Sunday, April 5, 2009

Memories Do Last a Lifetime

Today we spent the day with family to honor a family member who passed away a year ago. I was unsure how we would spend our time together, but very motivated to get together with others to celebrate this occasion. As I often do before a family gathering, I got myself extra busy before leaving for the 1/2 hour drive. I notice that I tend to busy myself in the effort to move away from the anxiety that often comes from anticipating family gatherings. It's not that I do not look forward to these events, I do, and I typically enjoy them once we get going. But my mind seems to go on auto pilot, "Will the boys misbehave?" "Will we get into uncomfortable discussions?" "Will I say something I shouldn't?" Worry worry worry. And when I get ultra busy, I suppose I feel a little less conscious anxiety and more overwhelmed from all I am trying to accomplish before we leave. Ridiculous, I know.
Today was no different, having the need to go to the Asian grocery to find an obscure ingredient that I needed for a raw dish I was trying to make, and to get some fish to bring along. I love that store, but my time crunch this morning made it harder for me to enjoy the trip over there. Then I had to take my youngest son shopping for something he had saved up for and just HAD to have today. And then, being that the Asian store did not have what I needed, I had to traipse over to our favorite health foods store (after calling to be sure I wasn't wasting a trip) which was in the same town that we were traveling to.
Once we were on our way, I was fine. And I began thinking about this family member who passed last year. He taught me so much over the course of 15 years that I knew him. Our relationship was not always joyful, but there was a mutual respect that I will carry with me forever.
When we were all gathered around a beautiful feast, complete with gluten free offerings, thanks to my mother in law, we each spoke out about this family member: our memories, funny stories, things we want to remember, things from a very long time ago, and things from just before he died. Everyone contributed - even my boys who scrunched up their noses when the idea for sharing was announced. But they had ideas in their heads already - they too were touched gently by this family member, and wanted to share. It was a wonderful and touching display of love and tenderness that I had not experienced from our family before. I commented on how this death has brought us all closer, and I think our dear departed member would think kindly of that - that he had brought us all closer in the end, to carry on, sadly, without him, but carry on to bring peace to each other and demonstrate that devotion to the younger generation in our family.

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