Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

A Big Family Life Lesson

Mrs. Dadmanly wanted to share a recent life experience, relating to her having a very large extended family. The following is a post I thought others might appreciate.

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In the past two months, two of my Aunts on my Mom’s side have died.  I am very grateful for memories, because as more and more of my family is no longer with us, memories are all that is left to hang onto. (Along with a few forks and spoons that I kept from Babci’s house, my polish Gramma, that every time I use them to eat or cook with, I feel like she is right there with me.)

I’ve explained it lately to others that we are a “Blessed Family” to have had so many wonderful Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, but it is also a mixed blessing because it is extremely painful as they are not with us anymore (especially my sister and cousin). All the holidays, summers at Cape Cod, laughter, pictures, cards kept, a few knick knacks… memories are what is left. I need to thank my Mom and Dad for keeping us all connected as we were growing up.

I went to my Aunt’s Wake this past Sunday evening. How strange it was that my Aunt was lying there and we were all talking and chatting and laughing and sharing our memories, and knowing that if she was alive she would be one that would be laughing right along with us.

I remember many years ago on Easter Sunday at Babci’s, my Aunt was laughing so hard that her belt popped right off (remember those stretchy belts in the 70’s).  It let loose and went flying and I can still hear that funny noise it made echoing in my ears, lol.  That is one of so many memories and that is only one of my Aunt’s.

Eight Aunts and Uncles on Moms side and Six Aunts and Uncles on Dads side, WOW!  So all this brings me to why I’m writing this today.

Last night my sisters invited me to join them in visiting my Aunt (on my Dad’s side) at the County Nursing Home.  I have not seen her in a few years, sheepishly I say that, always too busy, until a funeral when we “make time” to go. I told them I would meet them there and I have to say now that when I said that I truly did not know if I would or not.  Is there such a thing as a ½ lie?

Part of me was thinking how nice it would be and a larger part was saying, I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS.  I do not want to go to the nursing home, everyone is sick, dying, life less, it’s not the same to see them like this, it makes me uncomfortable, what will she be like, what will she look like, how can I get out of this!

Even yesterday, up until an hour before we were to go I said to my husband, I don’t want to go, I just don’t want to go.  We have too much to do when we get home, Little Manly will get to bed too late, etc. etc.

We went.  Everything timed out.  We picked up our son, ate dinner, arrived with time to spare, even got lost, but kept going.  I was anxious, uncomfortable, and wanted it over.

As I entered the nursing home, I prayed for God to remove any and all of my “issues,” you know having it be “all about me.” As we approached her room I could hear laughter, was that her?  There sat my Aunt on her bed, and my two sisters next to her.

I was toting a 2 lb. box of candy (isn’t that what you bring someone that is in a nursing home?)  She hugged us and kissed us, she was SO happy to see us, and the candy.  She has trouble speaking, she gets nervous, excited and then cannot talk.  It did not matter.

Little Manly sang her a song, we talked about memories, and we laughed and we laughed. Why did I wait so long?  I got to experience again the love of my family, the times we would all be together.  Our lives are so short.  We wait and then we regret.  We are too busy.  Things that are not that important become more important than relationships, and what is life about if not for people.

I left the nursing home with peace, joy, and a smile on my face. Someday could that be me?  Someday will be here eventually, will I have more regrets, or peace?

Some words of wisdom:  Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because tomorrow never seems to come.”  “The things of this world will pass away,” will I be left with the blessing of memories, or the pain of regret? Thanks for letting me be a part of YOUR day.

A Sister’s Postscript:

This I know to be true, as I fall into one of these categories. Elderly people, people with illnesses, teenagers and single people just don't receive enough physical touch.  So when you encounter any of these folks, whether it be friends or family, make it a point to physically touch them.  And, don't forget to make it "real," whether it be a hand-hold, kiss, or hug.  We really don't know how long we will have each other in this life; and the present is so "precious."

A Dadmanly Postscript:

I am forever grateful that God arranged for a soul-mate, who brought with her an extended family of over 100 souls. My extended family can be numbered on my hands (no need for feet).

Sure, they can drive any of us crazy at one time or another, but this mass of humanity, who thinks I am important if only because I am part of their family, taught me as well, that each one of them is important, too. Because there is no better classroom for the human heart to learn that each of us, warts and all, are a unique gift from God.

It is sad, that the bigger the family, the more grief we are certain to experience. But I also know that, for each moment of grief, there are a dozen more of laughter, excitement, love and enthusiasm. More of everything, but grief too. But how much less grief, than those poor unfortunates, for whom there are no great big globs of family there, to lift their arms in a great big hug of welcome home.




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