Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What really matters...

We recently returned from a trip to see family... it wasn't really a planned trip and nothing about the preparations beforehand seemed easy, but none the less we went. My husband's family was going to visit his mom for the 4th of July so we figured it was our perfect chance to get to see them (one day drive instead of three is always a nice break! )

The family portion of the trip only lasted 4 days... but it was a whirlwind of visiting, joking, eating GREAT food and most of all making memories. I watched as my girls interacted with their GREAT-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I saw them enjoying simple things as riding their scooters up and down a sidewalk and watched the wonders in their eyes as they sat amongst family and watched the fireworks display...they weren't thinking about tomorrow, or years from now, they were just being kids and enjoying the moment, enjoying these precious times with family that can't possibly be replaced by a day at an amusement park or some other big and flashy outing. They are going to remember the way their great grandparents smile at their stories, and how their Auntie Tish always spoils them.... I am so glad that they have these memories and that we took the time, like so many other trips before, to spend our vacations with family.

I had a revelation today of sorts…it seems silly now to even say it out loud but I feel the need to. As a kid, growing up in a military family and then later growing up to live a lifestyle of regular moving, it was and is just a given that any vacation time was/is going to be spent traveling to visit family in one way or another.  I have always looked at other families with a bit of envy when they got to go on fun vacations to sunny destinations or exciting places or theme parks. I always thought that it would be nice to get to do that someday…and for some those kind of vacations are great…. But today I came to the realization that I am not one of those people. Would I love to stand on a beach in Hawaii with my feet in the sand or walk the streets of historic Boston? Heck yeah, but would I chose to give up even one moment with the people I love to be able to do that? Absolutely not!  Not one memory is worth giving up, not one mile traveled was traveled in vain if it meant one more visit, one more afternoon of sitting on an elderly person’s couch looking at pictures or telling them about our life so far away….

This morning I got the call that my Great Aunt Sis, 91, had passed away…wow that feels so foreign to say out loud. Part of living so far away is that nothing like this feels real, and it never really sinks in like it would if I could be there for the closure of getting to be with family at a time like this. Instead, I sit here on the other side of the continent, looking at pictures and thinking of my much treasured memories and have a good cry… I cry out of pity for myself not for her because I know she is in a better place. But I cry just the same because another treasure of this world has left us…

She is the older sister of my Gram and for the first part of my growing up years she lived right down the street from us. I had to pass her house on my walk to and from school and she lived in a beautiful white house with a collie dog that always seemed so huge to me. I have vivid memories of sitting in her fancy dining room (I don’t know if it was all that fancy but as a kid that’s how I saw it) playing with blocks and I have faint recollection of her asking me numerous times if I was hungry. I think she was babysitting me, but I don’t remember why. It’s funny the bits and pieces that we can recall from memory.

As I grew older, and moved away, we always came back to that town, to my grandparents house and would then spend the next 2 weeks flitting from one family members house to another, trying to fit in all of those people that were so important to us. There was lots of visits over iced tea sitting in parlors (they have those back east you know) or out on a back porch where you could catch a breeze and a break from the heat (as many of those houses didn’t have AC). As a kid, I knew how important it was to get to see everyone but I must admit that sometimes I got bored. Now looking back tho, those visits taught me to value my elders. The hours we spent listening to stories were priceless. I think that so many people have missed out on that life lesson. I hope that we are teaching our girls that, that its so important to treasure those visits with loved ones and to listen to their stories while we can…

It became a tradition, and I’m not even sure how it really got started but on those vacations back east we had what we’d call lunch with the aunts. My mom, Gram, Aunt Joy and Aunt Sis, cousin Sally (and a few other cousins from time to time) would all go out to a special lunch. I remember those times with such love and joy and it makes me so sad to think that we can’t do that anymore. It’s crazy to think that it’s been over a year since we lost my AuntJoy, and now Aunt Sis too.

It’s hard to even imagine going back there and not seeing her. I try to look at it through the simplicity that my girls are experiencing it thru… we have been praying for Aunt Sis now for a long time, and we knew this day was coming as hospice had been brought in a few weeks ago but it doesn’t make it any easier. This morning when I told my youngest the news, she had the sweetest little smile on her face when she told me that she was “glad Aunt Sis is done with her miseries now but I’m gonna miss her”

I am so going to miss her but feel so lucky to have known and loved her….

1 comment:

the hermits on the hill said...

That was beautiful. Made me cry of course...And don't forget Aunt Bern was also part of the original lunch with the aunts...course she was in the nursing home for I don't know how many years when she couldn't go...before actually passing away in 2003.