And it hit me this morning, after a long conversation with my brother last night. I have always wanted to be part of a Father-Knows-Best, Waltons-on-the-mountain kind of family, but we all know those families are mostly screenwriters imaginings. Real families have warts, sometimes more warts than beauty marks. Mine is one of those, and my brother and I were discussing all the warts and cancers (literal and figurative) in our large family. You see, he has tried all his life to remain neutral in family squabbles because, let's face it, no one normal really enjoys angry confrontation. But in his attempt to remain neutral, he missed out on all the good stuff. Yep, he stayed out of the fight between Brother #1, myself and Brother #3. He stayed out of the fight to the extent that he wouldn't talk to any of us about subjects outside of the weather and how our kids were doing--he didn't want any details at all. And he missed our kids' graduations, Eagle Scout celebrations, the celebration of the last cancer treatments of a SIL and myself, the going away party for our son, the details of our sons' treks up Machu Picchu, a nieces long haul to graduation and certification, the wonderful details of Brothers #2 and #3 lives (he was at their funerals but he totally missed being part of their lives). In short, by trying to pretend there were no bad parts of our family, he missed all the good parts.
I realized over coffee this morning (isn't caffeine wonderful?) that although I haven't lived the ideal life I wanted, with 4 kids, a picket fence and worshipful husband and no family confrontations or squabbles, I HAVE had:
- 2 kids who challenge me and puzzle me and make me laugh and do silly things.
- a husband who screws up on a semi-regular basis but worships me (while I am of course perfect and never screw up)
- a beautiful 103-year old house that I adore
- a nice patch of garden where I can get my hands dirty, work hard and enjoy the magic of eating something that was a seed in my hand last year
- a yard full of wildlife that I love to watch (now that I've fenced and electrified everything that I don't want them to eat)
- the wherewithal to buy food, good food, for ourselves and the wildlife and to share the garden overage with ...
- good neighbors who watch out for each other and notice when ambulances are summoned or children are walking the new puppy
Have a wonder holiday, whichever one you celebrate, and enjoy the fact that after today the light is coming back to our lives.