I managed to spend most of today enjoying a BBQ and a relaxing bit of napping and conversation with some distant and largely unknown relatives at a place that was rather familiar. The result was generally enjoyable and amusing. A significant part of the conversation, at least the conversation I took part in, involved either concerns I can understand very well or subjects I was very interested in, like family history. One of my distant cousins, who I have a somewhat tense relationship with at church, had a rather amusing thought concerning the fact that we are related –something she saw through the research printed out by the hostess. She said she wasn’t sure how she felt about the fact that we were related, to which I replied that it didn’t necessarily matter how she felt about it, which she, being a rather unsentimental sort of person, quite agreed with. This was not the extent of our conversation about family history, which included some discussions about how her own paternal life stops abruptly with her paternal grandfather who apparently changed his name for some reason and started another family, something that is lamentably common.
One of the quirky aspects of the day was the fact that the yellow jackets were out in force. I must admit that I have never seen the yellow jackets out the way that they were today. While I was eating I found myself swarmed by dozens of the infernal insects, most notable for being the mascot of the Georgia Tech athletic teams. It is fortunate that I am not allergic to the animals, because they sure liked me and the food I was eating, and everyone else we were around. One of the people I was sitting with was making a habit of swatting the yellow jackets to death and putting them on a napkin, and it was remarkable just how slow the insects were at realizing that around the food was not a safe place to be. Of course, it is possible to be too hard on insects. If human beings, possessed of far more intellect than bees and their cousins, can find themselves continually in places that are unsafe because of their hungers and longings, perhaps it is little surprise that the same would be the case for insects of the stinging variety.
At times, people can get overwhelmed by the logistics of get-togethers, and such was the case here. Sometimes it can be the source of humor, and it can lead others (especially those of us with a fine sense of wit) to comment somewhat dryly about such matters. For example, the hostess of today’s soiree seemed a bit overwhelmed, which is not too surprising. Not only was it her responsibility to take care of her aged father, who was quite enjoyable to talk to, even if his hearing and eyesight are going and he nears a century in age, but she was also the main cook of food, somehow managing to cook a couple of extra casseroles that never made it out to the food on the table that we happily devoured. In addition to that, she was planning on leaving for a couple of weeks with her father and another relative down to California, and no doubt the logistics of that trip were wearing on her a bit. It is easy for us to struggle when we are keeping so many things in mind, and I tend to be compassionate with those who struggle to do everything they are called to do without lapses when their minds and attentions are so heavily taxed.
One of the more poignant aspects of the conversation that we had in the evening, before I left for home, was the discussion we had about matters of loneliness and death. One of the people I had never met before works two jobs so that he doesn’t have to spend much time at home, where he mainly eats ramen noodles with hot dogs and various condiments. He indicated that since the death of his wife, he has had little reason to want to be home in a lonely house, and where he is plagued by unwanted thoughts, and so he works himself and has even taken CDL classes to possibly drive as an independent trucker so that he can keep busy and keep away from home. My hostess’ father commented about how he could not stay in Oregon after the death of his wife some decades ago, which he admitted he was still not over, and how he lives alone in Georgia without a great deal of company, and with a great many people who appear to want to take advantage of him. It is a terrible thing to live a long time, only to have one’s longevity and one’s success inspire those who want to take advantage of it, all while one nurses wounds and heartbreaks that may never heal. It was certainly a conversation that provided a great deal of food for thought, if not the sort of food that draws yellow jackets to their doom.
 See, for example: