[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Honourable Mention]
I was looking up family in the dictionary and I found that part of the meaning “is any group of related things or beings.” This is a perfect description of my family. We are a group of mixed up people from both black and white heritages. Most of the time it is a nuclear family consisting of my parents, my brother, my grandfather and I. And, of course, the blind dog, the fat furry one, 2 cats and a “madsick” donkey.
Sometimes we get together with the extended family in Antigua or England. This year the special occasion was my Aunt’s wedding, which took place in my backyard. They arrived after much planning between New York, London and St John’s. We had twenty odd people staying in our house, from a one-year-old cousin to a seventy-year-old Aunt with Alzheimer’s. Everyone had a role to play from the day they came to the afternoon of the wedding, whether it was clearing fridges from customs to making place settings. In the middle of all this we had our great aunt continually looking for her handbag, making cups of tea, which she then forgot about, and looking for a cab to take her back to East London.
It was happy and chaotic although the pressure seemed too much for the groom to be. An argument took place a few days before the wedding and the groom threatened to catch a plane back to England. My father, whom we never thought of as a counselor, was found having a quiet man-to-man chat with the groom. The ruffled feathers were unruffled and smoothed back in to place.
The day before the wedding the marquee was put up and the decorative finishing touches were being completed with help from the bossy American cousin with very big legs and a very short mini skirt. Suddenly it started to pour with rain and we realized that the ladies in high heels and smart dresses would be sinking into the ground if we didn’t make a safe and secure path to the marquee. Within minutes my short but strong mother and I were carrying large blocks of limestone, from the road to the marquee. This must have been an amusing sight to the big muscular London bouncers, who had come to take the groom out for his Stag night.
The next surprise was the arrival of the unexpected guests. In England “RSVP” means you let the people know whether you are coming or not. Relatives from all over the Caribbean who had not responded were arriving with their families. A look of delight, which then turned to panic, spread across my aunt’s face as she tried to calculate how far the food would spread.
On the morning of the wedding all was well until my eighteen-year-old cousin was found with his head immersed in the toilet having consumed too much alcohol on the Stag night. At this point in time we were not in our usual sympathetic mode so we dragged him out to move the tables.
Three o’clock came and the event was as romantic as we had all hoped. The food disappeared in a blink of an eye. Thankfully there was just enough for the locals to fill their takeaway containers.
The only event not planned was the romantic night between the bride and groom. Unfortunately for them it was spent in a room with their two children, my grandmother and great aunt.
Our extended family gradually departed leaving odd shoes, an extra fridge and millions of photos. Strangely whilst looking through the pictures I noticed that none of them included my cousin, who I suspect was having a very close one day relationship with the bathroom.
We are now back to our nuclear family again and are remembering what the dictionary said about a family making provision for its members, which is exactly what we did over the six weeks!
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