Families are Forever #Families #Children
I am blessed to be part of a family that both loves each other, and enjoys spending time together.
Yesterday 16 of our 17 family members met in the tree-shaded backyard of the home my brother and his wife purchased more than 40 years ago. Tiny trees have become towering giants that shade the spacious green lawn and a multitude of shrubs and flowers. First generation children are now parents: the oldest grandchild just graduated from high school.
Laughter and shouting filled the air from a rollicking Capture the Flag game and brought back memories of other such gatherings. Slippy slides. Hide-and-seek. Tag. Tree climbing in the big maple. Some games in which I took part for years but am now content to be a cheering spectator. Other events and moment that stand out.
Why does our family remain close in spite of distance and the demands of busy lives?
Family values. We are all unique but share a common heritage born of centuries old traditions. Retelling of happenings from the "olden days" never grow stale. One Thanksgiving when the power went out and we waited for the turkey to cook on a barbecue, my mother (in her 80s) related stories from her past--including being chased by a cougar on a Thanksgiving decades earlier. It was later agreed the candle-lamplight celebration was one of the best holidays ever.
Everyone is important--youngsters are not left out. I've never before seen 9 Capture the Flag participants who range from 17 (2), 15 (2), 13 (1) 11, (2) down to a 7-year-old, and an almost-9-year-old. Yet it is typical of a family that is proud of everyone's accomplishments and loves sharing details of what is happening in each person's life.
When I was a skinny, scrawny 11-year-old and my 6-year-old brother was even skinnier and scrawnier due to having three childhood diseases one following another. a bully at the bus stop told him, "I think I'll slap your face."
No you won't." I said.
"Then I'll slap you." Great. She could easily wipe up the ground with me. But no way was she going to hit my still-puny little brother.
WHAM. I staggered then managed a feeble slapi n return. . Good thing the driver showed up just then!
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Five years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, my first concern was how to tell my family. We'd already gone through it with my brother and sister-in-law. The words of a niece forever remain in my mind: "We've done it before. We can do it again." Supported by faith, family, and friends, I came through so well that my top-notch doctors and nurses still call me their miracle patient.
Laughter is a priority in our family. We recall silly things from the past, and get many a chuckle from the current generation's contributions. Certain comments stand out such as the beautiful summer day in 2011 when we did a balloon release at a military cemetery in honor of my brother's passing.
As the sky filled with the colorful tribute I told my 10-year-old great-nephew, "I'll bet Grandpa is up there saying thanks for the nice weather for this."
His quick reply is one of my most treasured memories. " I think he's sayng thanks for the balloons."
I am thankful for the precious gift of memories that allows us to look to the future but remember the past. God willing, we will have many more family celebrations . . . times to reflect and rejoice, to laugh together and sometimes cry. These are the golden ties that bind families and generations together. and help provide stability in a this often topsy-turvy world.