Blood and memories keep us together, but the bonds of family are spiritual and emotional as well. Perhaps its age and the thought that my life is on the waning edge that gives me this urge to travel; especially to see family members and the dear children and grandchildren who live so far away. I’m making an effort to see them all; first Georgia, then Seattle, and lastly Texas. In June it will be back to Georgia for a wedding celebration.
The youngest is in Minnesota, but chooses not to include me in his family events or his life for that matter. A heart-break I am learning to live with, but not to love. Distance is a big enough barrier for families without adding anger and unforgiveness as a reason to keep us apart.
With Father’s Day coming up in June I am reminded of my own father who died three months before my mother in 1999. When those you love are far away either in distance or death, the gifts of love and remembrance are far more important than material things that fade away with time.
Whenever violent spring weather blows across our country, and tornadoes, fires and flooding threaten to destroy, I’m always moved by the words of the surviving victims. “It’s just things,” most say. “You can always replace stuff, but you can’t replace a loved one.”
As they rummage through their remains, it is always the found photographs or the small personal items that belonged to a loved one that warms their hearts. The loss of home and its contents are not as destructive as the death of a loved one or the reminders of their well lived and cherished lives.
My granddaughter, Rachel, gave me a book titled “What I’m about” with her photograph on the cover. She illustrated the book with her own artwork and filled it with printed text. Rachel was seven years old. I learned that her favorite color was blue and that on her birthday there were seven candles on her cake: “Light blue like the shimmering blue sky in the summer,” she wrote.
She drew a picture of her family with colored pencils. “My family is so fun and jumpy. My dad helps me do things I can’t do. He teaches me things I don’t know. My mom cooks wonderful Korean food. When I eat it I feel like the luckiest person.”
I learned a lot about my son’s family in those statements. Last summer, Rachel stayed with us for almost three weeks. She has grown into this beautiful young woman full of hopes and dreams. She is working on a Public Relations and a Marketing degree that she will finish up in another two years. Her family is still “fun and jumpy.”
My oldest daughter, Pam, has over the years given us personal calendars with their photographs and compiled books with the past year in photos. These catch us up-to-date on the family activities that we miss out on because of the miles in between Fort Myers and Seattle.
I gave my grandfather whom I loved dearly, a poem reminding him how much I appreciated what he did for me. Grandpa had all granddaughters. As a school teacher and biologist, he taught us all so much. I will share my poem here.
When I was just a little girl
With shiny, bouncy curls,
I’d sit on Grandpa’s favorite chair
With all the other girls.
And when the room was quiet
And manners were in place,
He’d find his “magic” pocket
With a twinkle on his face.
He’d pass out gum or candy,
A special treat for everyone;
And little hearts were merrier,
When grandpa joined our fun.
Downstairs the basement’s secret coves
Became our stage for play;
And battlegrounds and sailing ships
Became as real as day.
When minds became exhausted,
We’d flop upon the bed
And read from Grandpa’s school books
Till sleep turned every head.
Those sunlit days in Gramp’s back yard
I still remember well;
We watched and listened carefully
To stories he would tell.
We felt the surge of freedom
Wild birds know in their flight;
We saw the beauty in a flower
And knew the joy of sight.
His gentle hands became a stage
Where insects crawled and wriggled;
Our eyes in wonderment beheld
Our young mouths shrieked and giggled.
He taught us to be thankful for
Those simple things in life,
The priceless gifts of nature
That bring awe and wonders rife.
Now when I see a sunset’s glow
Or take a flower in my hand,
Or watch a butterfly take wing
I take a hold of Grandpa’s hand.
Though miles and years shall separate
My heart remembers still;
Each gift of nature I behold
Brings Grandpa back at will.
Love Carol and family
By today’s standards, this composition may be a tad sappy, but grandpa loved it!