Almost 5 years ago, we were in a church hall in a town not far from here, celebrating my Uncle H and Auntie M's 50th wedding anniversary. It was a pleasant summer day. Maddie had just learned to walk (well - run really - she rarely bothered to walk) and wanted to spend most of the day wandering around the reception hall. For awhile I took her outside so that she could walk on the grass. My dad chuckled at her and then offered to give me a break while he happily followed her down the hall. (My introverted dad usually tired of big gatherings, so I'm sure he was happy for a little break.)
It was a pretty ordinary day. We don't see much of our aunts and uncles and cousins, so it was nice to connect with them. And of course it was lovely to spend some time with mom and dad.
That was the last time I saw my dad alive. It was the last time Maddie got to make her grandpa laugh. Two weeks later, he was killed very suddenly in a farm accident.
Another two weeks later, Uncle H, who'd just celebrated his golden wedding anniversary with his family gathered from all across Canada, dropped dead of a heart attack. We were back at that church for his funeral. And then two months after that, my grandma (dad's mom) died.
This Saturday, sitting next to my mom, who has since remarried, I was back in that same church hall, sitting at approximately the same table, watching Auntie M get married again too. (It was also the same church where I'd helped carry my grandma's casket to her grave.)
Sometimes it's a little surreal how life shakes you up and rearranges the furniture.