Monday, April 05, 2010

And it Comes Back to Family . . .

I've lived close to my extended family my whole life--my grandparents moved to Alaska in the 1940s and I've got cousins, uncles, aunts, siblings, nieces and nephews spread out all over our fine city and as some of you may already know, when you have a blessing that is with you all the time it's very easy to take it for granted.

It's been that way with me and my family where I often forget how wonderful it is to have them around, to have them as good examples as I raise my children and to have people to be with on important occasions. But though I've forgotten this from time to time lately it's been brought home to me so strongly.

Andrew and I had planned our India trip a year ago but even though we had tickets I was worried about how it would all work out. How could I leave the kids for two weeks? Who on earth could I possibly impose on to take care of my children for so long? We pushed the trip back a few months and wondered how Andrew would be able to go and all the time I worried about what I'd do with my children.

Then my sister came along. Melanie had been to India already and had had such a wonderful trip that she came and told me she'd like to watch the kids so both Andrew and I could go too. She didn't act as if it was the chore that I knew it would be, she assured me that she wanted to do it and that she liked my children and that she was so excited for us to see what she'd seen that it wasn't a sacrifice at all. I tell you I felt relieved and then completely inadequate. It wasn't until that moment that I actually felt as if I could go and have a good time and her kindness and sincerity was so touching I had a hard time understanding how someone could be so nice. We never would have been able to go if it weren't for her and her selflessness.

Then there were my parents. From the time they left for India nearly three years ago they told us how much they wanted us to come visit but it was so easy to look at all the reasons why a trip like that would be impractical. We have responsibilities here at home, we don't have the money, we don't have the time--all sorts of excuses as to why it wouldn't work but all they said is "if you'll come to visit, we'll take care of everything and make sure you have a wonderful time."

We eventually cashed in our travel miles and came up with tickets but then all sorts of things sprang up to interfere but they didn't complain or get upset when it looked as if we wouldn't be coming after all. They patiently said they hoped we'd be able to come but they'd completely understand if it didn't work out. Then when things finally started to fall into place a month before we were to leave and we were sure we'd be coming you'd think we were doing them the biggest favor.

They took care of us and showed us a side of India that few people get to see. They knew where to go and what to do and helped us navigate some of the more difficult things about the country until we felt like royalty. They fed us and put us up and introduced us to sweet lime sodas and even took us to places in 100 degree heat that they'd seen a million times before. In short, they gave us the experience of a lifetime and all because they wanted us to come for a visit.

When we finally got home to Alaska late at night Andrew went to hang up our coats in the front closet but he stumbled back to me, delirious with jet lag, saying with all sorts of confusion, "Uh . . . the closet doors are back in place!"

You see not too long after remodeling our entry way a year ago and installing these ENORMOUS solid wood, eight-foot closet doors the fancy pivot joints that held them in place gave out and the doors fell off. It's a very long story as to why we couldn't get them fixed but we've had them stuck in the garage in storage for about eight months, figuring that we'd deal with getting them fixed whenever we could and it didn't seem as if it would be in the near future.

Apparently while we were gone Grandpa heard we were out of town and decided to sneak in and fix our doors for us. I haven't a clue how he did it because those doors are heavier than an elephant. I know, I've seen elephants. But somehow he rigged up a special hack to fix the pivot joints and he and Grandma and my uncle and aunt came over and hauled them out of storage and put them back in place. I tell you it was easier to haul stones for the pyramids of Egypt than it was to get those nasties out of the garage but they did it and we came home to find a Christmas miracle. It was strange to find myself getting all weepy over a set of dumb closet doors.

Then another sister planned a big Easter celebration all for us and made this spectacular brunch complete with an Easter egg hunt and fun for my kids and all just because she's that kind of a person who likes to do fun things for other people. It's like the thoughtfulness just wouldn't stop.

It's all gone to make me stop and think how grateful I am for family. That it's so easy to get frustrated with people when you know them so closely but that they're really what makes life wonderful and the kindness we do in our own families are what cement our relationships. The older my grandfather gets and the closer he gets to finishing his life the more emotional he gets about family until every time I go visit him he hugs me as if it's the last time he'll see me. It's helped me to appreciate that even though we may get our feelings hurt or our toes stepped on, that family is family and it's worth a lot of sacrifice to keep it strong. You may be able to walk away from friends or coworkers or old college buddies but family is special and it's the most important of all.

