Reflections on family
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
My cousin's husband, Curt, died. He had a rare form of cancer that was particularly aggressive. He was diagnosed 4 months ago, and the doctors thought it was manageable, though not curable. They were wrong. I hoped until his last weekend that the doctors were wrong. I have done a fair amount of crying the last two weeks.
Curt led singing at our wedding. Brenda (my cousin), was my maid of honor.
This is a branch of the family I especially respect. They are so level headed. They seem to have their priorities straight, and they always have. They don't struggle with the obesity problems that plague the rest of the family. I know they have the same appetite the rest of us have, but they have dealt with it.
Brenda and her mom manage their households well. That's another especially weak area for me. They amaze me. Their priorities are straight, and they clearly and consistently focus on them. This is a skill I am only beginning to learn. God, husband, family, home, work. They are connected to the Lord and each other, instead of food, media, and material possessions.
I drove to my sister's house in Illinois last Wednesday, 9 hours from here. I visited my brother for a few hours on Thursday. Then, Friday morning, another cousin, Cheryl, met me and my sister and we drove to Tennessee together. What a reunion. Cheryl is 3 years older than I am, and she was the first in our family to attend college. The only reason Dad let me go to college was that Cheryl was there. She could look after me. And she did. We both became music teachers. We are both retired now. We talked for hours.
We arrived at my cousin's house about 2. Some of our family was already there, some of Curt's family, some of Curt's friends from Colorado, and some people from the church Brenda and Curt attend. On Thursday they had planted a tree by the pond on Brenda and Curt's property. Friday morning they gathered around the tree and sang, prayed, shared stories, and laughed and cried, and they scattered Curt's ashes around the base of the tree.
By the time we got there they were fixing Curt's favorite meal. They had spread paper over some tables in the barn, and they had boiled a huge stock pot of shrimp, smoked sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes, with some Cajun (I think) seasoning. When the food was done, they drained the water and dumped everything out on the table. Tongs and some additional seasoning were available, also some loves of French bread. No silverware. I watched as Brenda expertly ate the boiled potatoes with no fork. I tried to duplicate her. I got them down, but not as neatly as she did.
Saturday morning was the Celebration of Life service at the church building. There was a big dinner after the service. We had planned to attend the service and dinner on Saturday and stay for church on Sunday morning, but that was not to be. The weather apps on my sister and cousin's phones started going off Friday night. A blizzard warning had been issued for Illinois. We cancelled our Saturday night stay at the hotel and headed back to Illinois when the Celebration of Life service was over. A planned short visit was cut even shorter.
I am glad we left early. The blizzard did not develop, but we had a decent ice storm. We were all back home before it started. Living in the heart of the drought area, I had forgotten what heavy rain was like. It was good to hear it coming down on my sister's roof. We had to take shelter in Evansville, IL. The tornado sirens were going off. In January! Go figure.
I didn't get the time with Brenda I would have liked to have had. I'm thinking about going back later this spring for some 1 on 1 time.
So, I worshipped at the little congregation I was raised in with another branch of the family I have a lot of respect for. The church cemetery is where my mom and dad are buried, my Aunt Lois (who was a huge influence on me), both of my grandmothers and Grandpa, and Cheryl's mom (also a positive influence). This is the cemetery my husband and I will be buried in when we die. Yes, I thought about that this weekend.
I came home to a sink full of dirty dishes and no laundry done with my husband wanting to know if I had washed a load of permanent press when he got home late from work. He didn't know what he was going to work today. I had. He didn't go naked. 3 weeks ago I would have complained about the dishes in the sink. All I could think about was that Brenda would probably give anything to wash a sink full of Curt's dirty dishes.