Friday, August 03, 2018

Changing Families; Changing Times

It's been almost six months since my brother died, and yesterday it seemed like he was alive in everyone's minds and hearts. Our awareness of him was likely due to the summer heat and the many memories we have of him enjoying the beaches and surf on Cape Cod. He liked to fish, ride the waves, swim, explore, set up camp, and spend long hours up and down the outer cape shore.

His closest family members including his children are busy with sorting his things and making decisions about the possessions he left behind and rethinking and living their lives without him.

I find myself unconsciously including him on invite lists as we prepare for our family summer celebrations and looking back at his Facebook page or family photos with a bit of a sting now and then.

Families change, and as you grow older, you are more aware of those changes. My summer lunches with my mom have made that clearer to me. In her life, there are as many close family members who have passed as who are alive. There was a time when she would go out in her hometown and see people she knew at every corner, but now there are more memories of times past than people she knows. Our lunches are filled with stories of the past, stories that capture her free spirited, happy youth as well as her rambunctious and fun loving nature.

She told me about the way her dad, a postman, would pick up her grandfather at lunch and bring him to a local park to sew his clothes and spend some time outdoors. She would drop by the park after school and help him thread his needles. She points out where her aunt lived, the places she worked, where she met my dad while playing cards with her sorority, and the walks she took with her younger brother, sister, and cousins to swim at the pond or go to a movie. Someday soon I want to take her on a photo tour where we'll capture all these places in pictures--we'll make a book, and share that book with others, a book of times gone by and a book that captures our family's spirit and history.

Our small, intimate families change as I've written about before and our big, extended families change too. Soon we'll celebrate another milestone birthday for my mom--a number of family members close and extended will join us. We'll likely tell stories, share good food, and make my mom's beautiful blue Irish eyes light up.

I want to regard these days well. I want to think about what's important to my close and extended family at this time, and I want to build a loving home and lifestyle for the next generations too. Changing family, changing times are at the forefront of my thoughts on this very humid, but bright, summer day.