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A salute to family and its individual working parts August 18, 2009

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
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Stella family reunion along Conesus Lake with youngest cousin front and center

Stella family reunion along Conesus Lake with youngest cousin front and center

“Did Aunt Mary date at all after Uncle Burt passed away?” I was already pretty confident of the answer, but I posed the questions anyway to her daughters—my cousins Sandra, seated to my left, and Suzanne, directly to my right. “No,” replied Suzanne. “She’d always say, ‘I don’t want to get stuck taking care of another old man.’”

Yep, that was Aunt Mary!

There isn’t a single member of my family that didn’t admire Aunt Mary’s zest for life. It embodied a spirit of independence that flourished nearly until the day she died—just over a year ago at the age of 94. Nothing meant more to her than family, so it seemed fitting to evoke her memory at a reunion of Stella family descendents, hosted by Suzanne and her husband Bob at their home on Conesus Lake this past weekend.

The Stella family, probably in the early 1930s. That's Aunt Mary seated to the left. Dad, the baby, is standing second from the right.

The Stella family, probably in the early 1930s. That's Aunt Mary seated to the left. Dad, the baby, is standing second from the right.

My dad and his sister Anna are the surviving members of Aunt Mary’s generation. But Aunt Anna is no longer well enough to participate in such gatherings, so as the Stella family patriarch, it fell on Dad to assume his place at the center of ceremony. For him, not one to shy away from the limelight, I’m sure the Conesus shoreline on a sunny summer Sunday represented a small slice of heaven, particularly with all five of his kids in attendance.

As I suspect is true with most extended families, gatherings such as these are often reserved to commemorate milestones, and they can be burdened by formalities. But the informal nature of this occasion provided a wide array of dialogue opportunities. As the youngest cousin, I find it fun sometimes to simply listen. Many stories predated me, but others rekindle childhood memories. My brother Chris, who is nine years older than me, reminisced about his early teenage years driving a ‘lot car’ in the field out behind our family’s house. How I loved hitching a ride in that lot car!

Dad and my cousin Suzanne, our hostess

Dad and my cousin Suzanne, our hostess

Conversations also offered me a chance to indulge some personal interests—like insights on writing and editing from my cousin Billy, the published author, and strategies related to retail and property management from his brother Michael, the mall general manager.

And when it comes to politics, there’s my cousin Tommy. As a town councilman in my hometown of LeRoy, it seems he is constantly campaigning. Defeated during his first run several years ago, Tom was appointed to a vacated post on council just one year later. The next year, he successfully ran to retain his seat for the remainder of its term, and now he runs to secure a full term this November. Campaigning as a Democrat in Genesee County is no small undertaking, but my cousin the ‘Blue Dog’ proudly touts his Conservative Party endorsement. “Yeah,” he said with a grin, “now I wonder how they’ll feel when they hear I was just endorsed by the Working Families Party.”

Different interests and different lifestyles are what make everyone uniquely fascinating. It’s important to celebrate the spirit of independence that exists in each of us. And as Aunt Mary showcased throughout her lifetime, that spirit is best when served up in the presence of family.

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Comments»

1. Pattie Stella - August 19, 2009

Nice Job Paul.

2. Conesus lake property | Lake Property and Houses - September 25, 2009

[…] A salute to family and its individual working partsNothing meant more to her than family, so it seemed fitting to evoke her memory at a reunion of Stella family descendents, hosted by Suzanne and her husband Bob at their home on Conesus Lake this past weekend. …  read more… […]


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