A few weeks ago the Thirdson family visited the ?old country? to attend a family wedding and spend time on vacation. For the past 7 years and since I faded away, I have had a strained relationship with some of my family. When I married 4 years ago none of my family attended.
The nephew whose wedding we attended was raised as a JW until his teen years but has never been baptized. My brother and his wife quit attending meetings before I did. For various reasons, and both sides share some blame, my parents have no contact with my brother and his family.
I was told of the wedding arrangements a good while ago and made arrangements to attend long in advance. I didn?t mention anything to my parents until they received an invitation to the wedding. They declined to attend and instead wrote a hurtful and damning letter to their grandson. As a result it is unlikely they will ever have a normal relationship with him, meet his wife or see their great-grandson. Several of us tried to persuade our parents to attend, at least for the sake of their grandson even if they couldn?t bring themselves to reconcile with brother two. I told my dad that the whole family would be attending and it would be a great shame if he and mom were not to go. His reply was that not all the family was going. However, he was wrong. Since my family was flying in from the USA to attend, it persuaded another sibling to attend. In the end, all of us siblings (6 including the father of the groom) were together and I wasn?t the only one to travel from an overseas location. I?m not sure when we last were all together, maybe 19 years ago. I hadn?t seen some of my family in nearly 10 years and most hadn?t even met Mrs. Thirdson.
So on the Saturday morning of the wedding I was a little nervous about meeting some family. We arrived in the town via a shuttle bus provided. I was quickly greeted with a warm hug from one of my sister-in-laws. She is the strong JW member and the one whose reaction to seeing me I was not certain about. I introduced my wife, and teenage son who my sister-in-law had not seen since 1995. Soon after I met Firstson. We had only just recently made e-mail contact after two years of silence on his part. I gave him a hug, and I think surprised him. Other family members I had already met prior to wedding day. The only other old time acquaintances of a JW kind were the parents of my sister-in-law, the grandparents of the groom. The grandmother knew me, she said, because my son is the spitting image of me when I was 16. I think that was probably the age I was the last time I saw them.
At least it wasn?t a Witness wedding. The wedding was performed pretty quickly and not long after we traveled to the reception for the day long event. I was more comfortable talking to some than others. With the JW siblings I kept it neutral. I asked after the other nephews and niece who were not attending. I know none are JWs but I didn?t mention it. I know my oldest brother is no longer an elder and his kids are one of the reasons he quit. I noted that neither he nor my SIL raised their glasses during the toasts?old JW superstitions die hard. The rest of us were just ?worldly.?
I haven?t lived in the UK for a while. It surprised me how many people smoke although none of my closest family do. I was surprised at how much people drank too, including all my family. My other JW brother wore a goatee beard. Maybe in some parts of Europe JW men sporting goatees is acceptable although I suspect an element of the rebelliousness in him.
Later in the week over dinner with my brother and sil (the parents of the groom), I learned that the slightly tearful wife of my oldest brother confessed that he has stopped attending meetings. I don?t know the reason why, whether it is a personal religious crisis or the pressure of running a business. In time, I hope to find out. Since we have only recently begun communicating again, I will keep in contact and let him explain, if and when he wants to.
We didn?t stay at my parent?s place and in so doing allowed others to avail themselves of accommodation in the area of the wedding. Mrs Thirdson and I were guests on a sheep farm and enjoyed some quiet time together. My parents were quite welcoming and hospitable nonetheless. We did spend some time together, ate at their home and went out to dinner one night. Mom even asked me to download the wedding pictures from my camera to her PC.
During our vacation, we did some site-seeing, took a trip down to the West Country and visited one member of this board, had dinner with an old childhood JW (now ex) friend and her husband and had dinner with one of my oldest friends (never a JW).
Our vacation was over too soon. We had a good time. I reconnected with some of my family and hope we can keep it up. I invited lots of people to visit and for some to even spend Christmas with us. I don?t think Mrs Thirdson and I will be traveling much in the next couple years so I hope some will visit -- though I doubt we will be struggling to find beds for everyone. I am at that point in life when family get-togethers only happen on special occasions. Weddings are OK but funerals are not. My concern is that my parents will not be at the weddings while the rift exists. It will be a terrible shame if the last time we are all together will be a funeral.