Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Pollock Reunion: Five Sibs and a Houseful of Family Chat, Eat, Play and Have a Ball.

I tell you, our house has never been so packed, noisy, and brimming with joy and laughter.

A wild party? In a way, yes, judging from all the storytelling, smiles, joking around, hugs, all  with everybody feasting on food fit for royalty: shrimp, lasagna from Val's in Holden, homemade meatballs, chicken, salads, fruit plates, homemade pies, cakes, and cookies galore.  Yummy!

It was a Pollock family reunion hosted by Barbara and me at our place.  The key word here is "family."  That is something that I and my four younger siblings were forced to spend our entire childhoods without. No father, who died when we were six and under. A toxic mom who quickly abandoned us all to state care where we spent our entire childhoods in uncaring, ever-changing foster homes.

Former foster kids routinely drop into lonely, failed lives. Many end up in prison. Somehow, all five of us not only survived but went on to build happy, successful, family-packed lives and today live in nice homes in respectable neighborhoods. I have documented our horrendous childhoods and described how each of us got to where we are today. For that story, click here.

Check out the above links and you will surely see why this Pollock reunion was such a happy blast.  Growing up, never, never could we have imagined such a gathering.  But here we are at the Pollock reunion, all five siblings with our real Aunt Lillian:

 Aunt Lillian is center, between Ruby (left) and Marion  (right). From top left are Reggie the baby, me the oldest, and Vic in between. On my neck chain is a ring that may-- or may not-- be our dad's. Unlike our  mom, our dad was a decent person.

Got our last name?  Yes? Good. The sweaters are doing their job. They were designed and handmade by our daughter Misha, who lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband Ed and four grandkids (out of a total of 10 grandkids.) The fish  is perfect for us since all three of us guys love the water, me for swimming and my two brothers for fishing -- not to mention that there is a fish by the name of Pollock.

When I'm swimming in my sister Ruby's lake in Oxford, Mass., Vic and Reg fish. I take a deep breath and go underwater to warn my fish friends to stay away from their hooks no matter how tasty they look. Sorry bros, love you both, but my fish friends are also family to me!

Now here is the group photo of the whole gang at the Pollock reunion:

Talk about family! From no family growing up, we five Pollocks are today surrounded by family --packing the entire living room. Where am I? Top right beside Aunt Lillian.Vic stole my spot front and center!

Early on my son Jon and wife Laurie and their two kids Aidan and Nathaniel let me know that they were not able to come. They had a previous commitment, involving kids' activities, in Vermont that had to be kept. Also, my other son Greg told me that he would be unable to come because of job commitments.

Bummer.  But, unknown to me, Jon and Greg would each deliver a delightful surprise.

Jon and Laurie shortly invited Barbara and me to their home in Berkley, Mass. where they gave us a wonderful early Christmas present.  They drove us early in the evening to Providence. They left Aidan, now a responsible young adult of 14, to look after his younger brother Nathaniel.

There at a downtown restaurant the four of us had a yummy pizza feast. Then we went on to see the musical "Once," which was terrific. Jon and Laurie picked up the tab for it all. We stayed overnight at their home. In the morning, Laurie fixed us a great french toast and sausage breakfast. Thanks Jon and Laurie for a great time that Barbara and I will remember always!

Now the other wonderful surprise. On the day of the Pollock reunion, I came out of the bathroom and walked into the kitchen -- and nearly had a heart attack. There standing in the kitchen were son Greg and his wife Kelly with huge, mischievous smiles!  They had driven all the way from Pennsylvania!

I ran into their arms. Here is a photo of Greg and me just after I saw him:

Two greybeards! Never in a million years could I have imagined myself having a kid with grey hair! With people who don't know any better, I just tell them that he's my kid brother.  We could pass for brothers, don't you think?

On my last birthday, Greg and Jon surprised me with a gathering at the Merrimack College rink in North Andover, Mass. I had gone to Merrimack on a full four-year ice hockey scholarship. They contacted teammates from those old days, arranged for use of the college rink, and there I was out there like the old days skating and chasing a puck.

It was the best birthday ever.

Greg is a Child of Africa. He was born in Kisumu, Kenya where I was a teacher for two years way back in the early 60's. He survived malaria in Kenya and later dengue fever in Maidugeri, Nigeria, where I taught for a year. Below left is a photo of Greg as a baby in Kisumu, Kenya. Yup, he was playing the drums just like any other child in Africa.

Below was Greg in Kisumu,  with his Ayah Philomena and a little African playmate.

And now he's a greybeard? Where did all those years go?

One thing is sure, this  reunion will live on in our hearts.

So long and keep moving.

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