I’m on my flight home from the annual trip to my ‘homeland’, Alberta. In ten days it was impossible to catch up with a lifetime of family and friends (although my efforts to do so were heroic) but even if I’d had more days or had reconfigured my ‘flat-out’ schedule to include a few more get-togethers, my energy reserves for visiting and re-telling my last year are depleted.
It’s been great – delicious (and abundant) food, generous gifts of time shared with those not on vacation like myself, wishes granted to just ‘be’ with my Dad and to see many of my senior aunts and uncles.
A few thanksgivings from my visits with some of those of that generation who have helped shape and continue to influence my life.
- my Dad - for his faith, his contentment and adjustment to the changes in his home: who can still make me feel like his little girl when he slips me a bill for my lunch
- an uncle, less self-absorbed with his aches and pains than most of us many years younger - me included
- an aunt, who celebrated her 89th birthday, ready to try Greek food specialties for the first time
- a classy aunt with manicured nails and a dignified walk – more intent on embroidering tablecloths than focusing on the aches of arthritis
- an aunt, whose marriage commitment is approaching 60 years and can honestly express that, ‘through sickness and in health’ can be tough
- an uncle whose humour remains as consistent as his conscientious church-custodian duties
There were five of us kids in our family, yet my parents’ hospitality ensured our small farmhouse regularly bulged with extended family – for birthdays, holiday celebrations, football games, skating parties. These get-togethers were sometimes spontaneous, always involved copious amounts of food, and though I don’t remember hearing my parents discuss and analyze these ‘quality’ relationships, I grew up with a sure sense that they were important – these were the people you knew that loved and supported you.
This recent connecting with relatives, senior and otherwise, was especially poignant as I thought of the mobility of today’s population – including my own children. The landscape of their extended relationships looks much different than mine. I accept this for the way it is, however I am very grateful for the memory-gifts of my big family picture and for their personal godly example and encouragement.
Life (and perhaps death) will bring change for all of us between now and my next planned visit. But in this moment, I'm enriched for time spent together..."There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)