#family

WHERE THE FIRE MEETS THE MOON

 

 

Sitting around a campfire recently I quickly became attuned…to the beauty of the nature surrounding me…to the trees…the stars…the moon.

 

The fire was truly fascinating…as I felt its warmth and watched its flames I realized with every one I’ve ever sat beside how no two fires are the same.

 

As I watched the flames of this fire grow higher, reaching to the sky…every now and then a flame would break away and, on its own, would fly…

 

I’d watch it slowly float up…up…up into the night…until it flew so high it faded from my sight.

 

And, as my eyes turned upward, my attention was quickly seized by the moon as she floated in the sky…smiling through the trees.

 

It was one of those moment is life…watching the fire…listening to the voices of family and friends…that I wished would last forever…

that I hoped would never end.

 

And when the flames had breathed their last…I smiled hoping the next campfire would come soon…giving me another chance to sit with family and friends…where the fire meets the moon.

 

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CLOSER THAN HE THINKS

 

 

He never felt that close to his parents…never thought of their relationship as perfection…he knew his parents loved him…but they were stingy with their affection.

 

That was who they were…he never thought of it as right or wrong…he imagines, now, they thought it was the best way to raise their child to be strong.

 

He remembers his mom being drawn to the Native American way of life…how they live and pray and think…he remembers how his dad loved to read…and draw pictures in pen and ink. 

 

He remembers a distance between them…though there was love within his heart …because of the way they raised him…as he grew up…they grew apart.

 

Occasionally he’d call them…saying how they need to get together…hanging up knowing he had lied….it was a conversation he repeated often…until the day his parents died.

 

In the many years since they passed…he didn’t think about them often…but slowly…imperceptibly…his hard feelings began to soften.

 

He reads quite a bit, himself, now…he finds books about Native Americans beguiling…and he feels, as he turns the pages, somewhere…his mom is smiling.

 

And he imagines Sigmund Freud would have a theory that would delight, enchant…enthrall…if he saw his dad’s old pen and ink drawing…now hanging on his wall.

 

Yes, he never though he was that close to his parents but…

when he reads about Native Americans 

or passes that old portrait in pen and ink…

He wonders…after all these years…

if they weren’t a little closer than he thinks.

 
 
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SHE KNEW

 

 

The daughter suspected there was something wrong…she found it most upsetting…when she began to notice all the little things her mother was forgetting.

 

And the more she saw her mother falter…her misplaced keys…her lost glasses…her forgotten shoes…The more confusion she saw on her mother’s  face…the more and more she knew…

 

It made her want to throw something…to stomp her feet…to shout…

It was as if a hole had opened in her mother’s mind…and her memories were leaking out.

 

As she witnessed her mother’s increasing puzzlement…saw more memories fade into a blur…she secretly hoped her mom would never realize exactly what was happening to her.

 

Until the day she found her mother surrounded by old photos…old family albums too…the day she saw tears streaming down her mothers face…is they day she knew…she knew.

 

It took a moment for her mom to recognize her…both faces showing their strain…for how does a face reveal its love while trying to conceal its pain?

 

“So, Momma. What are you doing?” She asked…her worst fears playing out…Surrounded by all these albums…with these old photos strewn about?”

 

“I don’t quite understand.” Her mom cried. “It’s all just so bizarre…but when I look at some of the people in these photos…I can’t remember who they are.”

 

And so the daughter sat down with her mother…hoping for one more moment the inevitable to defer…and as they picked up and held each picture…she helped her remember who they were.

 

Despite doing everything in her power, however, everything she could think to do…the hole in her mother’s mind grew larger…and eventually…all of her memories fell through.

 

“Do you think Nana knew how much we loved her?” Her own daughter asked the day of her funeral…tears falling from her eyes of blue.

“Love is a feeling…not a memory.” She said hugging her daughter close…

And although Nana might not have shown it…

“She knew…

I’m sure she knew.”

 
 
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AN OLD CAST IRON PAN

 

 

I imagine when you first see it…all you see an old cast-iron pan…you don’t see where it’s been…you only notice the outside…not the history within.

 

But every time we use it…we handle it affectionately…because when we pick up this old cast-iron pan…that…is exactly what we see.

 

Some of this pan’s history we know…the rest we must infer…it was Debrah’s grandmother’s…passed down to her mother…then passed on down to her.

 

Now take another look at it…imagine, if you can, three generations of meals…cooked inside this pan.

 

Think of all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners served up lovingly…think of what this old cast-iron pan has meant to our family.

 

I wonder if that’s what makes anything cooked in this pan taste so good…as we think about how long ago it was cast…as the flavors we are tasting today blend with all those flavors from the past.

 

I suppose that’s why we get a little sentimental…why we use this pan so reverentially…knowing its age and history is what makes it special…knowing it’s a lot like Deborah and me.

 

And hoping how the three of us…Deborah, me and this old cast-iron pan…with a little bit of care and a lot of love…will keep cooking as long as we can.

 

We only hope there is at least one item in your house filled with memories…filled with its own history…an item like our old cast-iron pan…that’s part of your family.

 
 
 
 
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LIFELONG LOVE LETTER

 

 

Some people think of family as an endless book where each day they engage in completing another chapter…in writing another page

 

Some people think of family as an endless song with notes varied and diverse…where each day they add another tune…another melody another verse.

 

Though both of these are appealing I find, for me, it is much better…when I think of my family..to think in terms of a lifelong love letter.

 

A letter started long ago…I know not when or where…written through the centuries with thoughtfulness and care.

 

A letter written by a million hands…young and old and new…a letter any family member can add their thoughts and feelings to.

 

This love letter is special to my family…we are the ones who see…within this letter…the constant rebuilding and rearranging of our family.

