My family have always lived quite a distance from each other. From Georgia to California, Wisconsin to Texas…we have spanned the states for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was the anchor for the family. She lived with her oldest son, my dad, here in Texas for many years. Her daughter lived in the Atlanta area and her youngest son lived in Irvine, California.
She would jet off to see her other children several times throughout the year. She was always a proper lady. She prepared for her trips by giving herself a fresh permanent and would done her Sunday best for her travels. She carried matching avocado green luggage and would insist on arriving hours before her flight. These were pre-cell phone days too…so there was no texting anyone that she arrived or had a delay. She simply relied on them to be there and to find her every time. Her last flight was one month before she passed away at the age of 89. She was a spunky lady. But more importantly, she always put her family first and made every effort to be there for them.
When she passed away in 2003, our link to the extended family disappeared. Her absence made it very clear how much she kept everyone connected. Over the years, though, we have all found our own ways of keeping up with each other. Thank goodness for social media!!!
Six years ago, one of my California cousins moved to Texas to go to college. Since she was only an hour and a half away, we found ourselves texting and spending time together. I have LOVED having her close! We have kept each other abreast of all the family gossip and happenings, talked endlessly about our similar professions, and shared stories about our grandma. It’s the kind of connection to my extended family that I always craved.
I was thrilled when her parents and younger sister decided to follow her to Texas, making it their home in 2017. I adore that my son knows them well and loves spending time with them. They dote on him like grandparents which is something I cherish. I do believe my grandma is smiling down on us every time we are together…she would be so happy that her children and grandchildren are connected.
So three weeks ago when my aunt and uncle from Georgia came to Texas for a visit, we all congregated in Waco for a reunion. We easily fell right back into conversation, laughing at stories about our crazy dogs, reminiscing about their childhood, and sharing the woes of health concerns that arise with aging. The day flew by and left me longing for more time together.
At the end of the day, we gathered together for the obligatory picture. We laughed at how my grandma never liked to have her picture taken and how that angst continued in my aunt. We chuckled at how time had changed everyone’s appearance. But in all the razzing, you could see that the bond between the siblings ran deep. They held onto their goodbyes that afternoon, stopping and starting several times on the way to the car, savoring every last minute together.
I am ever-hopeful that having the majority of my extended family now in Texas will lead to more time together. It’s just good for the soul.
“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”