This weekend was good, as it is always good to go to Old Home and see The Ravishing Mrs. TB, Na Clann, the larger family, and friends. But in a real way, it was Last Call as well.
First was on Saturday, at the Family Reunion. Now, there have been family reunions in the Toirdhealhbheach Beucail family since before I was I, probably dating back 50 years or more to the post Gold Mining Generation. For years there were two celebrations, one in Summer in the High Sierras, one in Winter at the Ranch before it become our Ranch. It was hosted by two of the five sisters of my grandmother.
As the years have gone on and they became older and slowly they stopped happening - the Christmas one first when Uncle Brian passed away in 1978, then the summer one as the sisters got older and the family drifted out. My mother took up the torch, saying that she would continue to have them as long as the sisters were still alive. Every year for at least the last 10 she has faithfully prepared the house in June or July, sending out invites to all those on her list.
This year was the least turnout ever - literally, with the exception of Auntie Emma (one of the two surviving sisters) and one set of cousins, the crowd was exactly the same as we have at Christmas e.g. my mother's immediate family. One or two called to say they could not come, but the vast majority did not.
And that's when my mother said "This is the last one."
Not the last reunion, just the last time of doing it family. We'll invite my in-laws next year, and my sister's in-laws, and Uisdean Ruadh, and others we know in our lives. A reunion - but in a real sense the functional family we have, not the family defined by blood.
The second Last Call came Sunday morning as I was working to get the last of the wheat in in my garden. It was a fine crop - better than I could have hoped - and I wanted to at least get in before something more happened.
And then it hit me as I was snipping with the cutters in my right hand and grabbing the head and dumping it into the bucket with my left: this is the last time I will be doing this in this garden. I stopped for a moment and looked around at the uneven growth, the patch of earth I have poured the last 4 years of my life into winter and summer, spring and fall, sighed, and kept reaping.
It was a reminder - in fact, both were reminders of the fact that life is actually incredible mutable, changing in ways we cannot imagine just a short time before. The Old Ties are broken, true - but replaced with ones that are equally as delightful and in many ways, more meaningful.