Last weekend we enjoyed some small town living with the Greens. We meandered through the town square, let the dogs frolic at the reservoir, and played football in between cups of coffee.
It wasn’t with my mom and I miss her dearly… But in the losses are also glimpses of gratitude for what I have. And GG and Papa are some of the best kind of people around. Lots of conversation and the occasional fart joke. Good times. Good people. Smelly dogs. Full hearts.
I turned 29 last week. My parents still sing me happy birthday and my remaining grandparents send me birthday cards that always magically arrive on my birthday.
Singing the birthday song is one of those traditions that I will think of when I turn 79 and am recounting the years gone by. It is just a song, 30 seconds on the phone, but then again it stands for so much more – love, caring, remembering, goofiness, tradition, and family. Families change, all of them, in one way or another. But no matter the changes that have come about in my family, there are always those formative years when I was younger that stick out in my mind.
I recently found this picture of my family. Its us at a time my memory is just beginning to stick with me. I recall these days of poofy hair, big glasses, and togetherness. But no matter the changes that have come about in the years since this picture (children, moving, job and life changes, divorce, remarrying, more kids, more life changes…) I still feel connected to these people. My family. My roots. They’re not always my favorite people, but they’re my family. Countless books and movies have been written and made on family – the importance and strength of it – realizing what you’ve got and cherishing it. I can depend on my family for absolutely anything and I can definitely count on them for a birthday song or two.
This singing ritual shows that my family is thinking of me, no matter the miles between us or how recently we saw each other last. It makes me feel loved and special, makes me realize what I’ve got and aim to cherish it. Even if it’s only a small card in the mail or a 30 second phone call, it stays with me much, much longer than that.
Every family has its traditions. I have married into a family with a “farm”. As I got to know the Greens, I heard stories about their grandparents’ farm with its pond and cows. I had visions of hay bales, large red barns, and old wooden fences to keep animals of all sorts where they belong. But that vision wasn’t quite right.
The farm is land. Plain. Simple. Humble land. As I have continued to come to the farm more and more each year, I have come to know why they are so fond of it. It grows on you. It becomes a part of you. And the thought of it instantly brings a sort of calming presence to your day – knowing that you will soon be there and can ignore cell phones, computers, and just immerse yourself into nature and family.
We all congregated at the farm on Sunday for a good Labor Day weekend camp out. The first thing James did was fall flat on his face to brand his nose with an old fashioned “strawberry” from the farm. He then played trucks with his cousin in the dirt and grass. Miles joined the uncles at the pond to paddle boat and fish and then began his Call of Duty play by play with the BB gun.
The farm comes equipped with a camper, two porch swings, picnic tables, a tire swing, and a canoe and paddle boat at the pond. But if there’s one thing the boys will remember about the farm, it is the tractor. Whether it is going anywhere or not, this mammoth machine seems to be a magnet for children and adults alike. We camped in our tent in what I considered to be a perfect, slightly chilly camping night. The stars shone brightly and we fell asleep listening to the fire crackle and coyotes howl in the distance.
As I was laying in bed last night, I thought of all the wonderful parts of my long weekend. I went to a wedding on Friday with a group of friends, spent Sunday afternoon at my family’s lunch gathering, and ended it with camping. I felt wonderfully blessed to have such a large, caring group of people – family and friends – to spend time with. No matter where I was this weekend, I was with people I love and who love me.
Its usually the little things we remember about people.
I remember rocks – specifically bolo ties and rock clocks. And of course the camper/trailer in the driveway that we grand-kids used as a toy and my grandpa used when he took the family on rock hunting adventures.
I also remember walking to my great-grandparents’ house after 1/2 days of school for lunch. We would read the daily devotional out loud, eat together, and watch the birds at their bird feeder. After lunch we would either help ourselves to to the toys in their hall closet (usually Bibleopoly or the infamous, very loud marble game) or we would wander back to the rock shop to peruse the new gems and watch my grandpa work or organize his merchandise.
He was always kind to us grandchildren. I remember his smile and I remember it vividly when he held my first son at Christmas and when he hugged me at my wedding. He had the kind of smile that made his eyes squint.
A while back there was a garage sale at my grandparents’ old house. I grabbed a few trinkets that had sentimental value or that I figured the boys would enjoy. One of these was a hat.
Apparently my grandpa had a small enough head that it fit my children perfectly. Miles often enjoyed this hat for dress-up days or goofing off days here at the house, usually paired with the bolo tie.
Now James has discovered this hat and he wore it practically all day yesterday. My grandpa did not get to meet James, but there are little moments throughout time that make me think of my grandpa and how much he would enjoy being with my children.
I can’t help but picture him smiling at the thought of his great-grandchildren getting so much joy out of his hat.