Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scattered Families

I watched a Sunday morning program; a family in India who all lived under one roof. Not out of necessity, but by choice. This appeared to be a more affluent family who pooled their earnings into one bank account. (Can you imagine?) One part of the family ran a coffee shop, another were contractors and builders, and a third (I think) ran a flour mill. In total there were over 20 family members, working together and living under one large roof. Taking care of one another.

I'm sure there were problems. And I'm not sure the women in this family experience the same freedoms as American women. But there was something comforting about this big family. The old were not cast out or made to feel like children. They were honored and loved. They were not burdens, or made to feel like flies shooed away from milk. No, on the contrary. The old grandfather was blind, but worked in the mill with a family member nearby to insure his safety.

It makes me wonder about American families. What have we become?

In my own family we are spread over many states. I have come to despise this fact. I wish to God in Heaven we all lived at least in the same state. We are missing so much of our grandchildren's lives. We've already missed years with our children. Regret doesn't even come close to describing how I feel about that. I am becoming more and more aware of my need to feel my family around me. I am obsessed with turning this around, because my question is ... are scattered families-- happy families?

In my perfect world, Mike and I would live around the corner from our parents. Our children would live no further than a 20 minute drive. Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews would all live an hour away or less. How wonderful would that be?

Oh for sure, there are families who live in the same town, and I'm positive they roll their eyes and say they have their share of problems because of it.

But please, allow me to say with great emphasis--count your blessings if that is you.

Michael and I receive a DVD every few months of our Arizona grandchildren. Watching them grow up this way only puts holes in our hearts. And although we are more than grateful to receive these precious DVDs, it dosent leave us with smiles on our faces when the TV is turned off. Quite the opposite really. Hours later I can still hear my grandson, his face large in the camera ... "Hi Papaw, hi Mamaw!" It simply breaks our hearts.

There's a new baby coming in August. And there is a new baby in Texas, born to my niece. I have little great nieces and nephews whom I barely know. These four, five, and six-year olds don't know me from a stranger on the street.

My own nieces and nephew--Lord, I'd give anything to be a small, small part of their lives. But, (sigh) I am not. They're busy. They stay in touch with my mother (their grandmother) and that's wonderful. My siblings, well, that's another story for another day. But I wonder if we all lived closer, would we be closer? I would like to think so.

My sister, Kathy, and I talk about this often.

Then there are extensions of family I know and love. Dear friends and folks who mean as much to me as a family member. Why is it only once a year we manage to connect? Are we that busy? Is money the motivating factor that makes us work day and night and never reach out to those we think about, but never see? Does it have to be that way?

I'm not old in the true sense of the word. Certainly. But I'm beginning to feel the shortness of life and how fleeting time really is. It scares and concerns me. My heart and personality has mellowed and softened, like the skin around my eyes and on my neck. Once hard and calloused, my youthful face and I plowed forward in life, doing and saying pretty much anything we wanted to do and say. The selfish part of me met with life's pitfalls and became instead--self-loathing. The oceans of fire I walked through and endured ... left many bad memories in its wake. But it did something to my heart and the way I look at life. Most assuredly.

When we are young, we are immortal. If we possess basic health, we do not see, think, or feel our immortality. It is not until we have gone through the fire and flood that we begin to realize there is an end to this life. How much of it is spent in quality time with those we love?

There's nothing more important than the love between a man and woman, their children, and the people dearest to them.

Not even money.

Will the circle be unbroken? For many of us, it already is.

Why can't we get along? Why can't we put aside petty differences and see our lives for what they really are? Short. Father along, will we really understand it all by and by?

The families in history, now dead and gone for decades, did they have something we no longer possess? There were no phones, no computers, no technology for communicating every day. Yet they were closer to each other than those of us who live with abilities they couldn't even wonder about. Think about this. My God, this fact just blows me away.

Some day, Michael and I hope to live closer to our children. Our grandchildren. Or at least see them more than twice a year. If we can accomplish that, we'll grow into old age with smiles on our faces. Most assuredly.

Blessings to you and yours.

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