The family gathers for a meal

One of the main reasons,  my daughter Annette and I traveled to Guam was to also join family members in commemorating the first anniversary of the passing away of my brother David’s wife, Reina,  a year ago. Guam is a deeply Roman Catholic island steep in religious traditions.

Besides the religious observance, it is an opportunity for family members to gather, bond and celebrate our “familyship.”  We had a buffet of island dishes that helped all this bonding occur in true island form.

Family members included extended relationships to third or fourth cousins.  I saw great and great -great uncles and aunts.  It was not only a feast of food but also a feast of family love. For those of us visiting off island, it was feeling like we were returning back from a long sleep to a place where home truly exists.

My daughter, Annette, is especially enjoying this time as relatives embrace her. They have not seen her since she was a little girl.  I literally saw living generations in front of me, the past, the present and the future.

My Daughter, Annette Leddy with her Nana ( my mother), Joyce I. Martratt

My mother has been so overjoyed to have all her children here and to have most of her grandchildren and great grandchildren around her.  I know that we, who are her descendants ,  feel terribly fortunate to have her as our matriarch.  My father passed away many years ago so it has been mainly mom that has held her brood together.

She reminded me that she was still mom, when during the Mass for my sister-in-law, she nudged my shoulder and signal me to quiet down.  Some of my cousins who were seated in the row behind me were so excited to see me back on island , they kept talking to me during the service.  I had to laugh because I totally responded to her like I did when I was a boy. I quieted down.  My daughter got a kick out of that one.

Annette Leddy ( my daughter -center) with Christian Leddy (L) and Phillip and his son Payton ( r) Christian and Phillip are my brother Phillip's sons.

She has been having a grand old time sharing stories about my brothers and sister when we were younger with my daughter.  You know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. To see my mother laughing and joking with my daughter in such an abandoned way was one of those moments I wanted to keep reliving.

This trip has been full of lessons for me and one of them has been- that what brings me the most joy in my life are substantial relationships like the ones I have with my family.  I know that whoever I share my life with ultimately would need to be one which I could live substantively and authentically so that life is truly full and lived with real meaning.  This is what bonding with the generations of my family has opened my heart to see.

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