By Maddy Olson
I don’t know about everyone else, but 2012 has been a pretty rough year.
But here’s the thing: I feel like the higher powers are trying to teach me some lessons. Why? Because I have become complacent with my family…taking them very for granted and allowing life to pass us by. He knows I am full of love for them, but in the routine we get into, I don’t always make special time to build relationships.
My husband and I have a whole clan. I’m serious. I have four sons, he has four sons and a daughter. Since we have been married, we have acquired two daughter-in-laws, a son-in-law, and have a baby girl on the way. Recently, we lost a little grandson. I told you we were an enormous family!
Snap out of the normal goings on of your life and wake up to the vibrancy and love that encompasses you.
In January, we went to visit my husband’s grandfather who suffered horribly from Alzheimer’s Disease and Epilepsy. As we sat there, my husband, the kids, and I, we snapped photos of the time we spent with him. Guilty of not going to see him in that state, we all listened to his stories of being in the military and then his accounting job and then his family. He kept asking if we could see the smoke around his feet and he would wave it away. We didn’t play along very well and he sat there quiet a moment before he asked my husband, “Who are you?” I could see the tears pricking at my husband’s eyes and he just replied, “I’m your grandson, Grandpa.”
I look back on those pictures from that day and can still feel the emotion between us all.
I realized that all those family gatherings we attended were just not enough. We rarely visited him when he was well…life was so hectic, you know? I desperately missed the days when I would walk into the room and Grandpa would stand up and sneak the first hug. I would say, “How’s my handsome fella?” and he would reply, “Old, but being hugged by a beautiful lady!” There was so much more we could have done, so many more memories we could have stored.
He died a few weeks after that visit at the nursing home.
In July, we lost our home.
We found another rental that would work as it would be a roof over all of our heads. As we packed up our belongings and made the trips from house to house, I thought of the years we spent there. All of the birthdays, the days we brought our puppies home from the pound, the Christmas mornings spent as a family and appreciating the efforts spent to make it a wonderful day. I thought about the joy I felt so long ago when we walked in and knew…this was home.
This happened and I had to stop and take a deep breath. I needed to be grateful we had a roof over our heads. We were a family no matter where we lived. There would still be birthday celebrations, Christmas mornings, and playful banter with the puppies.
Since we have been in our home, we spend more time together. We eat together.
I feel we have grown closer as a family unit. I’m sure that was the goal. It may not be our dream home, but it has become home for us.
As we moved into our current home, one of my sons exploded with anger at my husband. Blending a family is difficult at best, but you get those two together and it is a ticking time bomb. He went to live with his dad and that destroyed me. I never could imagine not having my kids close to me.
In the months since, my son has worked through much of his anger issues and comes around again. He has pulled out of the mean spirited child and is the loving son I missed so much, again. I feel closer to him now than I ever really did. Although it was a dark time in my life, I am all the more blessed with a better relationship with my son.
My husband’s second oldest and newlywed son came to live with us until they could afford their own home. I was excited to have another girl around! Having no daughters of my own, I have greatly enjoyed the ones I have accumulated through marriage. They moved in and a month later, they moved out. Too much going on after they were used to being alone. But in that time, we learned of our first grandchild. I was so happy to be the mother figure to help out and I went out buying diapers and little things. The last week of November, they gave me a photo from their 3D ultrasound. Three weeks later, that sweet little baby decided to be born much too early and he passed away.
That single event made me really think these last days.
What was that purpose? He was an innocent and healthy baby. His parents were so excited to have him. Where was the fairness in all of that?
These developments have become like cement or glue that has pieced much of our family back together. It has filled in many fractures and filled out hearts with love and appreciation for each other. Often death brings out feelings of guilt and regret. We just crave to bask in each other’s company. Feelings of love for my children have overflowed my heart and I find that I hug them all just a little bit tighter and for a little bit longer. I tell them how much they mean to me and why. I let them know more often that I am proud of them and that I am glad they are my kids.
This year has been full to brimming with eye opening moments for us.
We struggle like most people do but we find more of the life in living, less automation. I know that I will appreciate Christmas more. It is almost like a breath of fresh air in comparison. I know that birthdays will hold a whole new meaning as they roll around as we will remember the child who will never have one. We will treasure the marriages more because it isn’t about the circumstances, it is about welcoming a new member into our growing family.
Think about your life. To appreciate those events and milestones that enrich life and embrace them as the ingredients to your recipe. Spend more time hugging and talking together. Invent things to do as a family unit. Life is so fragile, so precious…you never know when your eyes will be forced open.
About the author: Maddy Olson blogs on a variety of subjects that are deep topics and can change lives. Writing for the boys’ birthday party supplier Party Pail is a very rewarding passion she enjoys. Having four sons of her own has prompted her write about the parties she has planned and hosted.