For most of my life, the only family I saw regularly were my parents, and if I was lucky, one of my sisters and my brother (but then only once a year at most). Living in a different country on a different continent and not having a millionaire in the family tends to have this effect. When you’re used to it, you don’t think about it. You don’t wonder if there are people like you who you have crazy things in common with, like the way you laugh or your thirst for adventure (and mischief).
This whole week, two of my aunts stayed with us, and I had a week break so I was able to come home. I haven’t seen the one for about five years, and I don’t even remember the last time I saw the other, but I think I was eight. After spending all this time with my mom and her sisters, I have come to two realizations: family actually IS one of the most important things in the world…and I am entirely too inhibited.
If my computer was working properly I could post pictures; of them playing dress up (in their fifties and sixties), of them laughing so hard they cried, of them standing on the beach in the Cape winter because they wanted to feel the wind “wave them to their dreams.” They got into trouble in an antique store for playing dress up with the wigs and clothes, then they got into trouble for posing with a Marylin Monroe mannequin and fanning out her dress. They planned two or three businesses and talked about all the crazy business stuff their dad did, which often worked to everyone’s shock and sometimes didn’t. But most of all, they have LAUGHED, and they’ve talked about their dreams.
These are just the major things…so many little things have happened that have made me go, “Wait, so THAT’S where I come from.” Things like never wanting to go to the doctor because (in a polite paraphrase of what my grandpa said) doctors are morons. We bend with the wind so we don’t break; we make the best of what we have; we work hard; we don’t give up; we’re stubborn as hell. I say “we” not because I’ve had a particularly hard life, but because they have, and they’re standing tall, and I have the same blood in my veins. My grandpa made and lost quite a few fortunes, but he stood tall until the day he died (he died with a body filled with cancer, but a few days beforehand he was still talking about all the plans he had). I can write these things down, but they’re difficult to describe. They must sound disconnected, but they’re all one and the same; in my family, I have discovered a strong spirit that doesn’t break even when all the world seems to want it to. It helps to know that it’s in my blood. It helps to know that I have a family, a connection somewhere, some frame of reference. Other people from whom I came have gone before me and conquered untold enemies (literally and figuratively).
And talk about great men and women of God. Not the pansy kind; the real, true Christ followers. This is the legacy standing behind both of my parents, behind me. A strong, fighting spirit. A determined spirit. A God-loving spirit.
And an adventurous, sometimes reckless spirit on top of it all. Even after just a week with these incredible ladies (one of whom I have the pleasure to call my mommy) I find myself looking at my life through different eyes. All families have flaws, and mine is absolutely not perfect, but God made families, and he put people in certain families for a reason. The people before me have passed a torch, both spiritual and literal. I’m taking it.