For the last ten or so years, my family (my kids, my wife, my mom, my dad, my sister and aunts, uncles and cousins) have been going to this little island on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina; Sunset Beach. A few years ago there was a rip within the family. It was no small rip, but it could have been mended. Instead it grew, till the fabric was severed.
We continued to go, but the distance grew. First my dad stopped coming. Then my sister. The rip was palpable; it became a weight. Now there is an inevitable sunset on the blurring horizon. The tradition will be coming to an end.
Last visit, mom could do nothing but make lists and forget the lists and ask the same question over and over again. We had to babysit her constantly (to eat her food, to take her medicines). When she did go down to the beach, she stayed an hour or two at the most, and then went back to the house to repeat her pattern. She never interacted with the kids. Never talked to them. Though she said she enjoyed herself, I fail to see how. It was a job for us, not a vacation. This year my mom will (most likely) not be able to come, as her health and mind and who she was or is continues to deteriorate rapidly (as is evidence by her being moved to assisted living in her retirement community she recently, willingly moved to). Now, like avoiding the inevitable news you'll get from the doctor after years of avoidance, I shirk from the choice I face. The many choices I face. The many consequences it will bring.
I can curse the rip. The fact that no one tried to mend it. Each pulling and ripping it larger. But alas, this is life. Full or rips and tears, worn through to threaded shards. This is what we often do to one another. It's hard not to feel defeated. Depressed. Angry. Frustrated. I want to blame everyone. Someone. Something. God. Life. Myself. But it is done. From one fabric now many. It's time to sew ourselves into a new quilt of tradition.