November 15, 2009

Giving Thanks - Days 4 & 5

I was away for most of the weekend at a scrapbooking retreat, so I didn't get to post what I was thankful for on Saturday or Sunday. I started to write this last night, but was too tired to finish. So, since I missed two days, I'm going to cover a big subject -- I am thankful for family!

Yesterday was the naming ceremony for my great-niece, Hannah. It was held at my sister's home where we hold most family events. What a beautiful ceremony and celebration it was! The house was filled with over 50 people, family related to both of Hannah's parents and many, many friends. My quartet was even invited to perform as part of the ceremony and for entertainment afterwards. We sang "I Hope You Dance" (originally recorded by Lee Ann Womack), a perfect song because it speaks about the future and how you should make good choices in life. It was filled with good advice for a young girl as she grows up, even though at 3 months old she was a little young to understand it.

I enjoyed the time spent with my family -- my dear sister and her wonderful husband, my brother and his wife (whom I hadn't seen in five years), my older son, my nieces, and all of my close friends, who are like an extended family to me! My only regret is that my younger son wasn't able to join us because he had no way to get home from where he lives almost 200 miles away. I know he wanted to be here, but just couldn't arrange it.

I've found that as I get older, family becomes even more important. Like I said, I hadn't seen my brother and his wife in five years. Somewhere along the way -- especially during the past 20 years -- he seems to have drawn away from my sister and me. We've never understood why and he's never really been able to explain it. My sister is the oldest of the three of us, so she has made many efforts to reach out to him and close the chasm between us. I think she may have finally gotten through to him this last time. She told him that we are all at that point where more of our lives are behind us than in front of us, and life is too short to continue to hold grudges. He accepted the invitation to Hannah's naming, and I spent a lot of time wondering how this reunion would go. I've been angry with him for a long time, but also hurt and longing for a real relationship. After all, he's my big brother and whether he knows it or not, I always looked up to him when we were growing least, when we weren't fighting, as kids often do.

It took him a while to warm up to us yesterday and I was feeling snubbed once again. But after most of the crowd had gone, I had a long chat with his wife and was very open about my concerns. She said that my brother wanted to reach out, but didn't really know where to begin. After we talked, I think she spoke to him and urged him to just start a conversation and open up. He came over and started telling me about how his son sang in an a capella group in college. We got to talking about my singing and comparing stories about being in chorus in high school, and before long, we were all laughing and joking and hugging each other. It was wonderful!

I hope this was the start of a new beginning and a new relationship, but only time will tell. We've been through moments similar to this in the past, but then things have gone cold between us again. This time, though, it feels a little different. He seemed like his old self again and I felt at ease and comfortable, instead of anxious and afraid of saying the wrong thing. My sister-in-law promised to have us all out to their house when their children and grandson are here for Thanksgiving. That would truly be a great gathering! I haven't seen my niece and nephew in more years than I can remember. And it would be wonderful to have the chance to meet my new great-nephew, who is almost a year old.

Let's hope we have finally put the past behind us. It doesn't matter what caused our paths to separate; it's water under the bridge. Only the future is important, and I hope that our future with my family will be even better than the past ever was!

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