Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Oh good, Dear, you made peanut brittle!"

(l-r: Brandon's brother, Chris the Hunter, Brandon the Blind Ref, me the Pirate, Erica and Doug, Brandon's sister-in-law and brother, Mr. & Mrs. Nacho, and little Ren, at last year's Halloween party)
"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." ~Clara Ortega

I read this quote and thought of last weekend. We had gone to my mother and father-in-law's home, an hour away, for the afternoon. My husband, Brandon, had 2 college-age cousins (one was newly married and had brought his wife, also) visiting there for the weekend. His Grandma lives there, and Brandon's youngest brother was also there with his family, as they live nearby. When we were married, these cousins were only about five years old, and were part of a mass group of forty or so kids who made a lot of noise and activity at the family reunions. I could barely keep up with the names and which of Brandon's uncles or aunts they belonged to. But, the reunions were annual and fun, and although we may have missed one or two, I got the cousins "down". Kind of. For the last 10 years or so, Brandon's parents have been having their own reunions, and extended get-togethers are not so often. But as we visited and reacquainted ourselves with Michelle, Brian, and his new wife, Heather, it only took minutes before the joking, teasing, laughing and strolling down memory lane filled an age and time gap. We shared stories about first dates, kisses, and proposals, and the kids listened and watched, catching new glimpses of their aged parents as they were in younger days. We played "the water game" with the little ones to bring them out of shyness, and taught them, by bad example, how to make it an even "waterier game". Once again the story was told of how Brandon and Doug left little Chris tied up swinging from a rafter upside-down in the barn and never got caught. We made jokes about the bar cookies that had been cooked so long they were compared to peanut brittle and hard-tack, which lead to a conversation about the civil war and armpits that I won't go into. Great Grandma sat and enjoyed the noise and absurdity from her automatic lift chair (after she kicked Brandon out of it and told him that when he got old he could have one). When Great-Grandpa passed away last summer, and the family was gathered after the service for a dinner at the church gym, there was laughter, singing, joking, smiles and arms thrown around. It was loud. Kids, again, were everywhere, and Grandpa wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The tears had been shed, grief expressed, but it was a fun evening. It very easily is when we get together with our brothers and sisters, our families. We can know each others' hearts. And in the grand scheme of things, we do live outside the touch of time.

Monday, February 12, 2007

That's Why Its Called Sunday

I am getting over a stomach flu bug, fortunately on the down slope of things and actually out of bed today. The 2 youngest kids had it, too and by the time the third of us, Jacob, cried out for help in the middle of the night on Friday, my husband was ready to lose his mind and run screaming out into the fresh 10 degree night air and stay there. But, that is not why I am writing today. The kids bounced back much faster than I did and so went to church with the rest of the family while I slept and attempted to fold the huge piles of laundry that are a side effect of this illness. But I was in bed when they got home from church, looking at the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, with the window blinds open and the blue sky and sunshine pouring in on me. Jacob, 8, crept in and climbed into bed beside me and put his head on my shoulder. He asked me if I felt better and kissed me on the cheek. I wearily told him I was very tired, but I had a good rest. He just snuggled and looked at my magazine with me for about 10 minutes, which is saying something because he is not what you would describe as a "restful" child. We should have named him Jacob Fidget Jensen. The words "still" and "slow" are not in his comprehension and neither are "careful" or "calm". He is, however, affectionate and kind. In appreciation for his being so still with me, I leaned over and kissed his forehead. He looked up at me with a grin and I smiled. I admit, I had not genuinely smiled for days, and as I did, his eyes brightened in astonishment, and he said the sweetest words I have heard in a long time. "Mom, when you smiled, the sun shined brighter!"
Now, I know it was probably a little cloud moving out of the way of Mr. Sun, but I allowed the compliment its full meaning and I kissed him again and he just grinned from ear to ear at this bit of magic. And it was a bit of magic, because I did feel better. Much better.