So I thought I'd do a quick post about the weekend so far. It has been really great. Ben and I got to Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, and we've been spending just about every minute just chatting and hanging out with my dad's family.
In anticipation of meeting the Clusiaus, I was a little nervous about what to expect. My dad didn't get along really well with anybody in his family and I have never really known any of them, and then here we were getting ready to spend an entire weekend with them all. My mom kept saying that there was nothing to worry about because they're family, and even if you don't know them, there is just something there that makes it comfortable and familiar... well, she was right.
It has been completely fascinating. First, I see my dad in both of his brothers. They all have the same sense of humor and they laugh just the same way. They have the same mannerisms and the same ways of protecting us kids. My Uncle Tom's smile is practically identical to my dad's (this is both good and spooky at the same time... seeing my dead dad's smile all weekend has been kinda crazy).
The best part about it is that we are all coming together. It seems to me that there is a real trend in the Clusiau history of hurt feelings and grudges and estrangement. A big part of the reason I wanted to come here was to get to know my family, and specifically to learn about all the positive stuff that comes with being a Clusiau. There is something so awesome about sitting down with both of my dad's brothers, their significant others, my cousins and their families and laughing and learning about each other... we've been able to talk about the really crappy stuff that's happened and we've been able to share the hilarious stories, and we've even looked through pictures of the family from the early 1900s and on.
It's been fun to learn that I really look like a Clusiau. It's also fun being in a town where my last name is actually really well known. Ben and I spent some time with my cousin Kellie and her husband, Pete, last night and cracked up forever about how Kellie and I carry on some very "Clusiau" traits. Ben and Pete laughed at how Kellie and I organize things similarly, have the tendency to be late, like to have all the laundry folded, and are obsessive about cleaning the house before going on vacation. They laughed about the fact that if we get the idea to finish something before we do anything else, there is really no stopping us. We laughed about how my dad and Uncle Tom keep (kept) files and notes on everything (and everyone). It's so much fun to realize that despite disagreements and estrangements between our fathers from time to time, they parented us in very similar ways.
I'm excited to spend this afternoon with everyone again and continue the conversations. It has been a really fulfilling couple of days being here, and for the first time in a long time I am feeling a connection with the Clusiau name and family. I think we're at a turning point... I hope one where we'll spend time together regularly, keep up with each others' lives, and continue a trend of friendship and love and family-ness.