I tend to attach myself with strong, deep ties to people I love. When I miss them, I miss then LOTS. But then… the missing is simply a reminder of how much I love them, and it comes with a great appreciation for the memories shared.
I miss my mom and dad. A lot. Daddy left this world almost 23 years ago. It seems impossible that so much time has passed. Some days, the aching is as acute as the day he passed away. My mom died in January of 2000. So, that’s more than 14 years now. What??! So many years since they left this frail existence. So many things have happened since they departed! My youngest was only a year old when dad died. Now he’s grown and just turned 24.
All the growing up years with the kids. All the fun holidays that seemed a tad melancholy for me, because they weren’t part of them. All the strife of hard times when I really wished I could get their input. The ups and downs, heartaches, and delightful times. We missed having them part of it.
One particularly powerful experience sticks with me, regarding the missing of my mom and dad.
Good Hawaii Memories in my Heart
We lived in Kauai for three years when I was little. I started school there. It was a slice of paradise for my parents, and became the foundation of many amazing memories built over the years. We went back to the Islands as often as possible. For many years, I taught at BYU-Hawaii, so we would make vacation out of it. So much goodness.
Turns out that pineapples and tears go together.
On my first trip back to Oahu after both parents were gone, it was a roller coaster ride in my heart. I stood on the veranda of the Dole Pineapple visitors center, staring out over the miles of pineapple fields. With hundreds of people in and out, and around me, I began to cry. Giant weeping. Floods of tears.
I’m not a pretty cryer. If that’s a word… I get all red and blotchy and unpleasant to look at. And, man, was I crying. Blubbering. Missing them. Thinking of all the trips and memories over the years. Then something wonderful happened.
The thought whooshed through me something like this:
You weep because of the sweet memories you made with your parents. Recognize and appreciate that your tears are associated with beautiful, heartfelt memories. Let gratitude grow for the times you had together. If you didn’t love them. . . if you didn’t appreciate those times, if there was no heart vault of beautiful travels here, you wouldn’t feel this tenderness. Remember – and celebrate- the good times with your mom and dad.
What a wonderful – and real – thought! This was true. I stood on that veranda and breathed in a deep, long breath. With it, I let go of some of the pain and gathered in the blessing of having created so many good memories. It was wonderful. It was healing. It was right. It changed me in a good way.
My family Members I Seldom Get to See
I live out west. My sister and her family are on the East Coast. So are my cousins and beloved uncle. This presents a problem in terms of not getting to see them often. I miss them. Some days, acutely. Facebook and phones and texts are nice. But not like face to face visits, hugs, and laughter together.
No – we’re not this old. And we’ve never been proper like the painting above. But we do like our music. Just ask any one of my family members.
So I dig around in my memory and will often sit and ponder over the years’ worth of great family times. Southern families mean lots of food, loud talking and laughter. In our family, it also means music. Since I was little, gathering around the piano – or with guitars – and having ‘Singings” was part and parcel of South Carolina family time. So many wonderful memories!
When the longing becomes almost overwhelming, I step back away from the goings on here and now. Wandering back in time, I picture visits over the years. And I smile. Grateful for having the family I have. It’s like sunshine beaming into me.
My sister stays busy and does a lot of good in her life. But we seldom get to see each other. Her oldest daughter was like a sibling to my oldest daughter. Thank heaven for modern means of communication!
My oldest.. Now that she lives away from me, I some days have a little freak out because of missing her and the kids. Again, Face timing comes to the rescue, or a phone call with laughter or tears – or both. Photos through the years. Drawings and notes given me from the children. All have become valuable property.
My Friends and the Sweetness They Bring to My Life
Then there are my friends. Some dear buddies have been close friends of mine since we were young teenagers. That makes for… a lot of years of friendship. I miss them! When I think back on our escapades as youth, when I remember the awesome high school years and the activities we had, it amazes me that I was blessed with such good associates who grew up to become wonderful, productive, kind people. So much gratitude!
My big lesson: Appreciate every moment with loved ones. We never know when they may – or we may- check out of this mortal schooling. Place a priority on family and friend time. Find ways to celebrate relationships that matter. And hold on to the blessings that come with those connections.
At this time in my life, it has come around as a huge bonus to reconnect with many old friends. It puts life in perspective to note how quickly the decades have flown past, yet these good folks are still the same – in their hearts. As good as gold. Better. I get to keep the memories and take them with me when I depart. I love my friends. The oldies and the newer ones. Life is so much richer, when we share with other people, isn’t it?!
This has turned into a reflective pondering. It has miles of deep feelings attached, levels of gratitude, with tentacles that reach down into my very core to bring quiet joy. Beautiful memories. Gratitude for the things that matter. Goodness to my heart.
And goodness matters.