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19 comments:

Judi said...

Well said!

Loved all your posts from India - what an adventure you had and it sounds like all was well at home while you were away!

Peruby said...

I love my family!

cndymkr / jean said...

What a great tribute to your family. Sometimes I too forget how good mine is. Great post.

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

What a wonderful family!

Two of my sisters came in from out of state to surprise me for my birthday Friday. I miss my family already!

Tam said...

What a wonderful tribute to your family! I live in Anchorage & most of my family lives in the lower 48 so I totally understand what you're saying.

Glad you had a fabulous trip! Let me know when you're having another Alaska blogger get together & I'll come! Tam :)

Inkling said...

I haven't had time to comment in a while, but I always love spending time reading your posts. This one especially was great at helping me focus on what really matters at the end of the day. I am so glad you had a great time in India, and safe travels home. And I'm totally glad you have family nearby who really act like family. That is something very, very special. Do they want to adopt a short redhead? ;)

p.s. Thank you for posting such beautiful pictures of your time in India. Seeing the people's eyes made me want to go there and spend time getting to know them. And hearing your story of the healthcare made me giggle a little. As an American living in Canada and dealing with a silly health saga involving lots of waiting and plans to go to the States and spend thousands of dollars I don't have just to be healed, well, let's just say I was joking with my husband last night that we need to be flying to India tomorrow instead of St. Louis. That led to more jokes about how silly it is that our community here is full of folks from India, and why on earth would they leave such great health care to come to Canada?! (We are grateful for "free" healthcare, but are fully aware of what happens when anything serious happens and time and specialized physicians are of the essence.)

Anyway, I am glad my favorite Alaskan blogger is back.

Teresa Hirst said...

I'm glad you have such a great family. It reminds me that I do, too. Wonderful blessing to be able to take that trip of a lifetime with their help.

[Stacia] said...

What a sweet family you have! And what a great reminder of what truly is most important!
I grew up around all my family and took it for granted. When I moved up to Alaska, I learned to really appreciate them and our relationships haven't been the same since.
Thanks for the great post!

Kristen M. said...

Oh hey, I haven't commented in a while...I enjoyed your posts and pictures from India. Looks like you had an amazing time. Welcome home!

exotic1 said...

Your family sounds like they are wonderful people. So thoughtful and caring. You are blessed to have them~! I have been reading your adventure and you covered so much footage of your trip I feel like I was there with you. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. Welcome home~!

bigguysmama said...

So very cool. What a blessing. My family is about 2 days away from me. My mom doesn't have siblings and my brothers don't have kids yet. My in-laws live a couple hours away about 6 months out of the year the rest of the year they are seeing family or serving a 3 month committment with a Christian organization.

So very cool you do live so close to them.

~Mimi

Heart2Heart said...

MIchelle,

Family really is the most valuable thing on the face of the earth and means more than anything as you have clearly seen for yourself during your absence.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

Oh how I love this. My family lives far away from me, and I miss them like crazy every single day. I hope and pray that my girls will choose to settle down nearby, but if they don't, I'll be moving to wherever they are.

Nancy from Two Mountains said...

Beautifully said. :)

Linda said...

Michelle - next time you see your Grandparents, will you please give them both huge hugs from me? I think of them ALL THE TIME, and will be forever grateful for the memories that I have as a result of my association with your family.

Linda Stahr

Stephanie said...

So true! Thank you for that excellent reminder.

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

daysease said...

Wow, that is all so wonderful. So you had a gift of going to India... and the gift of special things from your family. Nice to feel special. I am glad that you had that. Seems to me it was a pretty amazing time, going and coming home... :-) hugs...

Amelia said...

I needed to hear this today. Proximity to family is why we left Florida and moved back to MI. I've loved every minute being closer to family and seeing my kids develop relationships with their great/ grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins. There have been hiccups, but I'm learning how to handle them, and this gave me the encouragement I needed that we're doing the right thing. Thank you! Your family sounds wonderful!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Your family sounds so much like mine, such a blessing!

Steph