When Relatives Don’t Relate

I’ve always wanted family – lots of family.

I grew up in a family with a mother, father and two younger brothers. I wasn’t that close to the boys growing up. They were always so different and were in trouble most of the time.

I was the “good girl” who tried to keep things on an even keel all the time. The worse the boys got, the better I got. I saw it as my job.

The youngest brother ended up on drugs and in prison. I didn’t see or hear from him for many years before he died.

My next younger brother does not contact me ever. If I call him, he is glad to talk and seems happy to hear from me. But he puts no effort into any relationship with me. It is all up to me and so there is no real relationship.

My mother died very early in my life – when I was 29 and she was very involved in our lives. She was the one that kept the family together.

My dad remarried within nine months of my mother’s death and so we didn’t have very long to mourn my mother. It affected how we felt about our stepmother – always.

Because my husband and family lived in another state and because of my dad’s new relation with a new wife, he and I began to drift apart and spend less time together. Our relationship fell apart.

I remember him telling me when he had called to tell me he wasn’t coming for Thanksgiving after all, “Everything we need is here.” Well, that hurt!! 

When my dad became ill, we patched things up and spent some good intimate time together. I was blessed to be present the last days with him and keep him comfortable with Hospice assistance.

My brother and I have made no such reconciliation.

I also have a son I haven’t seen in three years. We receive intermittent short curt emails from him that tell us nothing about where he is, how he is or who he is. He basically tells us he is alive three or four times a year but no more.

At this time, I’m not sure if he’s trying to be kind or trying to hurt us with his occasional words but no responses to our emails. I can’t be sure.

I have aunts, uncles, cousins I don’t know, don’t speak to and some I’m not sure where they are. This can’t be family! How do people have reunions with families as disconnected as ours? Well, they just don’t.

Our whole history just gets lost, that’s what! We lose all the stories, all the tales and remembrances, all the proud moments, all the silly acts. Everything is lost because no one is speaking to each other. No great things are happening because no one is getting together to do them.

Wisdom isn’t passed down from one generation to the next because youngers aren’t sitting on the elders’ knees and listening to the stories and the history being told.

But I now have a large family of six grandchildren that I received naturally and through adopting our niece as a daughter and her children as our grandchildren.

I have many close friends as sisters and brothers in my life, whom I love dearly. I have wonderful relationships with them.

I miss my two brothers very much. I miss the potential they had for being good brothers and never achieving that. I loved and lost two fine men in my life that never truly grew into real loving relatable men. What a loss!

I miss those years with my dad and I miss my son now. Lost time is lost time. It can never be brought back. It is gone forever. 

The loss is a pain. The only relief is time with family members. It’s just that simple.

When they don’t want what you want, you can’t spend your life begging for it. You find relief elsewhere. You find family wherever you can.

It may be with present family members. It may be with previous family members that wish a renewal. It may be with strangers with a common interest and need. It may be with children that need exactly what you have to give.

So when relatives don’t relate, find people who do relate and make them your relatives!!!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Well sweeties, I’m having a big birthday this week. I’m turning 75! Can you believe such a big number?!!

Never in my life did I ever imagine I would live to such a ripe age. I don’t feel 75, but that number – it is huge!

What is it about these large numbers that are so intimidating anyway?

When I think about my grandparents being in their 70’s – well they were ancient! In fact, some of them had already left this earth.

I remember them as being pretty physically unfit, sitting most of the time, somewhat forgetful but kind of funny and fairly cheerful. Now I’m still able to walk a lot, go camping, sew everyday and travel. I may sit more than I used to (at the sewing machine!) and may be a bit more forgetful, but I always get to my appointments and find my way home. I think I’m pretty funny at times and as far as cheerful, I’d say these are the best years ever!!

I’ve often been told I don’t look my age. I truly believe that’s a combination of genes, good skin care and inner joy. Some things I can control and some things I can’t.

I am determined to be the best matriarch of my family I can be. As the eldest female of an active growing family spread across several states, I have a job which I take very seriously. And am the only one who can do it. When I am gone, the next eldest female will take my place, but until then, it is me.

I must stay fit in body, mind and soul to do my job well. Gramps and I are the models and standards for the young ones. We have a lot of teaching and explaining to do in our lifetime.

There’s no slacking off allowed in grandparenthood. One is on duty at all times. And I love it that way.

I just had the chance to speak with all the grandchildren when they called to wish me Happy Birthday. What a wonderful time to catch up with al their activities, work, worries, goals, thoughts.

And I had all those grand chances to tell them how proud I am of them, how brave they are, what good choices they are making, how glad I am they are in my life and how much I love them – you know, all those things that Granny needs to say.

