Thursday, February 28, 2013

growing up in the good old days...

     I used to feel like I had missed out on getting to know my grandparents because we were a military family that packed and moved every two years for most of my childhood.  I envied friends and family who had stayed in one place.  They had the luxury of spending holidays with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews ... I felt like I had been cheated because I got to spend some of my holidays in Europe where we had adopted German Christmas customs as our own family customs ... something I still treasure.  Each time we moved, there were new places to see, people to meet.  We may not have had close immediate or extended family, but I learned how to make my friends my family.

     I still have treasured memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Christmases in Farmington, Michigan.  Summers in Sarasota, Florida.  A year in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Phone calls.  Letters. Cards.  Gifts.  My Uncle Howie once went to Africa and brought me back a necklace made of bone that I still have, forty years later.  Memories.

     It occurred to me this week that I had the luxury of knowing my extended family far more than my nieces and nephews ever will ... and that made me sad for them.  My grandparents have been gone for many years, and my dad since 2007.  I speak to my mom every night now, and have for almost two years ... treasuring each conversation.

     The phrase that you don't know what you have until it is gone is so true at times ... especially when it comes to family and the relationships that we have in our lives.  Family.  Friends.  Time slips by so quickly, and all we are given is just today.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is always on the horizon.

     Someone told me last year that he didn't speak to his mother because he didn't have the time to catch her up on his life, he was too busy with work and his own family.  He said that he didn't think she would be interested in what he was doing, and that there wasn't anything going on in her life that he felt he would be interested in either.  I asked him if maybe he might consider that she would just like to hear his voice, hear about his daughters, his wife, and just the "mundane" things that make up living for each of us.  I asked him if he realized that she was now in her seventies, and that he was pretty fortunate to still have her ... just how much time did he think he was going to get to make her a part of his life?

     He didn't have an answer.

     I didn't have one either when one of his daughters contacted me to find out why her father wasn't interested in her life, or in having a relationship with her.  She felt unloved, unwanted, and alone.  I reminded her that her Father has always loved her, and that He has never left her alone.  I encouraged her to let go of her hurt feelings and accept His loving embrace, and know that she was a beautiful child of God, loved, wanted, and that He was always willing to listen to her.

     The choices we make in life, are the choices we are sometimes forced to live with, especially when we realize that they may not have been "good" or "right" choices.  All we have is this day to do the best that we can and learn from yesterday.  When we make a choice to not take time to share our lives with those we love ... or those who love us ... one day we may find that we are out of time.  Conversations will be left unsaid.

     Time moves on, and it is up to us to make the best of each day and to live so that we will not one day regret the things we can no longer say.

     The last thing my dad said to me was that he wished we had talked more.  Me too, Dad.  Me too.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in a very small family. No grandparents, no cousins, aunts, uncles on either side. I felt, and still feel the loss.

    After my mother died my middle brother was researching the family tree. He tracked down some cousins that my mother had firmly denied we had. Sadly both she and her brother were dead, and now we will never know what built this wall. Steps are being made to break it down and keep it down for the survivors - but it is still a loss. A big one.