – we usually develop a modified persona that is active in those environments. One example of this in my own life is in the area of the use of humour. My family’s love language seems to be a little bit of sarcasm. We sharpen our wit(s) – some of us have one, others more than one – with one another and laugh at ourselves, and each other, in the process. I’ve had to modify that behaviour pattern in me in various environments and groups, as without the safety of shared experiences and the assuredness of no ill intentions, it can be quite damaging to others to be the recipient of a witty or sarcastic comeback or comment.
But when we get together as family, the relief of being able to express ourselves in this way we grew up in is palpable. You know what it is like to tell a joke, only to have to explain it? Most of the humour is lost in that scenario. Well, for me, being amongst family is as if I get dropped into an environment where all of a sudden everyone understands the same language – no explanations necessary!
I remember Christmas get-togethers and other reunion times when Mom, who just like my friend would seem to be a bit on the quiet and reserved side, would pipe up with some outrageous thing, and our laughter was in part because whatever it was seemed contrary to how she appeared. I remember being in the Bahamas with Mom, and my own eyes widening with shock as she was the first one up for parasailing. Who was this person!?
Next month, my sisters and I will be gathering together to honour my brother, Dale, who passed away, and to spend some time together. I had hoped to have a get together with my brother alive. But although the event bringing this reunion into being is sombre, I look forward to our time where we will likely be somewhat irreverent, sarcastic and gently acerbic together. A good family time.