My entire immediate family gathered for the first time in five years for Mom’s 80th birthday last week. We were joined by Mom’s brother, Jerry and his wife, Elaine. It’s been almost a week since the main event, and I am still thinking about all the fun, talk, laughter, and even a few tears shared while we were together. I’m so thankful to everyone who was there: Mom, Jerry, Elaine, Xandy, Tony, Althea, Shawn, Jason and Ron. Dad would have loved it. I believe he was present in his own way.
What determines how families stay connected as they age? Mom and Dad raised four independent and headstrong individuals who (with emotional and financial help) went our own ways to pursue education, build careers, gain experience, and (in Jason’s case) serve our country. Through trial and error, we each defined the pattern of our adult lives, creating new traditions, finding personal comfort, extending our circle of loved ones through friendships and marriage - all greatly influenced by our upbringing. We are still the same in so many important ways… and yet so, so different now.
For Mom, having the whole family descend on her home in New Hampshire was a happy event; emotional and even a little overwhelming. She lives a pretty quiet life these days, and isn’t used to all the excitement a full house generates. I know that Mom loved having us all there and will be replaying last week’s gathering and celebration in her mind’s eye for a long time. So will I.
As the years pass, each time I say goodbye to Mom is more wrenching. This time, though, we expect to see each other in just three months. Mom and my little sister, Althea, will be visiting me and Ron in Prescott. We’ll look forward to that time, when we can make more memories to cherish.
Hold your loved ones closer to your heart with every passing year. Time is precious, and none of us hang around forever..