FOCUS: Family Reunions

Personal Mastery

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves.
Gail Lumet Buckley


Coming from the east and the west, my family converged at an old family house in Inverness, California, to celebrate many birthdays, an adoption day and my cancer-free status. My first marriage, which took place in Inverness 50 years ago, lasted only 8 years. And yet, looking around, who could call it a failure? Without it many of the people gathered wouldn’t exist! This group included my children and their children and the West Coast dogs, and my brother and sister and their families. People walked, talked, laughed, reminisced, picked blackberries, went to the beach, played Dictionary, cooked and ate together in a way that organized itself. Fianna, age 2 ½, was the star of the show, meeting and charming some relatives and the Pacific Ocean for the first time. 


Not everything went smoothly. A bee remover had to come and remove an absconding hive that had embedded itself into the window of the small auxiliary sleeping house.  A car used to blow up a mattress locked itself with the motor on, and AAA had to find us in this remote spot to open the door and charge the dead battery. Worst of all, 8 ½ months pregnant niece Ashley fell and broke her ankle the day before she was supposed to join us. She had emergency surgery and was able to come for a small visit the last day. (Megan Louise was born safely 10 days later!)

The thing I liked best was how my family handled these potential derailers. People did what needed to be done. We worried, but did not fall apart. The party went on.


The young people rowed across the bay for oysters, which we barbecued and ate with delight. Group-made guacamole, fish soup and blackberry pie were on the menu Saturday night.  Because my birthday is a particularly milestony one (70), I got special attention. That night everyone appeared in pink teeshirts with my picture on them. I got interviewed. There were cheers and pictures. It was a high old time!


It was amazing to be with this whole group and realize I am now the matriarch. Oddly, that felt like a call to DO less and BE more. I am delighted that my own children are such capable, creative grown-ups, who still know how to play. I saw the maturity of my grandsons, now towering over me. And miraculously felt the sweetness of their childhood selves still. I roomed with Ruthie, my magical, 14-year-old-soulmate granddaughter. We talked and giggled and I felt young. It was great to have a toddler among us, who called us all to stay responsive.

Visits to the beach tied past, present and future together inside me. I remembered the sand in my feet, the crashing of the waves and the feeling of ocean breezes whipping my hair around, smelling alternately fresh and fishy. I collected small rocks that had been tumbled smooth and beautiful by the waves. I imagined they were older than me.


I’m very lucky to have a lovable, quirky family. Some families are not so enjoyable. Still, it’s probably wise to remember what Mother Theresa once said, People are generally irrational, unreasonable and selfish. They deserve to be loved anyway.


  1. When was your last family reunion? How do you envision the next?

  2. What words would you use to describe your family?

  3. How might you see your family through new eyes?

  4. Is there a family member with whom you’ve longed to mend a fence? What are you waiting for?

  5. Reflect on how this quote from Kendall Hailey applies to you: The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.

  6. If your own family is not up for a reunion, with what “family in the world” might you have a reunion?


Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

There won't be a telegathering this month because I'm still traveling.


Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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