My mother was big on family. Huge. She was one of four children whose mother was one of five children. I grew up knowing all of them, including my grandmother’s siblings. And their children. And their children.
Our family is dysfunctional, because let’s face it, everyone’s family has a little dysfunction. If our families were all perfectly adjusted, how boring life would be. But I grew up in the warm embrace of grandparents, aunt and uncles, and cousins who are more like siblings.
My ex-husband and I raised our three kids the same way. They grew up spending every birthday and major holiday with family. My kids are friends with their cousins and genuinely look forward to seeing aunts and uncles. My mother-in-law, in her eighties, is still the family matriarch. And even though I am not legally a member of the family, I know I could go to any one of them in a crisis. That’s real family.
My daughter now has a family of her own and carries on that tradition of kin that her grandmother instilled in me, and I in her.
My grandson has all four grandparents within a five-minute drive and we all take advantage of this blessing. I don’t think more than a day or two goes by between the baby’s visits with extended family. He is learning his great-grandmother’s legacy of family early in life.
My grandson and I have begun our own family ritual. Every Sunday, while my son-in-law is at work, my daughter, my grandson, and I have an outing together. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a trip to the store is unimportant. It is the lesson of the importance of family that I hope continues with the newest generation of our family.
Thursday came and Thursday went. I am presently visiting my 83 year old dad and oddly enough, he doesn’t feel the need to have Internet. Killjoy. So today I am at the closest wifi location I can get.
So here’s a little of this and a little of that.
My dad’s sweetie, Carolyn is 86 years old today. She still looks exquisite every day. Makeup, jewels, and impeccable taste in clothing. And as sweet and funny as the day is long. Happy birthday to our Carolyn!
My dad will be attending his 65th high school reunion this summer. I found some great air fares that he just couldn’t refuse. It’s also the bicentennial of our home town, so my daughter and I, along with Carolyn, will also fly up. My dad grumbled that half his class is no longer living. My eldest child pointed out that at this stage of the game, he should be looking at this as more of a glass-half-full situation. That made him laugh!
It feels like summer here in sunny Florida, but in reality it’s spring as evidenced by the tornado that touched down in Ft. Myers yesterday. According to the newpaper, Florida is the tornado capital of the U.S. However, Florida tornados are usually very short in duration and weak in strength. I’m okay with that.
I’m off to the pool soon and then out to dinner – Florida in March is awesome!
This afternoon my daughter, who is expecting her first child, and I went shopping for school clothes for her. I still remember the summer before my daughter started kindergarten when my mom and I took child #1 school clothes shopping for the very first time. It was such a milestone for me, and my mother had a ball shopping for little girl clothes for her first grandchild. We finished our shopping spree with lunch out “for us girls” at the Olive Garden. My mother died six years later, so that memory is especially precious for me.
Today was not nearly as momentous. Child #1 was having a bad day and I am trying to shake whatever infection I have that has my ear hurting, my lymph nodes swollen, my left eye swollen and itchy blotches popping out on my face. I look fabulous by the way. It has been raining steadily for a couple days now. But we both needed to get out of the house.
I’m glad we went. There is something so intensely satisfying to me about spending time alone with any of my three children. I marvel at what amazing people they’ve become. My daughter spoke to me about raising children – as a teacher herself, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is proud of the fact that she was raised by fairly strict parents. Her dad and I were also raised by pretty strict parents, and it seems to have served both my ex-husband and I well. Although neither her father nor I have much money, she grew up in a part of town where some neighborhoods had million dollar homes and their schoolmates’ parents might just as easilyhave been attorneys or doctors as teachers and truck drivers. My kids saw first hand that some parents treated their children to whatever they wanted and defended or outright denied their child’s misbehavior. All three of my children have thanked me and their dad for raising them the way we have.
I have made mistakes in my life, a couple of them whoppers which affected my children adversely. They haven’t always been happy with me or their father, and we can say the same about them. We have not expected each other to support or condone our poor choices. We know we are responsible for cleaning up our own messes. But we also know that no matter what mistakes any of us make, there is at the core of it all an unyielding, abiding love.
It’s late, but before I call it quits for tonight, I wanted to share what’s making me happy right now.
~ My brother is visiting from New York and we are keeping each other entertained. There’s more, but I’ll save that for another post.
~ My dog is softly snoring on her bed right next to where I’m working.
~ I had a wonderful dinner with my ex, my daughter, and my son-in-law.
~ Someone I once taught and care for greatly just got a clean bill of health. He fought brain tumors for several years and has been free of them for a year and a half now!
~ My daughter made a beautiful cake for her baking class and got an A.
God is good and I am blessed.
I spent most of the weekend in bed with a migraine. What’s new? Anyway, I crawled out of bed this morning and headed into work, wishing the entire time I was back in bed.
This morning one of my students mentioned she had moved over the weekend and didn’t have her backpack. I told her no problem – maybe Mom could go back and get it. Later, this child had a big meltdown while with another teacher, crying and upset. Her grandmother picked her up and she left school. After talking with her mom, I learned they left home quickly over the weekend and were in a shelter. Mom was crying, worried sick about her daughter.
My head didn’t seem like such a big deal after that. I could take some medicine and get through the day.
This evening we had a family dinner at my daughter’s house. Everyone laughed and teased and ate good food, and I marveled at how blessed my children and I are. We sat in a warm home with people to whom we trust our lives, without fear of what tomorrow might bring.
Food, shelter, family, safety. Big blessings.