Sunday, June 29, 2014

All Things Family

I immersed myself in all-things-family for the entirety of yesterday and it was the best gift I could have ever given myself.

Our family Book Project is going to be complete one day. My uncle went through my pages with a fine tooth comb and added much needed clarification, perspective and edits. I cannot begin to imagine how many hours he devoted to this, but it was exactly what was needed to help me take this to another level (have you ever had the feeling that you are in over your head and you can't remember exactly how you got there?!).

His edits took me from one end of our book to the other. He helped me see that the completed project is not an insurmountable task. His thoughtful comments along the way were a great reminder of why I started this in the first place and they gently urged me to complete what I have started so that it is out of my hands and into the hands of those who can enjoy it.

My uncle is a master of not saying a word, definitely not pushing (in fact his exact words were "Don't let all this spoil your summer") but still quietly nudging me towards the end goal.

I started this project as a way to honor and remember Dad. I had only waded into it ankle-deep when I thought of Dad's oldest brother and I wanted to give the same 'gift' to his children that I was looking for, myself. I read the memories that another uncle's children wrote about their dad and their words, memories and compliments could speak for almost all of us.

As I have collected bits and bites of historic family information and memories, I have heard so many comments from so many people that I know that this 'book' is for everyone.

What surprises me the most, is that my dad's brothers - all of them quiet, unassuming and very humble men - are eager to tell their story. Above all else, it honors their own parents & brothers and it is a way to remember and reminisce out loud, so their own children and grandchildren can have and hold onto a piece of their life forever more.

Each and every time I find myself fully immersed in this project I know that I am walking on sacred ground. I am enveloped in the arms of family members who no longer walk this earth and I can feel them with me as I assemble all of these memories (in fact, a few paragraphs ago, I felt that same feeling ... then my laptop flickered and a battery operated Elmo toy, tucked inside of the toy cupboard in the living room started to talk with absolutely no movement or outside interference to spur on his conversation).

My uncle is and has been my cheerleader throughout this project. He was the only one that I was brave enough to approach (nearly six years ago now) to see if I should start this 'little' project. He was on board before I asked the question. He is our original family historian and has a real interest in family genealogy so he was quite intrigued with the idea of attaching added interest by way of family memories, stories, quotes and little-known-facts to the family tree.

When I see how painstakingly he proofread, edited, revised and added onto my original draft I do believe that this 'sacred work' is (another) one of his greatest gifts. As he remembers and writes about his family, there is a humble pride within his phrasing. As a child, he was known for being a 'peace keeper' among his siblings but what I am witnessing is a gentle, guiding force, emanating the quiet pleasure that his parents and grandparents would feel 'if they could see him now'.

This particular uncle is the only bachelor within a family of seven boys. Yet he is one uncle that stands out in my mind. He is a gentle overseer of all-things-family. When he speaks of his nieces or nephews, it is like he knows each of us in a personal and up close kind of way. When he speaks of his brothers, it is with an air of quiet pride "... in having a family with so many good characteristics, in their accomplishments and their contributions to society as a whole."

I started this project because of my own dad. I immersed myself (and almost drowned) as I became aware just how much I wanted my cousins to know and feel the same things that I was gaining as I collected our memories. I will finish, with great thanks to My Uncle - the quiet, guiding force behind all that I have managed to assemble.

"Dad? Can you hear my thoughts? Can you believe what you got me into?? Thank you! Assembling this little family history project will go down as one of my all-time greatest memories. It wouldn't have happened without you.."

I have been given the gift of Family. Sitting down and collecting memories with both Mom & Dad's siblings has helped me rediscover my roots, where I come from and where I belong. In sharing these memories with my own siblings and cousins, I hope that they find the same (self) discovery.

If I write it ... they will come. I am back in my Field of Dreams. Again.
My Grandpa, in his own Field of Dreams.
The seeds he planted were part of the destiny that became our family.

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