Despite all of my best efforts, the year has ended and a new one has arrived. And, despite all of my best efforts, I think I’m farther behind than I’ve ever been. It reminds me of a coffee mug I have that says, “God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I’m so far behind I will never die . . .” (Maybe I need that one at work instead of my Gumby mug.) The holidays, as much as I enjoy them, tend to eat my working time . . . and my sleeping time . . . but, unfortunately, not my eating time. That seems to multiply.
So today, on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, I’m trying to settle back into my work groove and at least file/toss enough paper that I don’t need a catalog in my chair to be able to work on my desk. Part of my rut involves going through the day’s mail, sorting and handing off or throwing in File 13, whichever is appropriate. But today there was a rather unusual piece, an envelope that was obviously a card of some sort, but thick, as though it held more than was intended originally. It was addressed to my husband and me, and to my brother and sister-in-law, and came from Milan, Michigan. When I opened it I found a beautiful Christmas card—and a memorial folder from my first cousin’s funeral service that had taken place on November 9th. Accompanying the card and folder was a heart-warming thank you note . . . and several pictures of my mother with her sisters and of our family at the Rogers reunion that took place a lifetime ago.
You may not understand why I’m sharing all of this, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll attempt to explain. My mother was the youngest of four girls, and the only child of my Rogers grandparents. My grandfather, who died before I was born, had been married previously but was widowed while his three girls were still at home. He married my grandmother and brought my mother into this world.
Fast forward several years. One sister, my Aunt Lorraine, died of cancer at an early age. Another sister, my Aunt Christine, and her husband took in Lorraine’s girls, making a home for them along with her own children in Michigan. The third sister, my Aunt Dean, lived in Kentucky. And my mother eventually came to rest in Savannah, Tennessee by way of multiple towns since my grandfather worked for TVA during the dam building years. We saw our Kentucky kin far more than we did the Michigan folks, simply because they were closer, but every once in a while, we’d all gather and visit. Now all of my mother’s generation is gone and several of mine took an early leave from life. Terri Gail was the most recent.
My brother and I did what we could to help; hence the Christmas card and thank you note. The pictures, however, were an unexpected blessing. And I know I’m tired from too much Christmas and New Year’s celebrating (which was a party at the house, attended by our three grandkids), not to mention life in general being thrown in for good measure, but I stood in bookkeeping, holding that card and looking at those pictures, and my nose turned red and my face made every face imaginable, just trying to keep the tears at bay.
To make a long story short (a feat you’re probably thinking isn’t possible at this point), despite the fact that I rarely ever hear from this side of my family, they are still my family. They are still my first and second cousins, the children of half-sisters that my mother loved beyond measure. Despite the time and the distance, we still know we can count on each other and we still share life’s joys . . . and sorrows. And that brings me to my actual destination in this journey of words.
It’s a brand new year, all bright and shiny and full of promise and opportunity. My hope for you as we begin this I-blinked-and-there-it-was year is that you will make time for the people you call family. Reach out and renew relationships, set aside moments when you can reconnect or strengthen the ties that already bind. If those relationships are strained or non-existent, work hard to repair them before that opportunity disappears forever. Friends are wonderful and should never be taken for granted, but family . . . family should mean home. And home is where your heart should be.