Isn’t it wonderful how my birthday becomes a time to shine a light on the grandkids? That makes it even more special for me! I love that!

The Supply List

My friend Kyle and I are going to a sewing class in Colorado this week for five days to learn to make a Crazy Quilt. It is a highly embellished type of quilt developed in the Victorian Era, when women had the time and the means to make quilts that had no practical purpose.

The quilts are made with many types of fancy fabrics that only the wealthy could afford at the time, and then are embroidered with all sorts of threads, beads, laces and ribbons. Again, only the well-to-do women would have had such resources.

Now, of course, we all have access to such “luxuries” as fine fabrics and embellishments. Kyle and I are proof of that!

For the five day seminar, we each received a one page supply list. Yes, it completely filled the entire 8 1/2″ long page of paper!

It begins with a sewing machine and ends with a color wheel (optional). In between are 26 listed items needed for this class. I’m not kidding!

Number three item was 20 fancy fabrics. Well, I chose pastel colors, which is completely out of my normal wheelhouse. Finding 20 pastel fabrics in my stash was pretty much impossible, let alone fancy fabrics.

So off to the fabric stores I went. This one item took me days to fill, and I ended up with about 40 fancy fabrics – because I want options when I have to make my final choices.

Number six on the list is ribbons. Again, this took days and I ended up bringing pretty much all the stash of ribbons I own. Options, options, options!

Number eight is lace, doilies, fancy handkerchiefs. What?!! I need to go get more containers for all my stuff!!! And containers for my containers!!!

By number nine and ten, we’re adding braids, trims, buttons, doodads, crystals, beads and pearls. Wait just a minute!!! All my containers are full and my containers have containers!!!

Did I mention there are 28 items on this supply list and we are not even halfway through it?!! Granted some of the remaining items are small, like needles and thread. But still, this supply list is enormous!!

I have packed my many fabrics, beads, ribbons, laces, handkerchiefs and trims quite nicely in special tubs and totes. I have all my sewing notions with my sewing machine and have added my apron and paint brushes for my anticipated lace dying class.

In fact, I have everything on my supply list except one, which is listed as “optional.” The instructor will demonstrate the use of the special needles and I have chosen to wait and see if I want to use them or not.

So, I am ready for my class. I have everything the supply list says I need and then some.

In fact, there are bare spots on my sewing room shelves, drawers are empty and my sewing machine is out of place. I look around and see all my lace cones are missing and most of the thread spools are gone. Can it be true?!!

I have packed 3/4 of my sewing room!!!

Why didn’t the supply list just say that in the first place?!!!!!

Am I Worthy?

Did you know that Memorial Day is for the remembrance of those who have lost their lives in service to the country? Those who have given all, so to speak. Veteran’s Day is for all who have served and Armed Forces Day is for all who are currently serving.

I know! I just recently learned the differences myself. It really caused me to pause and ponder the intensity of this day. (I almost can’t call it a holiday.)

I’m sure we all have someone in our family history that sacrificed their life in a conflict or war. We can all relate to that loss in some way.

Why would a person do that? Sacrifice their life? For country? Maybe. For the service? Doubtful. For duty? No. I believe people are willing to throw themselves into harm’s way for love. For love of family, freedom, the person standing next to them and God.

I think love is the strongest emotion there is and can make a person act in amazing ways, even overcome their basic will to live. It can give us superhero strength, kittenlike gentleness, rocket speed, rubber band agility, a giving heart and the ability to sacrifice, up to and including one’s life.

And so we wish those lives were not sacrificed in vain, that nothing comes of their ultimate gift. What does that love gift of theirs then require of us now? Is our only debt to them to remember a day? Have a BBQ? Go to the lake? Get a tan?

I ask myself – am I worthy of their sacrifice? What would my ancestors ask of me? What is the price of their gift?

I think all our sacrificial kin expect and hope is for us to live our best lives, every day. We need to practice and live out the freedoms they ensured. We need to be active positive citizens in a country they helped keep open. We need to be good models and mentors of the love they died for.

In answer to my own question – am I worthy? My answer is “no, I am never worthy enough. I can always do better, be better. They gave their lives-their all-the ultimate. Of course, I’m not worthy” and yet my answer is also “yes, I’m worthy. I’m the heir of my lost one’s gift. The reason for his sacrifice. I must use the gift to the best of my ability. The world and I will be better for it.”

We must be worthy to the task of carrying on the gift of sacrificial love and passing it on generation to generation.

Everyday, not just Memorial Day!!!!