Visiting Extended Family

Hi all. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is contact with extended family and especially the coming together and leaving.

When I was a child, my extended family lived all over the country. For reference, I live in the Netherlands, so “all over the country” means anyone was still within a three-hour driving distance. However, we didn’t visit with extended family very often. I rarely saw my aunts and uncles except at my grandparents’ house. As for those, we visited my maternal grandparents several times a year even though they lived closer by where I lived as a young child than my paternal grandmother. My paternal grandmother, we saw most often and had sleepovers with each summer and sometimes at Christmas too.

I don’t think we had any rituals for the coming together. For leaving, my paternal grandmother wanted to give everyone a kiss on the cheek. I didn’t mind and hardly even noticed it until she wanted to give my husband a kiss when we last saw her in 2016. My husband politely refused.

Like I said, my sister and I had regular sleepovers at my paternal grandmother’s house. We always slept on thick matresses on the floor, but they felt pretty comfy nonetheless. My grandmother made her own quilts, so she probably lay one of them over us as a duvet.

As for my paternal grandfather, I only ever visited him for day trips, but my sister once went on a week-long trip on my grandfather’s powerboat with him. They actually slept on board.

I can’t remember whether I found saying goodbye to extended family after a visit was over difficult or not. It probably depended on how well I liked said family member.

That brings me to the question of which family member I would like to bring back to life for a visit. I’d certainly choose my paternal grandmother. I have talked positively about her many times before. She declined a lot both cognitively and physically over the last few years of her life and I didn’t feel comfortable visiting her anymore during the last eighteen months she lived. Even so, I know she remained resilient up till the end and, when she could no longer take it, I know she had seriously exhausted all possibilities of remaining optimistic. She died during palliative sedation on May 12, 2018. If I could bring her back to life for a visit, I’d tell her I’m still happily married to Jeroen. For those who don’t know, my paternal grandmother was my official witness during the wedding ceremony.

9 thoughts on “Visiting Extended Family

  1. We grew up hundreds and hundreds of miles from all of our family. Rarely saw cousins, aunts and uncles. Never knew my grandfathers. Had more regular visits with my grandmothers, but even so, only saw them twice a year if that. I remember one particular ‘goodbye’ with my parents. It was probably 15 years ago. They were standing on my brother’s porch with both he and my sister beside them. Everyone was smiling and waving goodbye to us as we pulled out of the driveway but my father. He looked so sad, so pitiful. Almost in a trance. I have a photo of that goodbye and it is hard for me to look at.

    Thank you for a thought provoking post. Enjoyed the recounting of your memories. I have a feeling your grandmother knows that you and Jeroen are still married!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I definitely feel my grandma knows somehow too. Jeroen and I lived together when she died and Jeroen had to choose between attending my grandma’s funeral and an important meeting on my care with me. He chose her funeral, because my mother-in-law could attend the meeting in his place.


  2. Interesting post. We would see my grandparents and aunts and uncle a lot. As we still live in the town where my mum and her parents grew up, we have a lot of extended families here. It makes me laugh sometimes that they are so near and we don’t see them all often. But as families grow, I suppose it’s hard to see everyone. I would love to see my Dad, Nanny and Grampy and my Grampy Evans as I never got to talk to them as an adult. Lots of love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so sad you never talked to these people as an adult. I understand you’d wish you could bring them back to life for a conversation. As for you living in the same town where your Mom grew up, I can’t imagine what that’d be like, as I was born in Rotterdam in the west of the country and have lived in the east of the country ever since age nine and in all sorts of places in the east at that.


  3. I am sorry I am so delayed in my response, Astrid. It made me smile to see you have such warm memories of your paternal grandmother. We often get such wonderful support from our grandparents.

    Liked by 1 person

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