Saturday, March 29, 2008


Family Reunion Weekend

The constellations must have been in a weird sync the last few days.

On Thursday, I had dinner and drinks with two cousins whom I hadn't previously met. D'Arcy Sallion (on the left in the below picture) -- son of my father's brother of the same name -- was born and raised in London, where he still lives. Steve Sallion (in the middle) is the son of my father's brother Clayton. He was born and raised in Brooklyn. He and I had communicated a few times over the years, but had never actually met. Shockingly, we found out that we were only a few blocks from one another (when I was still living in Brooklyn).

Both of them are doing quite well. D'Arcy is involved in international brand-marketing; Steve raises capital for real-estate ventures. Oh, and the ubiquitous Facebook brought us together. I did a search on their last name, since it's not overly common. They both popped up and we re-connected. D'Arcy let us know that he was flying to our ancestral home of Trinidad and had a twelve-hour layover in New York. So, without further ado, we made plans.

It was a great time all around. Steve and I found out we have a couple of mutual friends.

Completely coincidentally, my parents -- who have been divorced for thirty years -- separately decided to visit Trinidad in the last couple of weeks. Mom (currently living in St. Croix) was staying with her older sister Cythia; Dad (who's been residing in Los Angeles for decades) was staying with his surviving brother Clyde (both D'Arcy and Steve's fathers are deceased).

Mom and Dad aren't exactly on friendly terms (though after all these years, she goes by her married name, Umilta Sallion -- though I use her maiden name George). Still, I gave her Uncle Clyde's phone number, in case she wanted to put in a courtesy call. When Mom visited me over Christmas, she spoke briefly with Dad and they were cordial. Even so, I had thoughts about checking CNN during the week for reports of any mushroom clouds over Trinidad.

Anyway, my phone rings on Saturday afternoon. It was Mom, calling from Aunt Cynthia's. I figured she was calling to let me know she'd had a good week and was planning on flying back to St. Croix Sunday. So, I talked to her for a few minutes, noticing a lot of noise in the background. Then she said, "Hold on a moment." Next thing I know I'm talking to a familiar voice. The weird thing was though, between the long-distance service and my cell phone, I initially thought I was talking to one of my cousins on my Mom's side. But no, it was my Dad, Adrian Sallion.

As it happened, Mom called Dad's brother and found out that he was living barely two blocks down the street from her sister. So, when they called me, there was a full-fledged family reunion going on. Dad's sister Bernice who moved back to Trinidad a few years ago was there, as were Aunt Cynthia's family. The only ones missing were my Dad's other sister Joyce, who lives in Atlanta, my sister Angelique and myself.

Mom said she and Dad had a good time catching up; as she reminded me, the last time they had seen each other was 30 years ago in court ("and not the tennis court," Mom added -- yeah, she has a similar warped sense of humor as I do). She said something along the lines of, "We're all getting too old to hold onto these grudges and ill feelings."

Anyway, as soon as I got off the phone, I called my sister who, fortunately, was home. I just gave her Aunt Cynthia's number and told her to call right away -- without telling her why (only to tell her that it wasn't an emergency, but it was "important"). I told her to call me back after she was finished.

After about 20 minutes, she called me back and we had a good laugh over the events. That was good in itself, given that things had been somewhat strained between the two of us since my sister got married last fall (her inability to tell Mom, Dad or myself about the wedding until after the fact caused a bit of tension over the holidays). But, the weekend's magical feelings touched us too. She told me about a new business venture she's trying to get underway. I also found out that my sister is a registered Democrat (strangely, this had never come up before) who voted for Obama in the Georgia primary.

And so it went, a truly remarkable couple of days -- one of which didn't even require me to leave my apartment.

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