Last weekend I had my brothers and their families over for a big, family barbecue. It was the first real opportunity we’d had to get together at our new home at Sunshine Cove, since we’d moved to the Sunshine Coast.
As always there was plenty of joking, beer and enough food to put everyone into a full on coma. By about 10am everyone had arrived, all bringing their contributions to the cook out – enough sausages, steaks and bacon to clear out a butcher’s shop, and enough beer, rum and soft drink to fill our pool, not to forget the white wine greatly favoured by our much ‘classier’ wives. How’d we get so lucky? Neanderthals like us marrying such queens.
As always we men gathered around the barbecue, arguing over who would be ‘THE’ cook this time around. My youngest brother can’t cook a steak worth a dam, the middle brother can never crisp bacon quite like I can, and I of course am flawless, although that’s not how they see it. We stood around arguing in jest; as usual my oldest took the reigns and got started without us even noticing. So the rest of us headed out onto the boardwalk to wet a line, taking no notice of the cackling coming from behind the raised glasses.
We took my Bluetooth speaker and a few cold ones to set up shop just beyond our gate that backs onto the Sunshine Cove Lake boardwalk, just to keep an eye on the cook. As always it became a competition. First, who can tie the best fishing line knot? Who can bait their hook the cleanest? Who can cast the furthest? Depending who you ask, you’ll get different answers, but my wife assures me mine was very impressive, the condescending head pat probably wasn’t necessary but I know better than to argue.
Usually I’m the annoying presence snapping photos of the family bonding, but this time my youngest son beat me to it. He was sneakier as no one has time to set a pose with this little ninja behind the lens. He snaps the most brilliant photos that out of context seem so hilarious, who knew we pulled such faces? Or could laugh so heartily? Only around family could you see such relaxed and contented interaction. I don’t think I’m ever as happy as I was then, looking back at my family laughing and happily chatting, as I stood, standing shoulder to shoulder with my brothers, our children happily bonding as they always had since they were so very little. What a family we have raised. I couldn’t ask for a better place to host my family, the weather was perfect, as always, and the view beautiful. Our wonderful neighbours dropped by to say the obligatory hello, and to have a beer or two adding to the fun of the afternoon.
Over the course of time I have taken a very specific photo of our children, as often as I can, to document their growth. I remember the first one well, before the youngest of our clan was even born, I lined all the cousins up along the back fence at my mother’s house. My boys have always been tall for their age, at the time my oldest dwarfed his older cousin and the youngest easily, the massive smile on his face in the photo will always be fixed in my mind. The girls with their curls flanked him either side, glasses too big for their faces, gumboots and dressing gowns adorned the littlest. My youngest son and his closest cousin, just slightly taller than he, rounded off the image, resting their heads on each other out of boredom. They moaned and groaned every year, and for a while I stopped, but this year I decided to try one more time, and the nostalgia and excitement amongst the kids was palpable. They re-created it perfectly, this time with the newer addition, the backdrop not an old, rickety wooden fence, but the beautiful and dazzling lake that flanks my home, the sun and sky’s reflection dancing around on its surface. It was cute, adorable and I’ve never felt more pride in my family than during this moment. Seeing them all together again, so much older and wiser, yet still so gleeful and laughing as they have always been. I felt old of course, but I accepted it.
One day, hopefully not too soon, it will be these cousins lining up their offspring begrudgingly for their own photo, the next generation of the clan.