I suppose you can call my family dysfunctional because the only time we hold successful family reunions is when a relative dies.
Stark, but true. In 1991 not even the ashfall from Pinatubo’s eruption kept us from coming to Manila from all over, to attend my paternal grandmother Purificacion’s wake and burial. In 1996 we all flocked to the Ateneo in Katipunan to pay our respects to my uncle Amando. Tomorrow, Amando’s eldest brother Jesus will be laid to rest. This leaves their two younger siblings Teresita (the aunt who raised me) and Oscar (my dad). Sure enough, my dad is flying in tomorrow. I haven’t seen him since 2002, which was the last time I went to Cebu for my annulment hearings.
Having all these relatives in one place is like stepping into a time warp. I feel both young AND old, seeing all these aunts who have at one time or another, acted as babysitter to tantrum-prone me; and then seeing these nieces and nephews who I last saw as toddlers, now all grown up and with their own families to boot. A young aunt who used to take care of me on weekends just this evening wanted to pull me out from the sidewalk when I stepped out in the rain without an umbrella.
I still haven’t figured out why deaths are a far more effective causal agent for reunions than weddings, for our family anyway. It may seem strange for outsiders observing us from a distance, the joyous smiles on our faces, the repeated bursts laughter. The officiating priest at my grandmother’s burial had observed this quaint behaviour, and had begun his sermon saying he admired our attitudes and how we had accepted with gladness the passing of the grand lady—upon which we all promptly burst into tears.