Saturday, August 1, 2009

Put Down Roots Near Your Family Tree

Tucker gathering eggs from flighty hens.

Tucker, my 12-year-old "city" nephew, left Friday morning, ending a two-week visit. While he was here he embraced country life eagerly and completely, out at the dawn's early light to do chicken chores and guzzling raw milk like he was raised up on it. We had to send him home with an ice chest "care package" of eggs, milk, and homemade bread to ease his transition back to city living.

We all really savored his visit: Herb gave him pep talks on setting goals to complete a difficult book. I snuggled him every morning and smooched his punkin' head. Nathaniel took him to the movies and out for ice cream. Emma played Uno and Dominoes with him.

We didn't talk about it, but we knew that it could very well be the last visit. After all, we've become painfully aware of how precious the time we have with family members is. I believe that is one of the reasons Nathaniel and Emma decided to make a trip to Florida this week to visit their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live there.

They're fighting back.

They lost Uncle John last November and cousin Corey just a few weeks ago. They experienced the extra hurt of feeling that they had not spent enough time with either one of them, though it was not their fault.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I first married, I used to sketch out plans for a family compound with individual homes clustered around a big house with a commercial kitchen and a vast dining room. I dreamt of us all gardening, canning, laughing, shooting skeet, and watching our children run and play together. I even drew in a tower with an observatory for stargazing. Big plans, but that is all they were. We moved far away, following jobs instead.

I don't suppose that we could have changed the outcomes by being there for John and Corey, but I do sincerely believe that being there is still better. At least it's a "1". Living away is worse than zero. It's a negative number.

Nathaniel and Tucker at Corey's funeral.

Making bread with Emma.

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