 

But here is where it gets interesting…mysterious even madcap…in the way so many of all our family love letters blend together…overlap.

 

For as we write a little every day how often do we find…I end up in your love letter…and you end up in mine.

 

For in this letter not only members born into my family will you see…but friends I’ve met along the way…who have become my family. 

 

If you’re looking for its beauty and its power once the seeds of love are sown…the proof is in our love letters…and how large our families have grown.

 

And if we’re lucky…

when our writing days are done…

another family member will pick up the pen…thus extending…

this love letter….started long ago…

that, hopefully…will never have an ending..

 

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IT LOOKS LIKE LOVE

They noticed from the time when they were young…from before they all could speak…their father’s way of looking at the world was different…some would say…unique.

 

Every morning he’d open the front door…look out over the land and to the sky above…then he’d turn around and say… “Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”

 

Rain and shine, good and bad he believed this is the world as God designed it…

"But she also filled it up with love." He’d say, "And it’s up to us to find it!”

 

Which is why every day he was on the lookout for the love he constantly spoke of…

and every day, wherever he went, he would call attention to that love.

 

He’d point out a smile exchanged by strangers…watching anybody share…his children were amazed…how he’d find love anywhere.

 

He’d show them a mother comforting a crying baby…a family holding hands…and slowly the more love that he’d show them…they more they came to understand.

 

Once they learned this lesson…once they knew what they were looking for…they began to find love in places where they hadn’t noticed it before.

 

It showed up at family dinners, good night kisses in their rooms…it showed up in the rain that helped the flowers bloom.

 

It showed up in people helping other people…in a wave to someone they didn't know.

It showed up anywhere they happened to be…and anywhere they’d go

 

The more they began to see love in their life and in the world around them

the more they began to understand how love envelopes and surrounds them.

 

Thanks to their father’s teachings…and those seeds of love he’d sown..

they learned how love makes every little thing in life…glow…with a beauty all its own

 

Which is why their own children…from before they all could speak…

saw their parent’s way of looking at the world as different…some would say…unique. 

 

When every morning they open their front door…

look out over the land and to the sky above…

then then turn around and say… 

“Today…children…it looks a lot like love.”

 

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DREAM HOUSE REVISITED

 

While looking through an old picture album the other day (Yes! Picture albums still exist) nestled in the seams of one page…we found this old and weathered list.

 

As we opened it and began to read…the two of us were thrilled…that old list contained the items for the dream house we would build.

 

At the top of the list…of course…a bungalow was number one…not too big…but with enough room for our children to play and dream and run.

 

There was no timeline on our dream house list…no specific when…it was just a list of all the things we dreamed about back then.

 

As I sat there holding that old list of dreams within my hand…I realized we never built our dream house…life didn’t go quite the way we planned.

 

After we finished reading the list…that together we’d amassed…I gently folded it back up…then turned to Deborah and asked:

 

“Are you sad we never built our dream house…sad you may have missed…your chance to live in a house with all the items on our list?”

 

She closed her eyes and visited her memory for a while…before she returned the list to the album…squeezed my hand and smiled. 

 

“How can I be sad.” She said. “Though this is not our bungalow…this is the house we’ve raised three children in…and watched four grandchildren grow.”

 

“This house contains all the joys we’ve shared…all the sorrows we’ve overcome…this is the house that’s influenced who our children and grandchildren have become.”

 

“Yes, this list was never completed.” She said. “But it’s not as sad as that may seem…This might not be the dream house from our list…but it is our house of dreams.”

 

And I felt blessed she reminded me of something we both already knew…

that a dream house can be any house…where all your dreams come true.

 
 

 

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VISITING HOURS IN HEAVEN

 

 

The young son came to his father…not long after his Grandpa had died…with tears still lingering in his eyes…eyes that were open wide.

 

“I know that Grandpa’s gone,” he said, “and at the funeral we said goodbye…but is there anyway to visit him in heaven…or do I have to wait until I die?”

 

“There are always visiting hours in heaven.” Dad said. “But to heaven you don’t have to climb…because heaven has made it easy to visit Grandpa…any place…at any time.”

 

“If you close your eyes and think about Grandpa…quickly you will see…you can visit him anytime you want…where he lives…in your memory.”

 

“And if you ever have a question for him…here’s what you need to do…ask your question…close your eyes…listen…Grandpa will answer you.”

 

“You see, heaven is not just the place people go when from this world they depart…I believe each of us has a little piece of heaven…right here…inside our heart.”

 

“It’s the way we were created…the way we were designed…it’s where those we love, before they go, leave a piece of themselves behind.”

 

“And when we want to visit them…this moment…or long after they have died…we only need to close our eyes…think about them…and take a look inside…”

 

“Look inside your heart…right now…that’s what I’m going to do…that’s where you’ll find your Grandpa…waiting patiently for you.”

 

Dad held his son’s hand in his…said, “lose your eyes”…and with their fingers interlaced…

“Hi Dad!”

“Hi Grandpa!”

You could hear them whisper…

as a smile lit up each face.

 
 
 
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WHEN GENERATIONS COME TOGETHER

 

I love when generations of a family come together…

how they ride happily on our shoulders…when our life is full of sunshine, 

full of light and warm…

and how they hoist us onto their shoulders to help us weather any storm.

 

When generations come together…

I love how quickly we discern…

each generation has something to teach…

and each has something to learn.

 

For when generations come together…

when they share their thoughts, their feelings…their hearts…

they take a little of each generation with them when it’s time for them to part.

 

Knowing the changes may be subtle…

changes, at that moment, they might not see…

but changes that help them blend together…generations of one family.

 

So they’ll be ready to ride upon our shoulders in our sunshine….

or hoist us onto theirs in stormy weather….

It’s one of the things I love about family…

when generations come together.

 
 
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