My friend Melanie is a trooper, and loads of fun too.

Yesterday was Sunday, July 15th. Not wildly significant for most people. But it was also the third Sunday in the month of July. Again, still not significant … but for me, for the last fifty years, this is the day reserved to honor my mother’s mother’s family.

The third Sunday of July is the McKinlay Reunion. Yesterday was the fiftieth occurrence of this phenomenon.

In the good old days we would arrive at noon and the lunch would be put out buffet style. We’d dine and dash out of doors to play with our cousins. Games would be organized by the adults and I once won a prize for being able to whistle immediately after eating a cracker.

Fifty years ago …

After an afternoon of play we would resume our assault on the food table and enjoy a quieter supper before everything was packed up and we said goodbye to relatives we might not see again til next year. As a child I did not notice that some of them never returned.

Fast forward to present day

Yesterday, I made the desert I planned to take with me. My friend Melanie, who had graciously agreed to come along, made peach pies. I was late with my cooking – big surprise. Long story short, my food wasn’t ready til the time we were due to arrive at the reunion venue. Then I remembered that they wanted me to bring my guitar. I had it in the case, but hadn’t loaded it into my truck.

"Made In Canada - With Scottish Parts!" I impulsively bought this ... but how could I have resisted?

As everything was coming together, sort of, I realized I wasn’t dressed. Okay, I was dressed, in clothes I cook in, not the attire one wears to a family reunion. I scrambled for my clean shorts and the tee shirt I’d bought for the occasion, at a grocery store, for way too much money (blog post on impulse shopping in the making there …).

“Arrival at noon, lunch at 1pm sharp!”

Really? Not me. Actually, that ought to read “That’s really not me!” At 1:45 I was finally in the lineup for lunch. My friend was a trooper, she never said a word about how late we were. But then, ADHD is highly heritable, everyone else was just as late. I love my family!

We got our lunch and sat down to eat. The entertainment went well, years ago I had written a song for my clan and I was conscripted to lead the singing of this anthem. I didn’t say they had good taste in music …

How did it go?

To review, I was late, and I was unprepared. I wanted to do more in advance, but was lucky I got the things done that I did. In the end, I was not upset. I didn’t care. I was among family and friends who know my quirks and who love me for them, not just in spite of them.

The epilogue

My memories of this event are many and wonderful. I can turn quickly into the ancient stone inn where we hold the reunion (my father used to call it the “family rebellion” …) and catch a glimpse of my late grandmother, but when I look again, it’s my aunt that stands where I thought I’d seen the vision that is woven through much of my childhood happiness. My aunt is a good replacement, and the happy memories that haunt me from her face are welcome ones. Other times I see my grandpa, or my mother. Always they are welcome.

And here is my value

As the years go by, I’ve become the one that people catch a glimpse of and think, for a minute, that they’ve seen someone from our past. And I can do that, ADHD or not. I am still a family member, still a human, still a man. I am, in spite of the name I carry and in spite of my ADHD, a member of Clan McKinlay. There are some things that stigma, labels and diagnosis cannot take away from us.