I grew up wishing I had a perfect family, like I thought everyone else had. TV fare was "Ozzie and Harriet," "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father's Knows Best," with wise, confident, available fathers, smiling, kind available mothers and pesky brothers and sisters who always did the right thing under pressure. My home felt far from normal, and it comforted me to dream that someday things would be better.
Forty years later, my home life feels miraculous in its stability and warmth. Normal? I guess, whatever that might be. Perfect? Don't make me laugh. Part of the difference is a loving, thoughtful husband, and our commitment to each other. But part of the difference is my maturing past childlike expectations of perfection in others. Turns out I was correct.....my family was not perfect. Dad worked too much; Mom had emotional problems; intimacy was a foreign concept in our home. No warm hugs and freshly baked cookies after school. But they fed, educated and clothed us...took us to church every week...supported our passions and talents...sent us to college. They held together a marriage that I now know was struggling for survival. I am grateful to them.
Andrea and I returned last night from almost a week in Colorado visiting my ailing 80-something parents (now married 56 years), and attending a wedding with the usual cast of family characters. Ron couldn't escape work to attend, but we were blessed to be joined by my oldest daughter and her delightful husband. He's tops in my book, but that's another blog.
They were all there for the festivities...my successful but never-home brother (40 flights this year, and it's only July. Hmm...wonder where he got the habit of neglecting his family?). His former wife of more than 20 years (I miss her so). His new younger, prettier wife. My emotionally distant sister and her outspoken, loony husband of 26 years. Two bright university-student nephews with extreme aversions to catching wedding garters. My young niece, the bride, and her smitten groom. The groom's family, including his father, a Lutheran Church business manager who disapproves of my professional musician brother, the father of the bride. My ex sister-in-law's parents. Her boyfriend and his relatives, who segregated into their own corner. Assorted strangers and forgotten faces.
I hadn't seen many for quite a few years.....since I'd completed months of overdue Christian-flavored counseling 3 years ago to understand my life, my relationships and reactions. I saw my extended family through new eyes of appreciation. I love them...they're my history and I am theirs. I was able to enjoy them...to listen to them....to comfortably show care for them. We laughed together, and caught up on our lives. We reminisced.
It was a magic time. A healing time. (My parents and sister spoke for the first time in 6 years.) I hope we don't wait years to gather again as a family. It was wonderful, but.....
Thank God we don't live next door to these people. :)