Mapping Memory Lane: Family Visits

Last month and this past weekend I packed the kids in the car and drove three hours to visit people I hadn’t seen in far too long. I don’t like calling them old aunts and uncles, their vitality and spirit are too high for that. They’re people who hold keys to my youth. They earned the right to smile softly at me as I prattle on, remembering as they can when I learned to walk and talk.

As we drove home I mulled over the conversations we had. Their perspective on times I barely remember fills in blanks and gives me peace. My dad died when I was 16. We are so incredibly self-absorbed as teenagers. Yes, I lost my dad. But they lost their brother. They now add shape and dimension to my memories of him through stories and photos, treasures and mannerisms. Knowing that they see whispers of his personality in Kid1 touches my heart.

I despise how life gets busy and so much time passes before we see the people who matter the most. Regardless, time with people who remember events and you from before your memory kicked into gear is a gift. I’m committing to make it happen more often. For the priceless insight it gives my kids into who we are and where we come from, and for my own selfish reasons. I received a fair dose of humility this weekend, as old embarrassing stories were trotted out and laughed over. I also received a huge boost to my spirit, as people I idolized in my youth filled me with perspective that I have, indeed turned out alright.

I’m heading into the coming months buoyed by having seen both sets of aunts and uncles. I love them for the support and understanding they continue to show me, almost 40 years after we first met. I love them for flinching but rolling with my tattoos, my occasional slip into inappropriate language, and my picky-eater kids. Onwards, as always… just reminded that the people who matter the most think I’ve got it together.

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