My older brother and I were usually with my dad and stepmom for the 4th of July. There was just something about watching the fireworks from the roof deck of their apartment and then making the mad dash down the seven flights of stairs to beat the rush to Friendly’s for ice cream sundaes.
If we were back at home (with our other parents) for the holiday, we loaded up the car with watermelon and other yumminess after cooking out in the summer heat. We always found a fireworks show and ooh-ed and ahh-ed with everyone else, before sitting in a very long line of cars, all trying to make it home. Still, I love watching fireworks.
After reading my friend Joy’s post this morning, I was reminded of those days of splitting holidays with both families, something that became a part of me–so much that it still feels like something is off if I don’t travel for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
It’s ironic then, that the past two weeks held travels to two homes to see family, which included both sets of parents. One house, I haven’t even seen in almost ten years and wondered how I would feel once there. The other, well, I never lived there, but it is special just the same.
Last night, after some time of catching up, plenty of food and hugs for the road, the car was loaded and the journey home began. There’s something about being alone for a couple of hours. My mind wanders….
There is a framed card on my fireplace mantle that I bought years ago when I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. The picture is of a dilapidated blue truck with a family’s belongings piled on top. Even with the absence of excess packed in boxes marked kitchen or bathroom, there is happiness. How do I know? Well, the people inside–the ones crammed inside the truck are smiling
The caption says: Having a place to go — is a home. Having someone to love — is a family.
I am thankful that during those childhood days of the drives and flights back and forth from one set of parents to another I had a place to go. I had two places to go, even though things were not perfect in lots of ways. With two families, I have lots of people to love.
I am also grateful for the ways they love others.
I am amazed by my older brother’s love and strength and humility when it comes to his adopted daughter. His selflessness shines through by just being there for her and loving her and trying to help her navigate her teenage years. He also has been a source of support for my other brother who, well, just needs more support than anyone of us really know.
Then, there is my sister, who has cared for our mom after surgery. She has a huge heart and will get up in the middle of the night to help someone even is she is sick herself or has to work the next day.
For quite a while, my dad and stepmother were the primary caregivers for my aunt, who could no longer care for herself. I doubt this was part of their retirement dreams way back when, but they stepped in and did it anyway.
No one can prepare for any of the tough stuff that happens. It’s just what life hands us. During difficult situations, we find out what we are made of; don’t we?
When everything about life is unpredictable, I know to the depths of my soul how much I am loved.
After driving for several hours through lightning and driving rain, I made it back to my own home sweet home. I am thankful for my own place to go.